Remember a show about a young girl with braids and braces who can speak to animals? In this Animation Flashback, we are embarking on a wild trip back to one of our fave ’90s show: THE WILD THORNBERRYS.
Originally aired on Nickelodeon from 1998 to 2004, The Wild Thornberrys franchise consisted of five television series (91 episodes), two television films, and two theatrical films.
The Wild Thornberrys revolve around the nomadic family ‘Thornberrys’ who travel around the world in their Kombi van. You might think their family is beyond cool but they’re actually eccentric and dysfunctional.
Famous for their televised wildlife studies, documentary filmmakers Nigel and Marianne film their interactions with animals on a daily basis. Unfortunately, due to this work arrangement, their two daughters Debbie and Eliza must tag along as well.
Meet our protagonist, Eliza Thornberry. She might be an awkward 11-year-old girl but she’s got a special gift that many people would envy. When she rescues a shaman from danger, she gets blessed with unique powers that enable her to communicate with animals. The only catch is — if her secret gets exposed, she will lose her powers.
Because of this gift, this also allows her to talk to her pet chimpanzee, Darwin. Together, the pair (sometimes accompanied by Donnie the adopted feral boy) frequently venture through the wilderness. Whether it is befriending animals or learning more about the wildlife, no day is ever the same for Eliza. And for us!
As a young viewer back then, we loved watching Nigel’s bizarre antics; we wanted to be grunge, sarcastic and sophisticated like Debbie; we envied Darwin’s British accent; we admired Marianne’s resilience and patience with her family; and of course, talk to animals like Eliza.
Not only did this show encourage young viewers to be empathetic toward animals, but it was a great way to learn about other countries and their respective ways of life. And believe it or not, the show sometimes deal with serious issues as well such as sibling bonds; children’s relationship with working parents; and young people dealing with self-worth and confidence.
With so much life, heart, comedy, adventure and educational motives — what’s not to like about The Wild Thornberrys? Let’s take a trip down memory lane!
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