Western Animation / Father of the Pride

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Father of the Pride is a short-lived computer-animated sitcom. It is the first television production produced by DreamWorks Animation, as well as the first show to use feature film quality CGI. It aired on NBC on August 31, 2004.

Set in Las Vegas, the show depicts the secret lives of the animals who live there. The main characters are the family of white lions (father Larry, mother Kate, teenage daughter Sierra, son Hunter, and father-in-law Sarmoti) that form part of Siegfried and Roy's act. All the other animals in the Secret Garden (S&R's private zoo) basically act as sitcom neighbors.

The series was heavily hyped during the Olympics before it premiered, and featured loads of celebrities in regular and cameo roles. Dreamworks had high hopes for it, but before the premiere, Roy was attacked by one of his tigers, putting a pall on the proceedings. The duo insisted that The Show Must Go On.

However, the series was a flop anyway for several reasons. For one, it was very uncomfortable to watch the show with Roy's recent mauling in mind. Many airings were repeatedly interrupted by updates on the 2004 presidential election, and by that point, there had been such a glut of advertising that audiences were sick of it. Plus, the series was too expensive and time-consuming, with each episode costing over 1.5 million dollars to make and over 9 months to completenote . Some episodes never aired in the U.S. (with one that was never finished being animated), though the entire series was released on DVD.

Father of the Pride is mainly remembered now for being one of the most colossal flops in the history of prime-time animation, which prompted DWA to bury this series deep in their animation archives, eventually having more success in kids' shows.


