The Wild Thornberrys

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The Wild Thornberrys
Thornberryslogo.gif
Format Animation
Adventure
Dramedy
Created by Arlene Klasky
Gábor Csupó
Steve Pepoon
David Silverman
Stephen Sustarsic
Directed by Peter Avanzino
Anthony Bell
Becky Bristow
Sylvia Keulen
Cathy Malkasian
Jeff McGrath
Carol Millican
Steve Ressel
Mark Risley
Starring Lacey Chabert
Tom Kane
Flea
Danielle Harris
Jodi Carlisle
Tim Curry
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 92 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 23 minutes
Production company(s) Anivision
Klasky Csupo
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Broadcast
Original channel Nickelodeon
Original run September 1, 1998 – June 11, 2004

The Wild Thornberrys is an American animated television series that aired on Nickelodeon.[1] It was rerun in the United States on Nickelodeon and occasionally Nicktoons until 2007. The show returned to The '90s Are All That for one night, and aired on March 21, 2013. The show aired on Nicktoonsters in the United Kingdom. Following Shout! Factory acquisition of the title in February 2011, all 5 series have been released on DVD.

Premise[edit]

The series focuses around a nomadic family of documentary filmmakers known as the Thornberrys, famous for their televised wildlife studies. It primarily centers on the family's younger daughter Eliza and her secret gift to communicate with animals,[2] bestowed upon her after having rescued a shaman masquerading as a trapped wild animal and thus enabling her to talk to the Thornberrys' adopted pet chimpanzee Darwin. Together, the pair frequently venture through the wilderness, befriending endless species of wild animals along the way or making realizations of vital morals through either their experiences or a particular animal species's lifestyle, or simply assisting the creatures with which they become acquainted in their difficulties.

Production[edit]

The Wild Thornberrys was produced by Klasky Csupo for Nickelodeon. It premiered in September 1998, and was the first Nicktoon to exclusively use 22-minute stories (episodes of other Nicktoons usually featured two 10 - 11-minute stories, using 22-minute stories only on occasion).

Characters[edit]

The Wild Thornberrys, left to right, Nigel (bottom left), Marianne (with camera), Eliza (with glasses), Darwin (the chimpanzee), Donnie (with brown hair), and Debbie (sitting down, bored)

Elizabeth "Eliza" Thornberry[edit]

Eliza is the younger daughter of the Thornberry family. She is intelligent, true-hearted, fearless, and good-natured. Having been given the ability to communicate with wildlife, she often employs this skill when embarking on explorations through the wilderness, traveling around the world with her parents, or encountering different wild creatures. She is forced to keep her gift secret from her family, having been warned that she will lose her powers if she tells anyone about them (although Debbie learns the secret during the events of the movie). Aided by her intelligent pet chimp, Darwin, she often sets out to assist or meet countless differing animals. Eliza is depicted in a stereotypically-nerdy fashion, with red hair plaited in braids, eyeglasses, braces, and freckles. She is a scuba diver. Eliza is voiced by Lacey Chabert.

Darwin Thornberry[edit]

Darwin is a chimpanzee who travels with the family and is a loyal companion to Eliza. He usually wears a tank top with horizontal blue and white stripes (used to be Debbie's lucky tank top) and blue shorts. He speaks with a distinct upper-class British accent. He tries to be the voice of reason to Eliza, however she rarely takes his advice. Cautious by nature, he is almost always hesitant to follow her plans; in response, she accuses him of cowardice, once calling him a "crybaby in a tank-top" for his hesitancy. He was found by Eliza, and was the first animal she ever talked to. In the Wild Thornberrys Movie: The Origin of Donnie, Darwin was seen in a flashback, stealing the sleeveless tank top that was once owned by Debbie. His name is most likely a reference to Charles Darwin, though within the series Eliza gives him the name Darwin after Lenny Darwin, her cousin who looks like a monkey (is never shown in the series). Darwin is voiced by Tom Kane.

