The Wild Thornberrys
|The Wild Thornberrys|
|Created by||Arlene Klasky
|Developed by||Mark Palmer
|Directed by||Peter Avanzino
|Voices of||Lacey Chabert
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||91 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Arlene Klasky
|Running time||23 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Klasky Csupo
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
|Original release||September 1, 1998– June 11, 2004|
The Wild Thornberrys is an American animated television series that aired on Nickelodeon from 1998 to 2004. 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's acquisition of the title in February 2011, all 5 seasons have been released on DVD.
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 of being able to communicate with animals, which was bestowed upon her after having rescued a shaman masquerading as a trapped warthog.
The gift enabled her to talk to the Thornberrys' pet chimpanzee Darwin. Together, the pair frequently venture through the wilderness, befriending many species of wild animals along the way or realizing moral truths and lessons through either their experiences or a particular animal species's lifestyle, or simply assisting the creatures, by which they become acquainted, in their difficulties.
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).
The series was designed to have a focus on parents after focus groups run by Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo uncovered that children were talking about the real struggles of the parent-child relationship; this was opposed to Nickelodeon's view of only featuring kids in children's programming. Characters were designed to appeal to various demographics: the sarcastic teen for older girls and the jungle boy for younger boys. Meanwhile, the main character, Eliza, was designed to appeal to the young girl demographic; Nickelodeon vice president Cyma Zarghami said: "She's not strikingly beautiful, but she is adventurous; she's independent; she's smart; she's funny."
- Eliza (voiced by Lacey Chabert) is the 12-year-old younger daughter of the Thornberrys. She has red hair in braids, eyeglasses, braces, and freckles. She has four visible teeth connected by two braces. She is able to communicate with animals, especially her pet chimpanzee Darwin. She must keep this gift secret or she will lose her powers.
- Marianne (voiced by Jodi Carlisle) is Eliza's mother and Nigel's 41-year-old wife, daughter of Frank (Ed Asner) and Sophie Hunter (Betty White). 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, mask, fins, and scuba tank with a regulator in Season 3, Episode 17.
- Nigel (voiced by Tim Curry) is Eliza's father. Sir Nigel Archibald Thornberry KBE is the 41-year-old child of Radcliffe and Cordelia Thornberry (Lynn Redgrave), an aristocratic British couple. Born in Britain and attended Harrow School in London, 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, and is also known for his exaggerated facial features; specifically, his enormous nose, large bushy moustache, sticking-out ears and prominent front teeth. 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 gets amnesia and thinks he's a three-year-old after a coconut hit his head, confusing the children. Later in a bathysphere, Nigel whacks his head, which causes his memory to come back.
- Donnie (voiced by Flea) is a feral boy who is adopted by the Thornberrys. Donald "Donnie" Michael Thornberry is a feral boy who (as revealed in the 2001 four-part TV movie, "The Wild Thornberrys: The Origin of Donnie") was raised by orangutans in Borneo. His real parents were Michael and Lisa, who were killed after saving two orangutans. This was 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 came across the Thornberrys and decided to give Donnie to them so he could have a human family. She watched tearfully along with her son as he was welcomed into their family as their own. It is revealed that the Thornberrys knew his parents before they adopted him, as they had met while Donnie's parents were on their honeymoon. Donnie 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 6, turning 7 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.
- Debbie (voiced by Danielle Harris) is Eliza's 16-year-old older sister. 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 dresses in grunge clothing and sports a distinctive peekaboo hairstyle.
- Darwin (voiced by Tom Kane) is a chimpanzee. 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. Even when he is cautious for good reason since Eliza at times tries to foolishly approach and socialize with potentially dangerous animals (lions for example).
Common Sense Media gave the series a rating of 5 stars, praising it for its ability to encourage young viewers to be empathetic toward animals, want to find out about other cultures and ways of life, and understanding the vastness and diversity of the world. Chicago Sun-Times noted the series was at the forefront of a new trend that saw parents being at the forefront of children's TV shows. Multichannel News thought the series was one of the best for children on TV. Knight Ridder called the series "sympathetic". The Native Voice complimented the series on its commitment to fun, adventure, detail, accuracy, and honesty.
Awards and nominations
|1999||Barbara Wright||Casting Society of America Artios award for Best Casting for Animated Voiceover||Nominated|
|1999||Sabrina Wiener||Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Voice Over in a Feature or TV - Best Young Actress||Nominated|
|2000||Barbara Wright||Casting Society of America Artios award for Best Casting for Animated Voiceover - Television||Nominated|
|2000||The Wild Thornberrys episode "You Otter Know"||Environmental Media Award for Children's Animated||Won|
|2000||The Wild Thornberrys episode "Hunting by Numbers"||Genesis Award for Television - Children's Programming - Animated||Won|
|2000||Lacey Chabert||YoungStar Award for Best Young Voice Over Talent||Nominated|
|2001||Joseph Scott, Dean Criswell, and Ron Noble for TV movie "The Origin Of Donnie".||Burbank International Children's Film Festival award for Best Tele-Feature Animation||Won|
|2001||The Wild Thornberrys||Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Animated Program||Nominated|
|2001||The Wild Thornberrys episode "Happy Campers"||Environmental Media Award for Children's Animated category||Nominated|
|2001||The Wild Thornberrys for multiple episodes||Genesis Award for Television - Children's Programming - Animated||Won|
|2001||The Wild Thornberrys episode "Forget Me Not"||Genesis Award for Television - Children's Programming - Animated||Won|
|2002||The Wild Thornberrys episode "The Trouble With Darwin"||Environmental Media Award for Children's Animated category||Won|
|2003||Barbara Wright||Casting Society of America Artios award for Best Casting for Animated Voice Over, Television||Nominated|
|2004||The Wild Thornberrys||NAMIC Vision Award in Children's category||Nominated|
By November 1998, the show had been averaging a 6.2 rating, second only to Rugrats. In December 1998, the show was the "most-watched new cartoon on television". In December 2000, the series was Nickelodeon's #2 show after Rugrats.
