Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon have kicked off the New Year in fine fashion. The two companies already have a somewhat busy slate of releases set in this still very young year. Next month sees the release of Rocko’s Modern Life: The Complete Series. Before that though, audiences of the fellow classic Nicktoon, The Wild Thornberrys finally get to see the final piece to the show’s second season. The Wild Thornberrys: Season 2 Part 3 is available in stores and online now. The Thornberrys’ “wild” globe hopping, adventures have only just begun with this last portion of Season 2, as there are still three more seasons left to be released. This time out, viewers finally get to see Eliza’s “origin” story so to speak, as it is finally revealed how she got her secret powers. Also Debbie inadvertently becomes mother to a baby Panda, only to find herself having become emotionally attached to it just like a real mother. And also Nigel’s life is in Eliza’s hands after he is stung by a poisonous fish during a search for an Angler Fish.
The adventures included in the final portion of The Wild Thornberrys Season 2 Part 3 continue to show just how strong the writing was for this classic Nicktoon in its infancy. As with so many other Nicktoons of its era, the episodes included in this double disc set continue to show just how much heart the show had (and still has today by comparison to other shows out there). Each episode in its own way continued to highlight the importance of family while balancing that with the show’s educational and even ecological aspects. Every episode included in this new set emphasizes educational aspects without even trying, by teaching about different animals of different regions of the world. That’s even the case in the set’s “origin” episode, “Gift of Gab.” It teaches not only geography but also biology. That lesson on biology is also echoed in the episode, “Black and White and Mom All Over.” Eliza’s sister Debbie learns a lesson of how wild animals connect to the first thing they see when they’re young after a baby panda mistakes her for its mother. That biology lesson is directly tied in to the show’s emphasis on another aspect that still makes it so enjoyable to this day. That aspect is its emphasis on family.
The educational role of The Wild Thornberrys is only part of what continues to make this such a fan favorite to this day. The show’s emphasis on family plays a role in its heart, too. As already noted, one of the episodes that shows that emphasis is “Black and White and Mom All Over.” That theme is also evident in “Bogged Down” in which it’s up to Eliza to save Nigel’s life. As excited as she is to be out with her father, one little error on her part nearly costs him his life. So Eliza has to put her squabbles with Debbie on the backburner in order to save her dad’s life. And in “Gift of Gab”, the family aspect is offered when Eliza tells the story of how she and Darwin first met and he essentially became part of the Thornberry family.
As much enjoyment as The Wild Thornberrys brings from its writing and its educational emphasis, the show’s animation also plays a role in its enjoyment. In a time when it would seem that the very art of creating hand drawn art is dying, this latest installment of the classic Nicktoon serves as yet another reminder of how much better hand drawn art is in comparison to the CG crafted material that currently permeates television stations across the spectrum. Just as with even older cartoons (on both television and in theaters), the animation of The Wild Thornberrys boasts a very specific style. While the show itself was one more creation from Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo (who also created the ultimate Nicktoon, Rugrats), the animation of this show was entirely different from that of Rugrats and the other cartoons which were created by the pair. The animation style really served as the most basic identifier of the cartoon. There was a certain roughness and definition all at once about it. Set against the likes of Rugrats, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, and Rocket Power, perhaps the closest that any of these comes to The Wild Thornberrys in terms of its animation style would be Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. Though, even that similarity is slight at best. That defining mark, added in to the equally impressive writing and work by a star cast of voice actors has made The Wild Thornberrys one of Nickelodeon’s elite Nicktoons. And thanks to the latest of the show’s DVD releases, it still holds that title to this day. The Wild Thornberrys Season 2 Part 3 is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct online via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/216648.
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