Must-watch The Cove airs on Animal Planet, spin-off series follows former Flipper trainer

The Cove is definitely the best documentary I’ve seen in years, although it’s perhaps better classified as a real-life thriller; it’s both entertaining and important. Tonight, after winning an Oscar last spring, it gets its biggest audience yet when it gets its basic cable debut at 9 p.m. ET in Animal Planet’s 98 million homes. (If you’re absorbed in the Emmys instead, DVR is or just watch the DVD; it’s worth the 92 minutes.)

Interestingly, its subject, Ric O’Barry, who once trained the dolphins used on Flipper, told me that he thinks director Louie Psihoyos’ film together with O’Barry’s new Animal Planet series, Blood Dolphins, will have more of an impact than his 40 years of work to stop dolphin killings. Because of the documentary, “People all over the world know about Taiji, and I think because of the filmmaking it’s going to stop. They can’t withstand that kind of pressure,” Ric O’Barry told me, adding that “Blood Dolphins will have a huge impact on the captivity issue. It’s more effective than what I’ve been doing. That’s the new activism, with cameras. I used to do it with a protest sign, [my son] does it with a camera.”

I talked to Ric and his son, Lincoln O’Barry, about their new series, which was previewed following Whale Wars‘ season finale Friday. The Friday preview didn’t make much sense to me because that episode–which does re-air this Friday in the series’ normal timeslot–is essentially a follow-up to The Cove. Also, it’s nowhere near as good as the documentary or Whale Wars, with laughably heavy-handed narration and not the same kind of narrative tension. But as Ric and Lincoln discuss in my Daily Beast story, they think the show will actually change the dolphin slaughter because it’ll stop people from going to dolphin shows. As Lincoln said, “When you actually see the dolphin capture and how it’s tied to the dolphin slaughter, you’d just be shocked to realize what these dolphins go through.”

Here’s The Cove‘s trailer, which should convince you to watch:

And here’s a preview of Blood Dolphins:

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.