The Wild Thornberrys

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The Wild Thornberrys
Thornberryslogo.gif
Genre
Created by
Developed by
  • Mark Palmer
  • Jeff Astrof
  • Mike Sikowitz
Directed by
Voices of
ComposerDrew Neumann
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes91 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
  • Arlene Klasky
  • Gábor Csupó
Producers
  • Christine Ferriter
  • Maureen Iser
  • Krist-Ann Pehrson
  • Sheila M. Anthony
Running time23 minutes
Production companies
DistributorMTV Networks
Release
Original networkNickelodeon
Picture formatNTSC
Original releaseSeptember 1, 1998 (1998-09-01) –
June 11, 2004 (2004-06-11)

The Wild Thornberrys is an American animated television series created by Arlene Klasky, Gábor Csupó, Steve Pepoon, David Silverman, and Stephen Sustarsic for Nickelodeon. The series portrays an American family of wildlife documentary filmmakers known as the Thornberrys, which consist of the British nature documentary television host Nigel, his wife and camera operator Marianne, their 16-year-old daughter Debbie, their younger daughter Eliza, their adopted son Donnie, and a chimpanzee named Darwin. The series focuses in particular on Eliza, who has an ability to communicate with animals.[1] The Thornberry family travels to every continent and wildlife environment in the ComVee, a recreational vehicle equipped with safety mechanisms to handle any terrain or body of water, to document their journeys in detail, with typical episodes involving Eliza befriending an animal and subsequently finding herself in peril.

Originally pitched by Klasky Csupo as an adult animated sitcom for Fox,[2] the series was then retooled as a family-friendly animated series for Nickelodeon and premiered on September 1, 1998, as the eleventh Nicktoon and the third overall produced by the studio following Rugrats and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.[3] It ran for 5 seasons containing 91 episodes in total, with the series finale airing on June 11, 2004.

The series' fourth season premiere, "The Origin of Donnie", is a television special focusing on Donnie Thornberry's life before he was adopted by the family. A feature film, The Wild Thornberrys Movie, in which Eliza embarks on a quest to save a cheetah cub from poachers, was theatrically released on December 20, 2002. Rugrats Go Wild, a crossover feature film with Nickelodeon's Rugrats, was released in theaters on June 13, 2003. Spin-off media include DVD releases and three video games.

Plot[edit]

"This is me Eliza Thornberry, part of your average family. I got a dad, a mom and a sister. There is Donnie; we found him and Darwin, he found us. Oh yeah, about our house. It moves, 'cause we travel all over the world. You see, my dad hosts this nature show, and my mom shoots it. Okay, so we're not that average. And between you and me, something amazing happened... and now I can talk to animals. It's really cool, but totally secret. And you know what? Life's never been the same."

- Eliza Thornberry's opening narration.

The series focuses around a nomadic family of documentary filmmakers known as the Thornberrys, famous for their televised wildlife studies, as they travel the world in the "Comvee", a large, amphibious, multifunctional overland motorhome which doubles as their base of operations. It primarily centers on the family's younger daughter Eliza, and her secret gift of being able to communicate with animals,[1] which was bestowed upon her after having rescued a shaman masquerading as a trapped warthog.

The gift enables 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, and discern moral truths and lessons through either their experiences or a particular animal species's lifestyle; often this means simply assisting the creatures by which they become acquainted in their difficulties.

Episodes[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
PilotSeptember 1, 1998 (1998-09-01)
120September 1, 1998 (1998-09-01)April 1, 1999 (1999-04-01)
237August 16, 1999 (1999-08-16)March 27, 2000 (2000-03-27)
320September 12, 2000 (2000-09-12)May 14, 2001 (2001-05-14)
46August 18, 2001 (2001-08-18)June 1, 2002 (2002-06-01)
58February 3, 2003 (2003-02-03)June 11, 2004 (2004-06-11)
FilmsDecember 20, 2002 (2002-12-20)June 13, 2003 (2003-06-13)

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)

Main[edit]

