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Western Animation / The Last of the Curlews

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The Last of the Curlews was an animated special produced by Hanna-Barbera. It was the very first ABC Afterschool Special and debuted in 1972. It is an Animated Adaptation of a book that tells the fictional life of the last of a breed of bird, that might very well be extinct in real life.

The special itself was nominated for and won an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming.

This series provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The father and son hunters are added for the special.
  • Animated Adaptation: Of the book by Fred Bodsworth
  • Animation Bump: As with many cases, when Hanna-Barbera were alloted a bigger budget, they didn't cut as many corners.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: The special features a father and son on hunting trips as wraparound segments. It is obvious the son does not want to be a killer, despite his father's gung-ho attitude about the trips.
  • Downer Ending: "Once there were many thousands of eskimo curlews. Then there were two. Now there is one. Soon there will be none."
  • Endangered Species: Our lead is one.
  • Evil Is Petty: Spot a couple harmless birds hanging around your farm? Well, they need to die. Simply put, the farmer isn't a nice guy.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: While this was aimed at family audiences it used death to send a point. We see countless birds shot out of the sky lying dead on the ground.
  • Foreshadowing: The music number is quite upbeat but talks in the past tense, and then turns into a somber ballad. Foreshadowing this happiness will soon end.
  • Hate Sink: The farmer who spots the mated curlew pair landing on his field to rest. He immediately grabs his double barreled shotgun and fires at them, fatally wounding the female, all while sporting a very nasty Slasher Smile.
  • Interspecies Adoption: The Male Curlew falls in with a flock of golden plovers and takes pride in leading them. At the time he was just happy to be around other birds.
  • Killed Off for Real: And probably in real life too.
  • Last of His Kind: Who do you think?
  • Narrator: Lee Vines.
  • Not Quite Dead: At first you may think the female is dead when she drops to the ground for the first time, but she is still alive for a short bit longer.
  • Stay with Me Until I Die: The male curlew stays with the female until she dies.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Narrator implies this is what humans thought of the curlews. As when one got shot the others would come back to see what had happened.
  • The X of Y: The title.
  • Xenofiction: With a few slight touches.