Tropes:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Sierra wears a black collar, Hunter wears an Elizabethan collar (a cone, in other words), Foo Lin wears a bow on her head, and Mr. Right wears a purple bow and collar or a red handkerchief (in "Stage Fright"). A few other animals in the show count as this trope as well.
  • Advertising by Association: This was the reason it caught the ire of the Parents Television Council; ads for the show cited its studio as the creators of Shrek, which they felt would mislead kid/family audiences into watching a show that was most decidedly not made for them.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese theme song is "Ofuro Paradise" by Biyuchifuruzu. A little bit of it can be heard here.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The Secret Garden really did house a white lion named Sarmoti (albeit a female one).
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Larry and Kate embarrass their daughter Sierra in "Catnip and Trust" due to being high on catnip. Their antics nearly cost Sierra qualification for the honor roll.
  • An Aesop: Some episodes end on one or two, despite the apparent nature of the series.
  • Animated Actors: In this universe, Donkey is a celebrity and the star of the Shrek films.
  • Anthropomorphic Zig-Zag: The animals tend to act like normal animals when working with Siegfried and Roy, but act like humans when they are not in the presence of humans. Occasionally, they will also act sapiently when in the presence of humans anyway.
  • Arranged Marriage: Larry and Kate apparently had one. They do genuinely love one another though.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: In "Possession," Sarmoti teaches Hunter the ancient predatory ways of Mombasa. This tradition is actually the name of a large coastal city in Kenya and has nothing to do with being a warrior. It is implied that Sarmoti made the whole thing up.
  • Ass Shove: Sarmoti hides his poker winnings in the rectum of the zebra rugs made from his first kill. Unfortunately nobody told Kevin, the very much alive zebra who'd be standing in for the rug after Kate destroyed it.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Siegfried and Roy in "Siegfried and Roy: The Movie Fantasy Experience Movie."
  • Badass Grandpa: Sarmoti.
  • Berserk Button: Don't tell Kate how to raise her children, even if she's your child.
  • Beware the Nice Ones
    • Hunter, for most of the show, is a wimp who's frequently bullied and picked on by his big sister. Then Sarmoti teaches him self defense and turns him into a monster who almost kills his sparring partner and, later, tortures Snack.
    • And as mentioned above, Kate goes ballistic when her father tries to tell her how to parent her own children, destroying his prized zebra-skin rug out of blind rage.
  • Big Eater: Larry and Sarmoti. The latter rubs his quick metabolism in the former's face in the episode where Larry is trying to lose weight.
  • Black Best Friend: Orlando Jones as the gopher Snack.
    • Also, Sarmoti's poker friend who's a black panther.
  • Black Comedy: Siegfried solemnly saying "I'll get the gun" the minute Larry slips off a pedestal. When Roy says that they're taking him to a vet instead, Siegfried says he wishes Roy was there when his grandmother fell.
  • Broken Masquerade: With Snack and Roy in "Stage Fright."
  • Brutal Honesty: Sarmoti, especially towards Foo Lin.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Seigfried and Roy are portrayed as this. They're even capable of unrehearsed, but more importantly REAL magic, like turning a bamboo staff into an edible Liquorice Whip..
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Sierra and Sarmoti in one episode and with Barbara Streisand and a lobster in another episode.
    • Sarmoti gets one once every other episode, usually from Kate.
  • The Cameo: Donkey!
  • Camp Gay: Donkey's stunt double Jarmeece.
    • Dom De Luise's character in "One Man's Meat Is Another Man's Girlfriend."
  • Cats Are Mean: Sierra is quite rebellious and sometimes mean, while Sarmoti is always mean to Larry
  • Cats Hate Water/Hates Baths: Averted with Hunter when we see him in the bath, though Larry threatens him with a water-sprayer when trying to get him to reveal Sierra's whereabouts in "Catnip and Trust."
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Sarmoti always makes snide remarks about his son-in-law Larry.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Siegfried and Roy are depicted as very eccentric and with odd perceptions of how the world works, at one point even believing that Las Vegas is in danger because an Applebee's got replaced by a bed and breakfast.
  • Companion Cube: Sarmoti's zebra rug, made out of his first kill.
  • Crocodile Tears: Sierra hustles Sartomi out of the money he won from her boyfriend in poker by pretending to bawl and milk sympathy from him in "One Man's Meat is Another Man's Girlfriend".
  • Daddy Issues
    • Hinted at with Kate and her relationship to Sarmoti. The pilot has her frequently apologizing for his ego and denies any of the obvious signs that he hates Larry. Every episode after has her slowly getting fed up with his bad behavior and revealing that some of the worse things he did during her childhood rubbed off on her.
    • One Running Gag has Roy frequently bemoaning that his father never loved him. In "Stage Fright," he tries to get Kelsey Grammer (under the assumption that he's a psychiatrist like his character on Fraiser) to help him with this and winds up attacking him during a role play.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sierra and Sarmoti, though Larry has his moments as well.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Siegfried and Roy: The Movie Fantasy Experience Movie."
  • Dirty Old Man: Sarmoti is frequently hitting on younger feline women.
    • Really Gets Around: The unfinished, storyboard-only episode on the DVD reveals that he either has slept with, is sleeping with or plans to sleep with every single female in the compound, regardless of species.
  • Dom Com But Furry!
  • Dynamic Entry: Siegfried and Roy's usual schtick. You know the two are about to walk right in your front door when their Leitmotif starts to play and smoke billows in from out of nowhere. Larry manages to pull off a Dynamic Exit in episode 11 when he is creeped out by the feminist group Kate joined- by dive-bombing out of the first-floor window.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: both Snack and Sarmoti have tunnel networks at their disposal, since the Secret garden is... rather hard to leave at times.
  • Fantastic Racism: Sartomi is shown to be prejudiced towards turkeys in "The Thanksgiving Episode."
  • Fat Cat: Mr. Right and Larry
  • Fun with Acronyms: The name "Sarmoti" is derived from Siegfried And Roy Masters Of The Impossible.
  • Fur Is Clothing: Snack uses his belly button as a pocket in the pilot episode.
  • Furry Baldness: Sarmoti's mane doesn't cover the top of his head and is even shown wearing a toupee in the pilot.
  • Furry Confusion/Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better: Donkey from Shrek and his stunt double, Jarmeece walk on four legs, but the zebras usually walk on two legs.
    • Likewise, Mr. Right, Foo Lin's pet cat, usually walks on all fours, but the lions, tigers, cheetahs, and other cats usually walk on two legs.
    • Chutney the elephant walks on all four legs, unlike most of the other animals.
  • Furry Female Mane: Inverted with the lions of course.
  • G-Rated Drug: Catnip is treated like a drug in "Catnip and Trust". Larry and Kate even start to behave as if they are high after consuming sausages laced with the stuff.

