Just-hatched goslings must leave their nest precariously perched on an aerie. Water and food are a mile away and winged predators circle. Too young to fly, the only option is to jump. A tiny ball of fuzz crashes into rocks on its 400-foot drop, and it’s gut wrenching to see. Three chicks make this miserable descent during a haunting eight-minute scene in Mountains, the opening installment of National Geographic’s docuseries Hostile Planet. Be warned: Two of the three hatchlings meet tragic ends, as do many animals in this six-part series premiering Monday, April 1.
Every family has one member who looms just a tad larger -- the uncle who fought the fascists, the grandmother who marched with Dr. King. Their stories become the fabric from which family legends are woven. In actor Joseph Fiennes’ family, his cousin Ran Fiennes’ stories took on mythical proportions, as well they should. Ran (pictured above and below, opposite Fiennes) is a genuine explorer: He circumnavigated the globe and discovered a lost city in Oman. Joseph, seen most recently in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, wanted an adventure with Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, in part to see if any of that derring-do was in his DNA. The result is a charming three-part travelogue and delightful buddy film – if tunneling through ancient catacombs with a knight can be called such.
It was the sort of coup that burnishes reputations. Earlier this season Lori McCreary managed to get former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright together in an episode of Madam Secretary, the CBS drama for which she serves as an executive producer. McCreary spent a couple of years choreographing that intricate dance.