With the exception of Morgan Freeman, how many times have you praised or heard praise for a narrator? I, myself, can definitely remember a greater number of times that I’ve criticized a narrator, usually for annoying mispronunciations or other such things that you would expect to have been perfected by someone who speaks professionally.
I recently watched a documentary, the narrator of which got on my nerves to the point where I felt like turning off the program; I only stuck it out out of sheer curiosity for the subject matter. In this case, the documentary had a clearly persuasive angle to it, but the problem was that the narrator (who was also the creator of the film) consistently used a tone that was very aggressive, arrogant, condescending, and smug, making it seem as though he was pointing at any who would take up a contrary position and calling them stupid.
Now, I am not a filmmaker, but it was my understanding that a documentary narrator is meant to be an impartial presenter of information, like a news anchor; not to use the word “I” and not to make it appear as though they agree or disagree with the things being said. Once that standard is broken, the whole thing turns into a one-sided debate which, like a one-sided sports match, just isn’t entertaining to watch.
Quality narration is often taken for granted. A narrator can be like a pair of eyes. They help us to know what’s going on, but most people pay them little attention until they cease to perform properly.