  • Elizabeth "Eliza" Thornberry (voiced by Lacey Chabert) is a 12-year-old girl[1] and the youngest daughter of the Thornberrys. She has long red-orange hair usually worn in pigtails, and occasionally a ponytail, round eyeglasses, four big teeth connected by two braces, and freckles. She is able to communicate with animals, especially her chimpanzee sidekick Darwin. She must keep this gift secret or she will lose her powers (as revealed in the episode "Gift of Gab"). This happens during the film when Eliza reluctantly tells two poachers her secret in order to save Debbie. Luckily, after saving a herd of elephants from the same poachers later in the film, she is given her powers back. Despite her good intentions, she sometimes interferes with nature which causes more problems.[4]
  • Sir Nigel Archibald Thornberry KBE (voiced by Tim Curry) is Eliza, Debbie, and Donnie's father and Marianne's husband. He is also the son of Radcliffe (also voiced by Curry) and Cordelia Thornberry (Lynn Redgrave), an aristocratic British couple. Born in the U.K. and having attended Harrow School near London, he travels around the world with his own family making wildlife documentaries. He is eccentric, enthusiastic, and cheerful even in the face of danger, and is also known for his exaggerated facial features and love of kippers which he offers frequently.
  • Marianne Thornberry née Hunter (voiced by Jodi Carlisle) is Eliza, Debbie, and Donnie's mother and Nigel's wife. She is the daughter of Frank (Mel Brooks) and Sophie Hunter (Betty White). She mentions that she attended the University of California, Berkeley and once competed in a rodeo as revealed in "Rebel Without a Trunk".
  • Donald "Donnie" Thornberry (voiced by Flea) is a feral boy adopted by the Thornberrys, who (as revealed in the 4-part TV film, "The Wild Thornberrys: The Origin of Donnie") was raised by an orangutan in Borneo after his parents, Michael and Lisa, who were old friends of the Thornberrys, were killed by poachers.[4] Donnie's age is 4, turning 5 in "The Origin of Donnie".[1]
  • Deborah "Debbie" Thornberry (voiced by Danielle Harris) is Eliza's older 16-year-old sister. After the events of the movie, she becomes the only family member to know about Eliza's power but is warned that she will be turned into a baboon if she ever tells anyone. Debbie dresses in 1990s clothing and has a long swept hairstyle. Unlike Eliza, Debbie doesn't like traveling and wants nothing more than to live in civilization and make friends with people her own age.
  • Darwin (voiced by Tom Kane) is the Thornberrys' pet chimpanzee and Eliza's best friend. 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. Although he isn't too fond of Debbie, the two do share the same preference to living in civilization over the wilderness. He also acts as the voice of reason for Eliza whenever she tried to interfere in nature.

Recurring[edit]

  • Neil Biederman (voiced by Michael Jeter & replaced by Jerry Sroka) is a poacher and The Thornberrys’ sworn enemy who poaches and kidnaps animals from above it, with his partner Kip O'Donnell (voiced by Keith Szarabajka). Whenever they aren't poaching animals, they are conducting schemes to make easy money. They would eventually be apprehended by the authorities after causing an oil spill while attempting to steal oil from an oil tanker in the episode "You Otter Know."
  • Tyler Tucker (voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas) is Eliza and Debbie's cousin. He is Marianne and Nigel's nephew through Marianne's sister Nancy Tucker née Hunter. He is a year older than Eliza but acts more immaturely than Eliza does. He does not really understand the dangers of living in the wild. He is a know-it-all but generally has a good head on his shoulders, and he cares about his cousins Debbie, Eliza, and Donnie. His parents are Dennis (voiced by Martin Mull) and Nancy Tucker (voiced by Mary Kay Place).
  • Shane G. (voiced by Christopher Masterson) is a pop superstar who travels with the Thornberry Family for five episodes while they are filming in Alaska. The Foundation orders Nigel and Marianne to take him with the family to promote Wildlife preservation among young people and Shane's fans. Both Eliza and Debbie gain a crush on the him, however Debbie loses interest when Shane shows to have more similarities with Eliza than herself.
  • Santusa (voiced by Tia Texada) is a supremely annoying llama whom Eliza befriended in the Andes.
  • Bim (voiced by Greg Ellis) is a Koala who has a British accent and befriended by Eliza, Darwin, & Donnie.
  • Shango (voiced by Bradley Pierce) is an African Elephant who Eliza first met.
  • Phaedra (voiced by Jane Wiedlin) is a female African Elephant who appears in the episode, "Forget Me Not", and who Eliza and Darwin were riding at the beginning of The Wild Thornberrys Movie.
  • Zita (voiced by Andrea Thompson) is an African Elephant who was Rebecca's daughter and the mother of Shango, from the episode, Forget Me Not.
  • Mali (voiced by Christina Pickles) is an African Elephant who was Zita's aunt and Phadera's daughter, when Eliza helps her.
  • Juka (voiced by Marquise Wilson) is the leader of the Maasai legend between his wise Grandfather Makai (voiced by Courtney B. Vance & replaced by Steve Harris)
  • Ben (voiced by David Gallagher) is a friend of Eliza's that Debbie teases her for having a crush on.
  • Franz Fensterkopt (voiced by Bronson Pinchot)
  • Dr. Jomo (voiced by Brock Peters) is a police officer who is a friend of Nigel Thornberry.
  • Sri Mayasandra (voiced by Alan Henry Brown) is a scientist who had found Donnie in the TV special.
  • Baru (voiced by Cara DeLizia) is a young Proboscis monkey who helps Eliza get back to her family, and his father, Baduk (voiced by Dwight Schultz).
  • Lugan (voiced by Maureen Quinn), who was in the TV special.
  • Saiful (voiced by Pamela Adlon), which was in the TV special. and Adlon voiced Tano, a Cheetah Cub who Eliza tries to help find and who she, Darwin and Donnie help try to find his mother in the episode, "Cheetahs Never Prosper".
  • Shi Shou (voiced by Dionne Quan) is a baby panda, and Mei-Mei (voiced by Bai Ling), a mother panda.
  • Conal (voiced by Michael Gough) is a golden eagle, and his wife Brianag (voiced by Laraine Newman).

