The Wild Thornberrys is an American animated television series that aired on Nickelodeon. It was rerun in the USA on Nickelodeon and occasionally The N until 2009 and Nicktoons Network until 2007.
The series follows the Thornberrys, as they travel the world in their Communications Vehicle, referred to throughout the show as their "Commvee," looking for rare animals to film. Their second youngest child, Eliza, is the main character and has the power to speak to animals because of an encounter with an African shaman, Lopsugne Sjoungboun Qeisha. She can speak to the family's pet chimpanzee, who is also her best friend. She travels the world with her family and usually helps animals solve their problems. The show was aired on Nicktoonsters in Britain.
At the beginning of every episode, Eliza recites a monologue, which is then followed by the theme music. It states the basic premise of the show, and provides a brief back story.
The Wild Thornberrys was produced by Klasky Csupo for Nickelodeon. It premiered in September 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).
Voiced by Lacey Chabert and on certain episodes, Becca Gilley, Eliza is the main character, who (unknown to most) gained the ability to speak with animals after an encounter with an African shaman (as shown in the episode "Gift of Gab").Despite her best intentions, Eliza's stubborness that she's always right leads her strong desire to help to become destructive. Eliza is portrayed as a geek by her extensive zoological knowledge and her glasses, braces and by occasionally standing pigeon-toed. She has freckles and long red-orange hair that is usually worn in pigtails like Pippi Longstocking, and occasionally a ponytail. She also has a companion-monkey (chimpanzee) like Pippi Longstocking; but instead of superhuman strength, Eliza has the "super-power" of being able to talk to animals. She almost always wears a yellow dress, though later in the series she sports other clothes. Eliza suffered a serious attack of appendicitis while rock climbing in the Australian outback. Eliza is 12 in the series. Despite being the main character of The Wild Thornberrys, Eliza plays a supporting role in the film Rugrats Go Wild.
Voiced by Tom Kane with the monkey noises of Blake Farmer, Darwin is a chimpanzee who travels with the family and is a loyal companion to Eliza. He usually wears a tank top with horizontal blue and white stripes (use to be Debbie's lucky tank top) and blue shorts. He speaks with a distinct upper-class British accent. He tries to be the voice of reason to Eliza, however she rarely takes his advice. Cautious by nature, he is almost always hesitant to follow her plans; in response, she accuses him of cowardice, once calling him a "crybaby in a tank-top" for his hesitancy. He was found by Eliza, and was the first animal she ever talked to. His name is most likely reference to Charles Darwin who created the Theory of Evolution, though within the series Eliza gives him the name Darwin after Lenny Darwin, her cousin who looks like a monkey (is never shown in the series).
Voiced by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and occasionally Tyler Arfman - on more than one occasion the little known Dylan James voiced the character - Donnie is a feral boy who (as revealed in the 2001 4-part TV movie, "The Wild Thornberrys: The Origin of Donnie") was raised by orangutans (similar to Tarzan) after his real parents, a pair of naturalists, were killed by poachers. Before the Thornberrys adopted him, the special also reveals that Nigel and Marianne knew his parents. He commonly wears a pair of leopard-spotted shorts (also similar to Tarzan's leopardskin loincloth) and he loves to eat all types of bugs. He babbles wildly and makes animal-sounds (but nothing Eliza can understand), occasionally spouting blurbs of English or showing random signs of sophisticated education. Donnie is 4, but turns 5 in "The Origin of Donnie". It was shown that while his parents were teaching orangutans sign language, he learned as well. Though only one sign was shown (family), it is unknown how much he actually knows. This also shows that aside from his primal behavior, Donnie is pretty intelligent.
Voiced by Danielle Harris, Debbie is a typical 16-year-old girl who is Eliza's older sister, interested in music and fashion, and who longs for the normal suburban life her parents' job deprives her of. Even though she ridicules Eliza, she truly does care for her. She commonly wears an orange camisole, a green flannel shirt, blue jeans (with holes deliberately torn in the knees as a 'grungy' fashion statement) and brown Birkenstock clogs. In "The Wild Thornberrys Movie", she learns Eliza's secret after Eliza reveals it to the poachers that were threatening to kill her if Eliza didn't tell them how she knew about their plan to kill a herd of elephants. Debbie is amazed that Eliza gave up her gift to save her life and promises to keep her secret -- but only under the belief that if she doesn't, she'll be turned into a baboon. It is shown in the episode "Chew If by Sea" that Debbie suffers from chronic seasickness.
- Sir. Nigel Archibald Thornberry
- Voiced by Tim Curry and every now and then by John Anderson, Nigel, born in Australia, is (presumably) the only child of Radcliffe and Cordelia Thornberry. He travels around the world with his family making wildlife documentaries. He resembles Steve Irwin and David Attenborough, and speaks with an English accent. He somewhat resembles Lt. Col. Algernon Hawthorne in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, played by Terry-Thomas. He is easily ethused and usually remains cheery, even in the face of danger. He was offered a professorship at Oxford University but, much to his mother's disapproval, Nigel turned it down. Although he is an expert at the natural world, Nigel often otherwise appears dimwitted or naive. In the series, Nigel is a supporting character, but in the film Rugrats Go Wild, Nigel plays a much larger role as he is idolized by Tommy Pickles.
- Marianne Hunter Thornberry
- Voiced by Jodi Carlisle, Marianne is Nigel's wife. She operates the film camera and edits their nature show. Marianne is a strong woman, often the voice of reason, and sometimes loses patience with Nigel. She is usually the one to take on disciplinary duties, trying to keep the girls out of trouble and finish their homework. In Season 1, Episode 12, she mentions that she attended the University of California, Berkeley.
The Commvee (an abbreviation of "communications vehicle") is a two-story mobile home; the main door leads up a flight of stairs to a main floor with the driver and passenger seat in the front, followed by a twin sized bed, table for eating at on the west side of the car, a kitchen on the eastern side, and a bathroom in the back which also serves as a dark-room for editing film. There is a "basement/1st floor" that contains one room with a big bed for Nigel and Marianne, a room with a two small beds (for Debbie and Eliza) and two hammocks for Donnie and Darwin. There is also a small box near the floor of the "main story" that contains various switches which can inflate a raft for crossing rivers and the ocean to a "lock-down" mode in which iron plates cover the windows (as seen in Thornberry Island) for typhoons; there are other switches that can put the car into a submarine mode, or inflate a bag on top of the car for falling objects or rising to the surface of the ocean. Near the 'switch box' there is a hatch (as seen in Rugrats Go Wild) that gives access to a mini-sub. There is also a roof with a satellite that barely ever gets reception, but is used to upload footage to the foundation. On the outside there are many compartments, supposedly for carrying equipment and other smaller vehicles such as the 'mini-comm' for short-range transport or picking up passengers and returning them to camp or the submarine for deep sea expedition (the bath-o-sphere). The Commvee also features the usual conveniences found in a motorhome, including air-conditioning and a stereo system with a cassette tape player.
They also have a variety of cameras with which they film.
Main article: List of The Wild Thornberrys episodes
Three movies have been released:
- The Wild Thornberrys: The Origin Of Donnie (2001): This prequel was released as a TV film and explores Donnie's life before he was found by the Thornberrys.
- [Wild Thornberrys Movie|The Wild Thornberrys Movie] (2002): This theatrical film made $60 million and earned an Academy Award nomination.
- Rugrats Go Wild (2003): This theatrical film was the final Rugrats film and a cross-over between Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys.