The Wild Thornberrys
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, although the appreciation for animals the series promotes is admirable, they may need to remind young fans that animals encountered in the wild should be approached with caution. Also, Eliza's sister Debbie is often snotty and superficial to the point of giving teenagers a bad name.
What's the story?
How do you teach kids to appreciate animals, instill in them a curiosity about different ways of living, and suggest to them the vastness of the world? Create a cartoon about a filmmaking family that dashes to a new corner of the globe in each episode -- to Finland, Australia, India, or the Everglades. In THE WILD THORNBERRYS, the main character, a miniature Dr. Dolittle in the form of a 12-year-old girl, meets click-talking Kung people, Maasai, and Aborigines and interacts with everything from aye-ayes, to wombats, to humpback whales.
Is it any good?
The premise of The Wild Thornberrys is tailored to a child's imagination. The Thornberry kids don't attend regular school, they're on vacation all the time, they live in a camper, and the protagonist has a secret power no one knows about. It's a fantasy life, for sure, but the series explores the real customs of many different cultures and the real behavior and habitats of countless kinds of animals.
Episodes also delve into family relationships. OK, so a wild boy found in the jungle and a chimp happen to live with this family, but Eliza (Lacey Chabert) and teenager Debbie (Danielle Harris) still struggle to overcome sibling rivalry, learn responsibility, and form independent identities. The show presents a nuclear family living an alternative lifestyle; as a result, even episodes with traditional growing-up themes come across as fresh and new compared to many home and school-centered family shows. Also worth noting is the married relationship here, which is surprisingly rich and multidimensional compared to most marriages seen on television. The Thornberry parents (Tim Curry and Jodi Carlisle), true partners and great role models, include their family in the realization of their own dreams and in the pursuit of travel, creativity, and adventure.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the bickering between the sisters. Is it realistic, or do you just find it grating? Young and old viewers may also discuss what a loving sibling relationship should look like.