  • Gilligan Cut: Combined with Flashback Twist on one occasion.
    Larry: (one year ago) "I promise I'll never forget our wedding anniversary again!"
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: A brief running joke with Kate in the Thanksgiving episode.
    "Son of a b!"
    "You, sir, can go to h!"
    "Dad, what the f-" (Cut to black)
  • Granola Girl: Sierra.
  • Gratuitous German: Siegfried and Roy.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Larry: "We're a new generation of parents! We had a lot of fun, so you don't have to!"
  • Growling Gut: Larry has a hard time shutting up his hungry stomach throughout an episode where he's put on a diet.
  • Hartman Hips: All of the female lions sport these.
  • High on Catnip: An entire episode centers around Larry and Kate's assumptions that their daughter is smoking catnip. They end up accidentally ingesting it themselves, and rather... pot-like effects take hold.
  • Homage: to the classic family sitcom format, from All In The Family to The Simpsons.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: A source of angst for Sarmoti is him messing up a stunt in one of the Siegfried and Roy's earliest television appearances, which lead to a baby Blake steal the show and forever make Siegfried and Roy synonymous with white tigers instead of white lions.
  • Inherently Funny Word: "Monkey Chicken Cheese Balls." According to the DVD Commentary, the writers attempted to work the words "monkey," "chicken," "cheese" and "balls" into the show as much as possible, as they felt they were the four funniest words in comedy.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: In the episode "Donkey", one of Hunter's classmates mentions that Tony the tiger "took a nap" with his mother.
  • Large Ham: Siegfried and Roy, of course. The final scene of the pilot establishes how they treat everything like a performance.
    Siegfried: Und so we close zee book on another day of magic unt mystery.
    Roy: No, not yet.
    (The two strike a "jazz hands" pose and smile)
    Roy: Now!
  • Leitmotif: The chorus of Michael Jackson's "Mind Is The Magic," the theme for the real Siegfried and Roy show in Vegas, plays whenever they enter the scene.
  • Masquerade: Think about it. Larry and the rest of the Talking Animals usually walk upright but tend to drop on all fours in the presence of humans...
  • Meaningful Name
    • Sarmoti stands for Siegfried and Roy: Masters of The Impossible.
    • Sierra is a region in Nevada.
  • Mistaken for Gay: In "The Siegfried & Roy Movie Fantasy Experience Movie," Kate is taken to a women's self-help club, and upon entering nervously exclaims "I like men!"
    • Becomes a Brick Joke when Larry comes to the group to "save" her:
    Larry: "GIVE ME BACK MY WIFE, YOU CRAZY LESBIANS!"
  • Multiboobage: The female pig in the "Donkey" episode has eight nipples.
    • And there's a couple references to Kate or the other female cats having eight nipples, despite appearing to have humanoid breasts (and real lions only having four nipples).
  • Mythology Gag: After getting kicked by Chutney, Snack bounces off of three sunbathing women's breasts to the tune of the "NBC" station jingle.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted. While Siegfried and Roy are voiced by impersonators, the real Siegfried and Roy are credited as exec producers, making the whole project legitimately sanctioned.
    • But otherwise played straight - one episode has Dick Cheney and Barbra Streisand.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted.
    Sarmoti: ...now if you'll excuse me I'm gonna hit the litter box...hard!
  • Nonhumans Lack Attributes: Averted with the female pig in the "Donkey" episode; she has eight nipples showing.
  • Noodle Incident: From the unfinished episode:
    "So long story short, I don't have to pee sitting down. But I'll admit, at night, it's dark, I do it anyway."
  • Offhand Backhand: From Siegfried to Roy.
  • Panda-ing to the Audience: Kate's friend Foo Lin and her date, Nelson from the Missing Episode, NOT depicted as token Asian neighbors.
  • Panthera Awesome
  • Papa Wolf: Larry is frequently shown to be very protective of his daughter.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Siegfried and Roy attempt to spy on a rival magic show by attending incognito (see: wearing eyeglasses).