Donald "Donnie" Michael Thornberry[edit]

Donnie is a feral boy who (as revealed in the 2001 4-part TV movie, "The Wild Thornberrys: The Origin of Donnie") was raised by orangutans in Borneo. His real parents, Michael and Lisa, were naturalists who loved and protected animals with their hearts. One night, it is revealed, a mother and son orangutan were on the verge of being captured and sold by poachers. Donnie's parents managed to save them but are killed for interfering, much to the horror of the orangutan mother and the local villagers who came to know about their deaths. Out of gratitude and love, the mother orangutan took Donnie and raised him as a son. One day, however, she comes across the Thornberrys and decides to give Donnie to them so he can have a human family. She watches tearfully along with her son as he is welcomed into their family as their own. Before the Thornberrys officially adopt him, it is revealed that Nigel and Marianne knew his parents as they had met them while Donnie's parents were on their honeymoon. He usually wears a pair of leopard-spotted shorts (similar to Tarzan's leopardskin loincloth) and he loves to eat all types of bugs. He babbles wildly and makes animal-sounds (but nothing Eliza can understand), occasionally spouting bits of English or exhibiting intermittent signs of sophistication. Donnie is 4, turning 5 in "The Origin of Donnie", and it is presumed he does not know what happened to his parents. It is revealed that he was able to pick up sign language from watching his parents teaching it to orangutans. We only see him sign one word (family), and it is unclear how much he knows. Nevertheless, this proves Donnie's intelligence - something which the audience sees further evidence of in a drawing he does of his parents alongside the orangutan family that raised him. Donnie is voiced by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Deborah "Debbie" Thornberry[edit]

Debbie is the eldest child of the Thornberrys, depicted as a typical teenage girl. Captivated with fashion and music, Debbie is portrayed as considerably more self-absorbed than her sister Eliza and possesses the tendency to whine and complain, particularly over her family's nomadic way of life and her desire to lead an average life. She really gets on the family's nerves and annoys them a lot. She shows no interest in nature whatsoever and is far more concerned with the stereotypical interests of an adolescent girl, frequently moody or disgruntled in annoyance with the Thornberrys' endless travels around the continents. She also shows disdain towards Eliza, who is mutually infuriated with Debbie's own self-absorption, but nonetheless cares for her sister deep down, most notably in the movie in which she becomes the only family member to know about Eliza's powers but is later warned that she will be turned into a baboon if she ever tells anyone. Debbie is voiced by Danielle Harris.

Sir Nigel Archibald Thornberry[edit]

Nigel is the child of Radcliffe and Cordelia Thornberry (Lynn Redgrave), an aristocratic British couple. Born in Britain himself, he travels around the world with his own family making wildlife documentaries. He may be inspired by Sir David Attenborough and speaks with a nasally RP English accent. He is eccentric, enthusiastic and cheerful, even in the face of danger. He was offered a professorship at Oxford University but, much to his mother's disapproval, Nigel turned it down. He is an expert zoologist, as well as naturalist, traveler and survivalist and is quite caring and logical though Nigel often otherwise appears absent minded or naive. In the series, Nigel is a supporting character, but in the film Rugrats Go Wild, Nigel plays a much larger role as he is idolized by Tommy Pickles (who usually refers to him as "Mr. Strawberry"). Nigel is voiced by Tim Curry.

Marianne Hunter Thornberry, Lady Thornberry[edit]

Marianne is Nigel's wife, daughter of Frank (Ed Asner) and Sophie Hunter (Betty White). She operates the film camera and edits their nature show. Marianne is a strong woman, often the voice of reason, and sometimes loses patience with Nigel. She is usually the one to take on disciplinary duties, trying to keep the girls out of trouble and finish their homework. In Season 1, Episode 12, she mentions that she attended the University of California, Berkeley. Marianne is also a scuba diver like Eliza. She wears a wetsuit, flippers, mask, and scuba tank in Season 3, Episode 17. Marianne is voiced by Jodi Carlisle.