Guest stars[edit]

Production[edit]

The Wild Thornberrys was produced by Klasky Csupo. It was initially pitched as an adult animated sitcom under the name, Nigel Thornberry's Animal World, and was to be co-produced by Fox Animation for Fox, but it was ultimately rejected.[2] It was then picked up by Nickelodeon under its own animation studio and was retooled as a family-oriented series with Nigel's youngest daughter Eliza (originally named Alex) being promoted to the main protagonist role. According to Eryk Casemiro, SVP of Creative Affairs at Klasky-Csupo Productions at the time of the series production, she was originally designed to look "quite frankly, very ugly" in order to contradict the stereotype that all young heroines are beautiful. However, her design was later retooled to look "cuter" at the request of Nickelodeon.[5] It premiered on September 1, 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 Klasky and 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.[6] It was also designed with the potential of being used in science curriculums. To accomplish this, the production crew hired a specialist who did research on different regions of the world, different cultures, and different species of animals, all of which were provided to the writers to help them develop ideas for episodes.[5]

Broadcast[edit]

The show aired in reruns on "Nick on CBS" for two years from September 14, 2002, to March 6, 2004. The show aired on Nicktoonsters in the United Kingdom.

Home media[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,[7] and Seasons 2 through 5 were released on December 1, 2010.[8]

CreateSpace Releases Release Date Discs Episodes
Season 1 June 24, 2010 4 20
Season 2, Volume 1 December 1, 2010 5 13
Season 2, Volume 2 December 1, 2010 5 24
Season 3, Volume 1 December 1, 2010 3 N/A
Season 3, Volume 2 December 1, 2010 3 N/A
Season 3, Volume 3 December 1, 2010 3 N/A
Season 4 December 1, 2010 2 6
Season 5 December 1, 2010 2 8

On February 16, 2011, Shout! Factory announced that it had acquired the rights to release the series on home media and would be releasing Season 1 on DVD on May 17, 2011.[9] Season 1 was released on May 17, 2011, followed by Season 2, Part 1 on November 8, 2011.[10] Season 2, Part 2 was released on April 24, 2012.[11] Season 2, Part 3 was released on January 15, 2013, as a Shout Select title.[12] Season 3 was released on June 11, 2013, as a Shout Select title.[13] Season 4 and Season 5 were released in a box set on September 10, 2013, as a Shout Select title.[14]

On December 1, 2015, Shout! Factory released The Wild Thornberrys: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1.[15]

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
Region 1 Region 4
Season 1 20 May 17, 2011 April 3, 2013
Season 2, Part 1
Season 2, Part 2
Season 2, Part 3♦
13
8
16
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)

Films[edit]

The franchise was extended through three movies (one television film and two theatrical films), which were released toward the end of the series' run:

Video games[edit]

A video game based on the television series titled The Wild Thornberrys: Animal Adventures was released only for PlayStation on November 8, 2000.[18] During this time, another game was released, The Wild Thornberrys: Rambler on PC and Game Boy Color on August 7, 2000, and November 2000 respectively. The Wild Thornberrys Chimp Chase was released only for the Game Boy Advance on October 1, 2001.[19] Characters from the series also appear in the Nickelodeon crossover games Nicktoons Racing, Nickelodeon Party Blast, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl (where Nigel is voicced by Jim Meskimen),[20] and Nickelodeon Extreme Tennis.

Reception[edit]

Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office gross Box office ranking Budget Ref.
North America Other territories Worldwide All time
North America opening weekend
All time
North America
The Wild Thornberrys Movie December 20, 2002 $40,108,697 $20,586,040 $60,694,737 2,867 2,049 $25,000,000 [21]
Rugrats Go Wild June 13, 2003 $39,402,572 $16,002,494 $55,405,066 1,774 2,081 $25,000,000 [22]
Total $79,511,269 $36,588,534 $116,099,803 $50,000,000
List indicator(s)
  • A dark grey cell indicates the information is not available for the film.

