"Family That Walks on All Fours"
We (my lovely and talented wife and I) have been watching a lot of Masterpiece Theater lately. Actually, by "we" I mostly mean that she has been watching a lot of Masterpiece Theater and I have been sitting near her and occasionally sighing heavily in the hopes that (a) she will either yield the TiVo remote or that (b) she will become so irritated with me that she will end my life. Either one works for me. I like Masterpiece theater, but there's only so much historical English drama, Victorian or otherwise, that a man can take. It turns out she opted for ©, commonly referred to as "shut it," and I now have in my memory far, far too much information about a certain Edmond Talbot and a Lady Dedlock.
I have managed to salvage some satisfaction, though, in the form of a sense of smug superiority over lesser, non-PBS watching mortals. For example, friends will ask, "Hey, did you see what happened to the fat guy on the island Sunday night?" And I'll sniff haughtily and reply, in my best, worst British accent, "That? No, of course not, Sir." I barely repress a sneer. "I was watching Masterpiece Theater." And they skulk away, defeated. Edmond would be proud.
I'm more of a NOVA kind of guy.
When I first heard of the NOVA program Family That Walks on All Fours, I thought it was a romantic title for a documentary about apes. I like the apes. In fact, it's about a family, a human family, with children who walk on all fours. Literally.
At first we called shenanigans. "I call shenanigans," we said simultaneously. I immediately thought of the Monty Python "Silly Walks" sketch. I meean, what could possibly be preventing these people from straightening their backs? At the risk of spoiling it for you, it isn't shenanigans. The children are the apparent victims of a genetic defect that resulted in a shrunken cerebellum (affecting balance) and an environment and culture that prevented them from receiving any treatment when their condition began to manifest itself in their first year. Until the scientific community descended on them in the search for a genetic, evolutionary link to our ancient ancestors, no one even thought to give them a walker.
You really get to feel for these kids, the family, and the plight they are in. Happy ending though. Hopeful, anyway. And there's a lot more to it. It really is a fascinating story and an interesting glimpse into how difficult and time consuming it is to figure out what our genes really do. Oh, and there's a two-legged dog that walks upright. Check it out. That is, if you can tear yourself away from Masterpiece Theater.