Father of the Pride (2004)

Father of the Pride is a very funny animated show.
It was created by Dreamworks back in 2004 specifically for the US prime time. The idea was to build on the success that animated films had with adult audiences and create an animated TV show for adults. Which is why, talking about the nature of the show, I would describe it as very much an animated version of a traditional US sitcom. In other words: while the family structure of our lion protagonists may be similar to the one of the Simpsons or Family Guy, the family dynamics and the tone of the show are more like non-animated sitcoms than those animated ones. Think According to Jim, Still Standing, or Grounded for Life – just better.

The premise is simple: in a Las Vegas zoo/circus, Larry (voiced by John Goodman) is the new head of the Lion Pride, because his father-in-law is getting too old for the job. That does not stop the latter from criticising Larry constantly though, especially reminding him that he is not a real Lion because he was not born in the wild.
As father of the pride, Larry is not only the chief lion, he is also partially in charge when it comes to dealing with the problems or misbehaviour of all the other animals in this Las Vegas troupe. This is one major source from which the plots for the episodes are derived, the other being the Las Vegas show and the animals’ owners/bosses Siegfried & Roy. Yes, the Siegfried & Roy – displayed here in a grotesque satire of their real life counterparts, who, to make things really weird, were co-producers of Father of the Pride.

The animation in this show is much closer in style and quality to Dreamworks’s cinema features than to your average TV animation, although it never reaches the heights of the films. It had to be good enough, though, as it was shown in HDTV in the US. This relatively high quality comes with a high price tag, and – as far as I can recall – that is what eventually broke the shows neck. The ratings were good, but in the long run they were not good enough to justify the costs.
So Father of the Pride got cancelled after just 13 episodes.

As a fan of animation, I always found this show highly entertaining. The writing is good and – although this may sound weird talking about animation – so is the comedic timing.
Even as some episodes may be weaker than others, the show as a whole is so unique (as I tried to outline above) that everyone should check it out. Unless, of course, you whole-heartedly dislike sitcoms or animation.
Fans of the Shrek franchise might be interested to know that Donkey (Eddie Murphy) has a guest appearance in episode 4.

For appetisers, try youtube and the like. The first episode is called “Sarmoti Moves In”. Region 2 DVDs are available at very low prices. Region 1 discs are slightly more expensive, but there are plenty of cheap second-hand offers available.

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