Equipment[edit]

The Commvee (an abbreviation of "communications vehicle") is a two-story mobile home; the main door leads up a flight of stairs to a main floor with the driver and passenger seat in the front, followed by a twin sized bed, table for eating at on the west side of the car, a kitchen on the eastern side, and a bathroom in the back which also serves as a dark-room for editing film. There is a "basement/1st floor" that contains one room with a big bed for Nigel and Marianne, a room with a two small beds (for Debbie and Eliza) and two hammocks for Donnie and Darwin. There is also a small box near the floor of the "main story" that contains various switches which can inflate a raft for crossing rivers and the ocean to a "lock-down" mode in which iron plates cover the windows (as seen in Thornberry Island) for typhoons; there are other switches that can put the car into a submarine mode, or inflate a bag on top of the car for falling objects or rising to the surface of the ocean. Near the 'switch box' there is a hatch (as seen in Rugrats Go Wild) that gives access to a mini-sub. There is also a roof with a satellite that barely ever gets reception, but is used to upload footage to the foundation. On the outside there are many compartments, supposedly for carrying equipment and other smaller vehicles such as the 'mini-comm' for short-range transport or picking up passengers and returning them to camp or the submarine for deep sea expedition (the bath-o-sphere). The Commvee also features the usual conveniences found in a motorhome, including air-conditioning and a stereo system with a cassette tape player.

Episodes[edit]

DVD and Digital Releases[edit]

Nickelodeon released all five seasons on DVD in Region 1 via Amazon.com through its CreateSpace Manufacture-on-demand program in 2010. Season 1 was released on June 24, 2010,[3] Seasons 2 - 5 were released on December 1, 2010[4] All of these releases are now discontinued.

On February 16, 2011, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the rights to the series and would be releasing season 1 on DVD on May 17, 2011.[5] Season 1 was released on May 17, 2011 followed by Season 2, Part 1 on November 8, 2011.[6] Season 2, Part 2 was released on April 24, 2012.[7] Season 2, Part 3 will be released on January 15, 2013, as a Shout Select title.[8] Season 3 was released on June 11, 2013 as a shout select title.[9] Season 4 & 5 were released in a box set on September 10, 2013 as a shout select title.[10]

DVD Name Episodes Release Date
Season 1 20 May 17, 2011
Season 2, Part 1
Season 2, Part 2
Season 2, Part 3♦
13
8
16
November 8, 2011
April 24, 2012
January 15, 2013
Season 3♦ 20 June 11, 2013
Seasons 4 & 5♦ 14 September 10, 2013

♦ - Shout! Factory select title, sold exclusively through Shout's online store.

Films[edit]

Three movies have been released:

  • The Wild Thornberrys: The Origin of Donnie (2001): This prequel was released as a TV film and explores Donnie's life before he was found by the Thornberrys.
  • The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002): This theatrical film made $60 million and earned an Academy Award nomination.[11]
  • Rugrats Go Wild (2003): This theatrical film was the final Rugrats film and a cross-over between Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jensen, Elizabeth (December 17, 2000). "A Family Phenom in the Making Nickelodeon is carefully guiding 'Wild Thornberrys' from popular show to a brand with film potential". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  2. ^ Graeber, Laurel (July 30, 2000). "She Can Talk to the Animals (Don't Tell)". The New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  3. ^ Lambert, David (July 6, 2010). "The Wild Thornberrys – 4-DVD 'Season 1' Set Released by Nickelodeon through Amazon/CreateSpace". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  4. ^ Lambert, David (December 3, 2010). "The Wild Thornberrys – Amazon/CreateSpace Releases 7 DVD Sets with ALL Remaining Seasons". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ Lambert, David (February 16, 2001). "The Wild Thornberrys – General Retail Release of Season 1 from Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory **UPDATE: New Lower Price and a Pre-Order Link**". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  6. ^ The Wild Thornberrys: Season Two, Part One. "The Wild Thornberrys: Season Two, Part One: Lacey Chabert, Tim Curry, Jodi Carlisle, Danielle Harris, Tom Kane, Flea, Cathy Malkasian: Movies & TV". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  7. ^ "The Wild Thornberrys DVD news: Announcement for The Wild Thornberrys - Season 2, Part 2". TVShowsOnDVD.com. 2007-05-25. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  8. ^ "The Wild Thornberrys DVD news: Announcement for The Wild Thornberrys - Season 2, Part 3". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  9. ^ "The Wild Thornberrys: Season 3". Shout!Factory. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  10. ^ "The Wild Thornberrys: The Final Seasons (4 & 5)". Shout!Factory. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  11. ^ "Eminem builds on Oscar buzz". BBC News. February 14, 2003. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  12. ^ Thomas, Kevin (June 13, 2003). "Rugrats go 'Wild' in search of adventure". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 

External links[edit]