Critical response[edit]

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, to want to find out about other cultures and ways of life, and to understand the vastness and diversity of the world.[23] Knight Ridder called the series "sympathetic".[24] The Native Voice complimented the series on its commitment to fun, adventure, detail, accuracy, and honesty.[25]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
The Wild Thornberrys Movie 80% (88 reviews)[26] 69 (25 reviews)[27] A[28]
Rugrats Go Wild 40% (84 reviews)[29] 38 (27 reviews)[30] A−[28]

Accolades[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
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[31] 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

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Graeber, Laurel (July 30, 2000). "She Can Talk to the Animals (Don't Tell)". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Nigel Thornberry's Animal World ( Wild Thornberrys Pilot)". December 12, 1994.
  3. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 905–906. ISBN 978-1476665993.
  4. ^ a b Neverbot. "Big Shiny Robot - Saturday Morning Cartoon! 'The Wild Thornberrys'". www.bigshinyrobot.com. Archived from the original on October 9, 2017. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  5. ^ a b @NickAnimation (March 19, 2018). ""We wanted to have a little girl that was not the most perfect princess, we wanted to push her braces, her freckles, her glasses, and we thought that was lovely." -Arlene Klasky on Eliza from The Wild Thornberrys #WomensHistoryMonth with art uncovered from #NickArchives!" (Tweet). Retrieved October 27, 2022 – via Twitter.
  6. ^ "Parents apparent/Cartoons return mom, dad to mix". January 1, 1999. Archived from the original on February 15, 2017. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ Lambert, David (July 6, 2010). "The Wild Thornberrys – 4-DVD 'Season 1' Set Released by Nickelodeon through Amazon/CreateSpace". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  8. ^ Lambert, David (December 3, 2010). "The Wild Thornberrys – Amazon/CreateSpace Releases 7 DVD Sets with All Remaining Seasons". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  9. ^ 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. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  10. ^ The Wild Thornberrys: Season Two, Part One (November 8, 2011). "The Wild Thornberrys: Season Two, Part One: Lacey Chabert, Tim Curry, Jodi Carlisle, Danielle Harris, Tom Kane, Flea, Cathy Malkasian: Movies & TV". Amazon. Archived from the original on June 27, 2022. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  11. ^ "The Wild Thornberrys DVD news: Announcement for The Wild Thornberrys – Season 2, Part 2". TVShowsOnDVD.com. May 25, 2007. Archived from the original on July 31, 2013. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  12. ^ "The Wild Thornberrys DVD news: Announcement for The Wild Thornberrys – Season 2, Part 3". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  13. ^ "The Wild Thornberrys: Season 3". Shout!Factory. Archived from the original on May 10, 2013. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  14. ^ "The Wild Thornberrys: The Final Seasons (4 & 5)". Shout!Factory. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  15. ^ Lambert, David (September 15, 2015). "The Wild Thornberrys – A 'Wide' 15-DVD Release in the USA for 'The Complete Series'". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on September 17, 2015. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  16. ^ "Eminem builds on Oscar buzz". BBC News. February 14, 2003. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  17. ^ Thomas, Kevin (June 13, 2003). "Rugrats go 'Wild' in search of adventure". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  18. ^ "Wild Thornberry's Animal Adventure". playstation.com. Archived from the original on July 11, 2019. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  19. ^ "THQ Ships The Wild Thornberrys: Chimp Chase for Game Boy Advance". Business Wire. Berkshire Hathaway. October 1, 2001. Archived from the original on December 16, 2001. Retrieved June 14, 2019 – via Yahoo.com.
  20. ^ "Every Character Confirmed For Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl". ScreenRant. July 13, 2021. Archived from the original on October 5, 2021. Retrieved September 17, 2021.
  21. ^ "The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on June 21, 2018. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  22. ^ "Rugrats Go Wild (2003) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on May 21, 2018. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  23. ^ "The Wild Thornberrys - TV Review". Archived from the original on February 15, 2017. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  24. ^ "At 10 Years Old, the Rugrats Are 'All Growed Up'.(Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service)". July 9, 2001. Archived from the original on February 15, 2017. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  25. ^ "The Wild Thornberrys". January 9, 2003. Archived from the original on February 15, 2017. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  26. ^ "The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on April 28, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2011.
  27. ^ "The Wild Thornberrys Movie". Metacritic. Archived from the original on April 24, 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  28. ^ a b https://www.cinemascore.com/publicsearch/index/title/
  29. ^ "Rugrats Go Wild (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on April 15, 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  30. ^ "Rugrats Go Wild". Metacritic. Archived from the original on April 11, 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  31. ^ "Small Screen; The Buzz on Television". highbeam.com. November 7, 2002. Archived from the original on February 15, 2017. Retrieved July 3, 2017.

External links[edit]