DVD and digital releases
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, Seasons 2 through 5 were released on December 1, 2010 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. Season 1 was released on May 17, 2011 followed by Season 2, Part 1 on November 8, 2011. Season 2, Part 2 was released on April 24, 2012. Season 2, Part 3 was released on January 15, 2013, as a Shout Select title. Season 3 was released on June 11, 2013 as a Shout Select title. Seasons 4 and 5 were released in a box set on September 10, 2013 as a Shout Select title.
In Australia, all 5 seasons have been released via Beyond Home Entertainment. A 13-disc set titled The Wild Thornberrys: The Essential Episodes was released on June 3, 2015.
|DVD Name||Episodes||Release Date|
|Season 1||20||May 17, 2011||April 3, 2013|
|Season 2, Part 1
Season 2, Part 2
Season 2, Part 3♦
|November 8, 2011
April 24, 2012
January 15, 2013
|April 3, 2013 (complete)|
|Season 3♦||20||June 11, 2013||December 4, 2013|
|Seasons 4 & 5♦||14||September 10, 2013||April 2, 2014|
|The Essential Episodes||75||N/A||June 3, 2015|
|The Complete Series||91||December 1, 2015||N/A|
♦ – Shout! Factory select title, sold exclusively through Shout's online store. (refers to region 1 releases)
The franchise was extended through four movies (two television films and two theatrical films), which were released toward the end of the series' run:
- The Origin of Donnie (2001): This prequel was released as a television film, and explores Donnie's life before he was found by the Thornberrys.
- The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002): This theatrical earned an Academy Award nomination.
- Rugrats Go Wild (2003): This theatrical film was the final Rugrats film, and a crossover between Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys.
- "Sir Nigel" (2003): Nigel gets knighted.
Box office performance
|Film||Release date||Box office gross||Box office ranking||Budget||Ref(s)|
|North America||Other territories||Worldwide||All time
North America opening weekend
|The Origin of Donnie||August 18, 2001||TV movie||TV movie||TV movie|
|The Wild Thornbery Movie||December 20, 2002||$40,108,697||$20,586,040||$60,694,737||2,685||1,913||$25,000,000|||
|Rugrats Go Wild||June 13, 2003||$39,402,572||$16,002,494||$55,405,066||1,601||1,944||$25,000,000|||
|Sir Nigel||March 30, 2003||TV movie||TV movie||TV movie|
Critical and public response
|The Origin of Donnie (TV movie)|
|The Wild Thornberrys Movie||80% (88 reviews)||60 (25 reviews)|
|Rugrats Go Wild||40% (84 reviews)||38 (27 reviews)|
|Sir Nigel (TV movie)|
- The Wild Thornberrys: Rambler
- The Wild Thornberrys: Animal Adventures
- The Wild Thornberry's Movie
- Rugrats Go Wild!
- Graeber, Laurel (July 30, 2000). "She Can Talk to the Animals (Don't Tell)". The New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
- "Parents apparent // Cartoons return mom, dad to mix". 1999-01-01.
- "THE CHILDREN'S HOUR 'NICKEL-O-ZONE' INVADES PRIME TIME WITH AN EXPANDED LINEUP OF PRE-TEEN-FRIENDLY SHOWS". 1998-08-30.
- Neverbot. "Big Shiny Robot - Saturday Morning Cartoon! 'The Wild Thornberrys'". www.bigshinyrobot.com. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
- "The Wild Thornberrys - TV Review". Retrieved 2017-02-15.
- "'Raunch' study draws fire from Nick, others.(Parents Television Council ranks cable shows for violence, sex and profanity)(Brief Article)". 2002-02-04.
- "At 10 years old, the Rugrats are `All Growed Up'.(Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service)". 2001-07-09.
- "THE WILD THORNBERRYS". 2003-01-09.
- "SMALL SCREEN; THE BUZZ ON TELEVISION". highbeam.com. November 7, 2002. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
- "Cable Gains Across the Board in Oct.". 1998-11-02.
- "KIDS' SHOWS TAP INTO LONGING FOR ADULT COMPANY". 1998-12-27.
- "MATTEL LAUNCHES WILD THORNBERRYS GAME FOR PLAYSTATION.". 2000-12-01.
- 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.
- Lambert, David (December 3, 2010). "The Wild Thornberrys – Amazon/CreateSpace Releases 7 DVD Sets with ALL Remaining Seasons". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
- 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.
- 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 November 8, 2012.
- "The Wild Thornberrys DVD news: Announcement for The Wild Thornberrys – Season 2, Part 2". TVShowsOnDVD.com. May 25, 2007. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
- "The Wild Thornberrys DVD news: Announcement for The Wild Thornberrys – Season 2, Part 3". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
- "The Wild Thornberrys: Season 3". Shout!Factory. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
- "The Wild Thornberrys: The Final Seasons (4 & 5)". Shout!Factory. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
- Lambert, David (September 15, 2015). "The Wild Thornberrys – A 'Wide' 15-DVD Release in the USA for 'The Complete Series'". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
- "Eminem builds on Oscar buzz". BBC News. February 14, 2003. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
- Thomas, Kevin (June 13, 2003). "Rugrats go 'Wild' in search of adventure". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
- "The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
- "Rugrats Go Wild (2003) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
- "The Wild Thornberrys Movie(2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-09-24.
- "The Wild Thornberrys Movie". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- "Rugrats Go Wild (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- "Rugrats Go Wild". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- "SMALL SCREEN THE BUZZ ON TELEVISION". 2003-02-01.