  • Product Placement: 7-Eleven, Applebee's and TiVO.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: When Larry, Sarmoti and Snack attempt to kidnap Donkey.
    (The three of them walk past Donkey, Sarmoti carrying a parasol, Larry pushing a carriage with Snack inside, dressed as a baby)
    Sarmoti: Top of the mornin'!
    Larry: Nice day!
    Snack: What a baby might say!
  • Real Song Theme Tune: John Goodman singing Elvis' "Viva Las Vegas".
    • Siegfried and Roy's theme song, which was their real theme song for their Vegas show.
  • Running Gag: "Possession" has one where Larry does an impression of a "swarthy foreign handyman" to woo Kate, who keeps telling him to shut up.
  • Running on All Fours: As part of the animals' Masquerade.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Sarmoti is often very selfish and inconsiderate.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Snack the gopher. Also there is a minor recurring lynx character.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal/The Unintelligible: The turkeys. Though it turns out at the end of an episode that they can speak English, they just sound silly if they do.
  • Stealth Pun: One of Sarmoti's friends is a black panther with the voice of an old African-American man.
  • Straw Feminist: Averted with Lily from the unaired episode "The Siegfried & Roy Movie Fantasy Experience Movie," who's efforts are more to help women be self-sufficient, not convince them that they're better than me. She frequently reprimands Foo Lin for making misandrist statements and is perfectly nice (if a little condescending) to Larry when she first meets him. The unfinished episode on the DVD shows her even trying to help Sarmoti grow out of his dated, misogynistic tendencies.
  • Strictly Formula: [adult swim] bumpers quipped that despite the funny animals and heavy usage of sex and toilet humor, none of the plots would be out of place in a 1960s or 70s era sitcom.
  • The Swear Jar: Siegfried makes Roy put money in a swear jar in "Larry's Debut and Sweet Darryl Hannah, Too" for mentioning Queen Nefertiti, most likely due to part of her name sounding like "titty".
  • Take That!
    • In the pilot episode, Sierra and Hunter were watching a movie, whose cover had a picture of a lion with a crown.
    Hunter: What's happening now?
    Sierra: Oh, Simba was sad, and then Darth Vader said some made up African crap.
    • The antelope who bullies Hunter compares him to Kimba the White Lion.
    • Sarmoti describes one of his dates as "easier to get into than Florida State."note 
  • Starring Special Effects
  • Stealth Pun: Sarmoti's Black Best Friend is a black panther.
  • Talking Animal: All the animals can speak.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Some of the female animals, like Foo Lin the panda and the female antelope, wear bows on their heads.
  • Token Minority: several, particularly Chutney the Indian elephant.
  • Too Sexy For This Time Slot: What some parents thought about the first episode's "Mounting Time" joke.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Subverted, in that the animals carrying them were going to a tiki party/harvest festival. Double Subverted when they get mad and need something to express their anger... so they drop their weapons and pick up some large rocks.
  • Totally Radical:
    Kate: "I wanna raise the roof! Get jiggy with it! Do the wild thing!"
    Foo Lin: "Why are you talking like a black man from 1991?"
  • Transparent Closet:
    (Hearing Hunter singing "Silent All These Years" in the bathroom) "Are we still pretending he's not gay?"
  • Typical Cartoon Animal Colors: Emerson the lobster is red like a cooked lobster rather than brown like a live one.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Sarmoti again, although he's Larry's father-in-law.
    "Larry, I want you to know that even if you were my real son, I'd be pretty disappointed - but I'd make do."
  • Yes-Man: Sarmoti's personal assistant.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: Weekly viewers would notice the same 'extras' filling out crowd scenes episode to episode.

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