Really Wild Animals
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Really Wild Animals is a children's nature television series, hosted by Dudley Moore as Spin, an anthropomorphic globe. Comprising 26 episodes, the series aired between October 24, 1993 and March 2, 1998, first on the CBS Television Network and then on Disney Channel. The series was released on thirteen VHS tapes, and later on thirteen DVDs. The creator and executive producer of Really Wild Animals was Andrew Carl Wilk. The series was nominated for five national Emmy Awards and won one.
|Really Wild Animals|
|Created by||Andrew Carl Wilk|
|Presented by||Dudley Moore|
|Theme music composer||Darryl Kubian|
|No. of episodes||26|
|Executive producer(s)||Andrew Carl Wilk|
|Running time||Home video/DVD - 45 minutes|
TV version - 30 minutes
|Production company(s)||National Geographic Society|
Caesar Video Graphics (1993–1994)
Click 3X (1994–1998)
|Original network||CBS Television Network (1993–1995), followed by Disney Channel (1996–1998), then Syndication|
|Original release||October 24, 1993 – March 2, 1998|
Released by the National Geographic Society, the series educates children about many different species of animals. Initially, the series go to every continent describing the wildlife on each one. The series has episodes that focuses on one specific group of animals, such as dogs, cats, endangered animals and animals of the African savannah.
Billy West was credited in later episodes of the series as doing additional voices.
One of the composers of the series was Alan O'Day. The underscore of most episodes, as well as the main theme of the series, were composed by Darryl Kubian. Songs for each episode were written, produced and performed by Alan O'Day and Janis Liebhart. In the end of an episode or the first half of an episode that is divided into mini-episodes, Spin says, "But (you know), there are lots more Really Wild Animals all across this wonderful world of ours, so be sure to join me on our next (exciting) adventure. Until then, this is your pal Spin. Spin ya later!"
The series was released on thirteen VHS tapes. Around 2003, National Geographic began releasing the episodes on DVD. Around 2007, Warner Brothers then released the episodes on DVD.
- Swinging Safari - October 24, 1993
- Note: The DVD version omits the Weather Update, Africa's Most Wanted, Traffic Update and As the Earth Turns signs.
This first episode features animals from Africa, primarily in the Serengeti Plain, but also the jungles of mid-Africa and the Kalahari Desert. These animals include elephants, zebras, rhinos, chimpanzees, cheetahs, meerkats, colobus monkeys, and lions. Throughout the program, the law of survival and the food chain are emphasized. Jane Goodall and Daphne Sheldrick appear.
This episode contains five songs. The first one is about lions (The Lion Song); the second talks about baby animals (Young Thing); the third talks about how humans, monkeys and apes are all related (Family); the fourth is about zebras (Stripes); and the fifth one is about Africa as well as its beauty (The Heart That Beats in Africa) sung by Dorian Holley.
- Wonders Down Under - November 16, 1993
In this episode, the animals of Australia are examined. The theme of "weirdness" among Australia's native creatures (compared to the rest of the world) is explored by taking a look at mammals, birds and reptiles. The kangaroo, echinda, platypus, riflebird, bowerbird, lyrebird, emu, malleefowl, frilled lizard, water-holding frog, dingo, koala, and more are all featured.
This episode contains five songs (not counting Spin's marsupial rap). The first one is about Australia and how unique it is (Down Under); the second focuses on kangaroos (Wait Up, Kangaroo); the third focuses on the strange adaptations of animals in Australia (Proud to Be Strange); the fourth is about the reptiles and amphibians of the Outback (Tracks in the Sand); and the fifth one is about how despite the "strange" appearances, all of Australia's animals make it a unique land (Strange New Friend).
- Deep Sea Dive - December 1, 1993
- Note: This is the first episode where Spin explores around the world instead of just sticking to one continent and the final one where he appears in his original animation.
This episode takes the plunge into the world's oceans and explores underwater life. Key destinations visited include the Great Barrier Reef, and Antarctica. Some of the animals featured are dolphins, octopus, seahorses, fishes, sharks, cuttlefish, penguins, jellyfish, sea otters, and whales. The film attempts to capture the wonders of the sea and the importance of protecting it from pollution.
This episode contains five songs. The first one is about water (In the Water); the second focuses on strange animals that live deep in the sea (City of the Creeps); the third focuses on the importance of keeping the water clean (If the Water is Clear); the fourth is about animal movement (It's in The Way You Move); and the fifth one is about the "real" underwater treasure, which is all the wildlife (I Found a Treasure).
