I can't believe I have never seen, much less heard of "The Incredible Dr. Pol" -- a terrific animal-centric reality series which also happens to be the #1 series on Nat Geo Wild.
And after screening the first episode of Saturday night's Season 2 premiere, it's clear I've been missing something pretty great (alas, no Season 1 marathon on the Nat Geo Wild schedule).
"The Incredible Dr. Pol" follows the country vet practice of 70-year-old Dr. Jan Pol, an immigrant from the Netherlands who has practiced veterinary medicine in central Michigan for more than 30 years, dutifully visiting nearby farms to tend to sick horses, cows, pigs, rabbits, sheep and almost everything else.
It's a decidedly old-school vet practice, as you'll see when Dr. Pol and his son Charles deliver a breach-birth calf with a set of chains and some kind of crank. That scene is hard to watch. Not because of the gore of a calf delivery, but because it was fraught with nearly as much beat-the-clock tension as a "Breaking Bad" train robbery.
In that first episode, called "Polnado" because a tornado scare sends the entire Pol clinic into the storm cellar in the middle of filming, Dr. Pol not only delivers that calf but takes care of a horse who can't eat, a pheasant with a broken leg, a pit bull who ate a spiral notebook, and a colt who needs an "alteration" to calm him down a bit. And it's beyond charming when he says, "That was fun!" after finishing a tricky procedure.
Dr. Brenda Grettenberger, Dr. Pol's longtime colleague, looks after of many of the smaller animals who come into their office, ranging in the first episode from a 170-pound Great Dane to a tiny little barn cat.
Dr. Pol is a true character -- gruff, funny, kind and capable -- and his show is absolutely fascinating. And incredible.
"The Incredible Dr. Pol" airs at 10 p.m. on Nat Geo WILD.
Nat Geo Wild can be found on channels 254 and 1254 on Time Warner Cable; 283 and 1283 on DirecTV; 190 on Dish; and 266 on AT&T U-verse.