Series / Really Wild Animals
In the early 1990s, the National Geographic Society produced Really Wild Animals
, an edutainment
show for kids starring a talking globe called Spin, voiced by Dudley Moore. This show was before Zoboomafoo
; heck, this show was before Kratts' Creatures
! Its first six videos focused on the various animal habitats of the world, starting with Africa ("Swinging Safari"), Australia ("Wonders Down Under") and the oceans ("Deep Sea Dive"). The next three in the series (where Spin receives a character redesign that sticks with him for the rest of the series) are focused on South America's Amazon ("Totally Tropical Rain Forest"), North America ("Amazing North America") and Asia ("Adventures in Asia"). After covering all the main animal stomping grounds of the world, the series starts focusing on different kinds of animals, starting with "Dinosaurs and Other Creature Features", which focuses on dinosaurs and creepy creatures, like bats and insects. At this point, the format has changed to essentially a double feature, focusing on two subjects, each of which gets two songs.
Oh right, the songs. Every video had at least four songs per episode. National Geographic got Allen O'Day, one of the best songwriters of the 1970s, to produce some songs for the series. The first three videos had five songs each. Starting with the next three, there were no more than four songs per episode, but most kids probably didn't mind, as the songs were were really very good
—good enough that most of those kids, now grown up, still think the songs rock.
All in all, this was a very sophisticated edutainment program for children, one that is overlooked far too often.
Not to be confused with The Really Wild Show
, a very similar and equally obscure BBC series from the early 1990s.
Tropes in Really Wild Animals
- Always a Bigger Fish: The format of a segment explaining the food chain in Swinging Safari—bugs get eaten by frogs, frogs get eaten by bigger frogs, and so forth.
- Bat out of Hell: In the episode "Dinosaurs and Other Creature Features", Spin disproves a whole bunch of myths about bats, telling viewers how they are not evil or monstrous creatures at all.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first three episodes featured a different animation model for Spin, the background was the sky until the third episode of the second season and the entire first season consisted of hour long episodes.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: If the place in question has non-human simians, no doubt about it they will be featured prominently. Special mention goes to "Swinging Safari", where not only do they have special guest Jane Goodall but feature an entire song dedicated to how much monkeys and humans are similar.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: "Deep Sea Dive" Covers the habits of the Emperor Penguin a SOLID DECADE before March of the Penguins.
- King of Beasts: The lions in "Swinging Safari". The song about them even calls them as such.
- Noble Bird of Prey: Frequently appears, and are always played for awesomeness, also some lesser known species appear like the African crowned eagle and white belled sea eagle from Southeast Asia.
- Predators Are Mean: The show plays with this, being a show intended for all ages, not really ever showing a predator killing anything. (Other than insects and fish, most of the time.) And whenever there is a conflict between predator and prey, as between the mother ground squirrel and the rattlesnake, the prey is treated like the hero and the predator the villain. While the show tries to assure us that that there are no evil animals, it still does give the feel of this trope.