- Totally Tropical Rain Forest - October 9, 1994
- Notes: This is the first episode that Spin appears in his new animation form. He will remain in this form throughout the rest of the series. In addition, this is the first episode to have less than five songs. The end of this episode has prototype animation in which Spin doesn't put away his magnifying glass at the end, he just zooms in.
An in-depth look at the rainforests of Central and South America ensues in this episode. The film is structured around a journey though the layers of the forest, from the floor to the mid-layers to the canopy. During this journey the jaguar, tapir, leafcutter ant, howler monkey, basilisk lizard, parrot, tarantula, harpy eagle, piranha, vampire bat, hoatzin, uakari, three-toed sloth, and river dolphin are among the animals shown. Environmental issues surrounding deforestation are also looked at.
This episode contains four songs. The first one is about all the life that lives in the rainforest (Greenhouse); the second focuses on the importance of finding food and the food chain (What Do You Want for Lunch); the third focuses on the rainforest canopy and all the birds that call it home (Bird's-Eye View); and the fourth is about the importance of keeping the rainforest safe (This Must Be the Place).
- Amazing North America - November 15, 1994
This episode takes a look at the North American continent from its deserts and swamps to its cities and tundra. Squirrels, polar bears, alligators, beavers, woodpeckers, Arctic wolves, rattlesnakes, musk oxen, raccoons, black bears, corn snakes and red-bellied turtles are all featured. The diversity of the North American landscape, and how all its animals have adapted to it, are all key points in the film.
This episode contains four songs. The first one is about what animals need to do to survive in North America (I Gotta Be Wild); the second is about the places animals call home (Look Who's Moving In); the third focuses on difficulties in getting what animals want (To Get What You Want); and the fourth is about the winter season (Winter).
- Adventures in Asia - December 20, 1994
- Note: The DVD version omits the 555-BIRD phone number during the crane scene, presumably because it is fake.
The immense continent of Asia is explored. With such a large area to cover, this episode jumps from one place to the next. Examples include the Indonesian islands, the Arabian Peninsula, Indian jungles, and Chinese mountains. Some of the featured animals in these locations are the sea snake, the Arabian oryx, the dhole, the proboscis monkey, the tiger, the Asian elephant, the orangutan, the white-bellied sea eagle, and the giant panda. The difference between myth and reality is put to the test in uncovering the lifestyles of all these creatures.
This episode contains four songs. The first one is about all the Asian legends, and how much truth is in them (Legends in Asia); the second is about territories (Get Off of My Turf); the third is about animal roughhousing and how important it is (Roughhouse); and the fourth is about all the life, human, and animal, in Asia (Keep the Legends Alive).
- Polar Prowl - January 3, 1995
- Note: In this episode, the first song doesn't begin until over a minute or so into the episode, marking the first time this has happened in the series.
In this episode, Spin takes the viewer on a trip to the Arctic and Antarctic regions of the earth. Animals such as humpback whales, penguins, orca whales, arctic terns, polar bears, elephant seals, caribou, musk oxen, fur seals, Kodiak bears, and walruses are explored. Additionally, the show examines the three ways animals survive the harsh cold; hibernation, insulation and migration.
This episode contains four songs. The first one is about the cold temperatures and how the animals survive don't mind the cold (Cold, Cold, Cold); the second focuses on ways animals beat the cold (That's the Way We Do It Up Here); the third is all about penguins, and mentions 17 species by name (Penguins); and the fourth is a tribute to Antarctica (The Last Great Wilderness).
- Hot Dogs and Cool Cats - February 20, 1996
- Note: This was the point in the series where Really Wild Animals started airing on TV, and as a result it had to be cut down on episode length. Instead of one 45-minute episode, all VHS/DVDs released would contain two half-hour episodes. Also, beginning here, all episodes only have two songs in them. Only the VHS version has a bridging dog commercial between the two featured episodes, as they had further releases separately.
In the first episode, Spin takes a look at dogs and tries to determine if there is a link between wild and tame dogs. The songs in this episode are about why dogs do what they do, and the loyalty that dogs possess. In the second episode, Spin examines cats and learns that no matter how tame, they're always wild. The songs in this episode are about cats having an attitude, and the second is about how they're wild inside. The second episode is the first time Alan O'Day does not appear in a Really Wild Animals episode.
- Dinosaurs and Other Creature Features - March 6, 1996
- Notes: This is the first episode in which the background changes from the sky to outer space; this background, which had been in place since the first episode, will remain for the rest of the series. Also, Spin misreads the title card as "Dinos and Other Creature Features". Robert T. Bakker appears in the first episode, and in the second half, footage from the Three Stooges episode "Disorder in the Court" and a clip from Killer Shrews is shown.
