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Father of the Pride
740full-father-of-the-pride-poster

Father of the Pride is an American animated television series that was broadcasted on NBC on August 31, 2004 and was part of a short-lived trend of CGI series in prime-time network television (after Game Over).

The series, which was produced by Jeffrey Katzenberg and his company DreamWorks Animation, revolves around a family of white lions, the patriarch of which stars in a Siegfried and Roy show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Despite heavy promotion, the series was unsuccessful and was cancelled after its first season. Transmission and production were also delayed by Roy Horn's real-life on-stage injury in October 2003. This is the only DreamWorks Animation series to be aimed for adults. Despite the failure of the series, it has gained a small following.

Since its cancellation in mid 2005, there have been petitions online demanding to bring the series back. It is unknown if these efforts will succeed.

Voice castEdit

EpisodesEdit

Main article: List of Father of the Pride episodes

ProductionEdit

In 2002, Jeffrey Katzenberg came up with the idea for Father of the Pride when he visited Siegfried and Roy how in Las Vegas: "I thought, I wonder what it's like for those lions. What must life be like from their point of view? [They're] living in Las Vegas, trying to raise a family and earn a living. In animation, we look for those things — a way to look at our lives through a fantasy world. It allows us to take on subjects that are too difficult to do with real people. It allows us to be more controversial. Edgier. There can be parody and innuendo and satire. Things can be sophisticated in a way that even our feature films can't be."[1]

According to Katzenberg, the series was created for "an 18- to 49-year-old. It's not about checking to make sure you don't leave the 6-, 7-, and 8-year-olds behind. This is purely an adult show."[1]

Each episode cost an estimated $2 million to $2.5 million to produce,[2] making it at the time of its release one of the most expensive half-hour television comedies ever.[2][3]

It took more than 200 animators 2 years to make the series.[1] Computer animation was produced at Imagi Animation Studios[4] in Hong Kong.[5] Father of the Pride employed a small group of seasoned directors, which included Mark Risley, Bret Haaland, Steve Hickner, John Holmquist, John Stevenson, and Mark Baldo. Felix Ip served as creative director for Imagi. For the first season, DreamWorks created 30 principal sets, 500 special props, and about 100 characters. In fact, a typical episode unfolds across all 30 principal sets and features two or three unique locations as well. The lion habitat is inspired by the real Secret Garden in Las Vegas, where the actual Siegfried and Roy lions reside. In Father of the Pride, the Secret Garden encompasses residences for the main characters and their families and public areas ranging from the community bar to a school classroom. Since Larry and his family drive the story lines for most of the episodes, their residence is the most detailed, comprising separate, contiguous sets for the living room, the kitchen, and the children's bedrooms. Meanwhile, the assets are stored in individual files in order to be loaded into separate layers and assembled modularly.[6]

Long before its broadcast, the series was nearly cancelled, following Roy Horn's near-death in October 2003; but after his condition improved, Siegfried and Roy urged NBC to continue production. Katzenberg recalled, "There was a short period of time where we all just rocked out on our heels and couldn't be particularly creative and certainly not very funny. But Siegfried kept saying, every step of the way, that this show meant so much to them. So much to Roy. Then, even more than it ever did."[1]

Opening sequenceEdit

The opening sequence starts off with a red sports car, with the Nevada license plate "MAGIC1," being driven by Siegfried and Roy past many of the attractions in Las Vegas. Cast names (John Goodman, Cheryl Hines, Orlando Jones, and Carl Reiner) are presented on the marquees of the Strip hotels that, along with the Mirage, belonged to the MGM / Mirage Group at the time, before the car swerves into the Mirage Hotel. The scene then changes to the lions' house. Larry is asleep on the couch when he is woken up by an irritated Kate, who tells him that he is late for his performance. Immediately, Larry gets up and dashes outside (past his children Sierra and Hunter), through the Watering Hole (and having a beer given to him by Snack), and towards the stage.

Larry (voiced by John Goodman) sings a rendition of Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas" as the background music throughout the title sequence.

Release and receptionEdit

The series' debut on NBC on August 31, 2004[7] attracted 12.3 million viewers, making it the most-watched series of the week on the American television.[8] However, the series was expected to do better,[9] especially considering heavy promotion during NBC's coverage of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.[10][11] Its opening ranked only the 13th of 16 fall comedies that NBC introduced since 1999.[9]

Unfortunately, the series' ratings began to decline. By November 2004, it was pulled from NBC's sweeps line-up.[12] In early December, Jeffrey Katzenberg announced that Father of the Pride was cancelled, a few months after it was initially aired; as well, Katzenberg added that he did not believe the series would be picked up for a second season.[13]

Father of the Pride received a negative response from critics, who considered it to be little more than a gimmick and a shill for other NBC and DreamWorks properties (two early episodes extensively featured Matt Lauer from The Today Show and another featured Donkey from the Shrek franchise). Also, many critics noticed that the series' humor was very similar to South Park (one episode even had a character say, "Screw you guys, I'm goin' home!").

According to Katzenberg, Siegfried and Roy's reactions were more positive: "They laughed. A lot. They kept asking us to create more contradiction. Literally, one's blond and one's dark, and every aspect of their life is as black and white as that. They are always playful with one another, always playing tricks on one another. They encouraged us to have fun with that."[1]

Home mediaEdit

Father of the Pride was released on DVD on June 7, 2005, containing the original pilot, an alternate pilot (which draws heavily on the original), an un-aired episode, and one episode that was voice-recorded and not animated (and therefore, remains at the storyboard stage).[14]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Father of the Pride won an Annie Award in 2005 for Character Design in an Animated Television Production.[15] It was also nominated for a 2005 People's Choice Award in the category Favorite New TV Comedy Series.[16]

ReferencesEdit

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