In the first episode, Spin examines dinosaurs such as Hadrosaurs, Struthiomimus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Dromaeosaurs, and tries to answer the many questions surrounding them, including how they became extinct, and if relatives still exist today such as alligators, snakes, Komodo dragons, lizards, ostriches, cassowarys, and other birds. The songs in this episode focus on dinosaurs (The Dinosaur Rap), and how their modern-day relatives still "rock our world" (We're Gonna Rock Your World). This episode is the first and only episode to not feature Alan O'Day or Janis Liebhart singing the songs. It's also the last episode where a guest singer was brought in. In the second episode, Spin looks at some of the world's creepiest creatures such as vampire bats, ants, flies, spiders, vultures, and dung beetles. This shows that no matter how scary they are, they all play an important part in the world. The first song is about how even though the creatures are creepy, there's something intriguing about them (Creepy Creatures; with animation by Jim & Vezna Tozzi), and the second song is about how important all of them are (Keep on Creeping On).
- Monkey Business and Other Family Fun - November 12, 1996
- Note: Janis Liebhart performs both songs in the first episode; she only appears in a duet in the second episode. Also, this episode features a parody of Candid Camera called "Candid Critter Camera". It's hosted by "Alan Grunt" (an obvious parody of Alan Funt), who is played by Billy West. Only the second Candid Critter Camera segment appears on both the VHS and DVD versions, whereas the first Candid Critter Camera, whose topic features meerkats, only appears in the VHS version, as the episodes had further releases separately.
In the first episode, Spin takes a look at primates of all types, including gibbons, langurs, bush babies, aye-ayes, capuchins, and baboons. He also explains that primates are our distant relatives. The first song is about all primates (Primates), and the second song focuses on gorillas, our "gentle brothers" (Gentle Brother). In the second episode, Spin takes a look at animal families and shows that they're not all that different from human families after all. The songs in this episode are about how curious animal children are (I'm Curious), and how important families are (You're My Family).
- Farmyard Friends - May 6, 1997
- Notes: This is the first VHS/DVD release that doesn't mention the second episode. The TV version of Farmyard Friends was titled Spin's Really Wild Farm Tour. Also, at this point, Warner Brothers became the distributor and started advertising before the episode began.
In the first episode, Spin takes a look at farm animals, such as turkeys, pigs, sheep, horses, and cows, and examines their wild relatives from all over the world. The first song is about all the animals on the farm, and the second focuses on the question of whether the viewer would be wild or free is he/she were a farm animal. In the second episode, Spin takes a look at how humans help endangered animals and how animals rescue people and shows that if people work together to help save animals, they'll prevent them from becoming extinct. The songs in this episode are about help being available for animals, and how if humans work together with animals, everybody will be safe at last.
- Awesome Animal Builders - November 4, 1997
In the first episode, Spin shows animals that their own homes, such as termites, beavers, orb-weaver spiders, swiftlets, bees, silk worms, caterpillars, weaver birds, naked mole rats, & ospreys, and explains that they build their homes to have families. In the second episode, Spin takes a look at animals that migrate, such as wildebeest, sockeye salmon, tundra swans, African elephants, geese, sharks, rays, pronghorn & toads, and explains that the cycle of migration never ends.
- Secret Weapons, Great Escapes, & Island Magic - March 2, 1998
- Note: Despite this being the last episode of Really Wild Animals, the show still ends with Spin saying, "But there are lots more Really Wild Animals all across this wonderful world of ours, so be sure to join me on our next adventure. Until then, this is your pal, Spin. Spin ya later!" This is presumed to encourage the viewer to start over again.
In the first episode, Spin's a spy who is trying to find out how some animals have some ways to defend themselves, such as frilled-neck lizards, poison dart frogs, owl butterflies, green tree pythons, Hemisphaerota beetles, army ants, skunks, Suriname toads, black widow spiders, bombardier beetles, mantis shrimp, cobras, tomato frogs, cone snails, and puffer fish, and finds why animals need these defenses. In the second episode, Spin shows animals that live on certain islands, such as lemurs & chameleons in Madagascar, Marine & land iguanas on the Galapagos, Tasmanian devils & quolls in Tasmania, gannets and keas in New Zealand, fur seals on the Juan Fernández Islands and eastern rockhopper penguins with Snares penguins in Snares Island, and shows how unique they are than mainland animals and footage of New York City and it's Twin Towers. Herons & egrets are also shown in New York City.