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Father of the Pride

Father of the Pride is an American adult animated television series that began broadcasting 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 Siegifried & Roy show in Las Vegas. Despite heavy promotion, the series was unsuccessful and was cancelled after one season. Transmission and production were also delayed by the real-life on-stage injury of Roy Horn 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.

ProductionEdit

In 2002, Jeffrey Katzenberg came up with the idea for the series when he visited Siegfried & Roy's show 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 two 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.

Long before its broadcast, the series was nearly cancelled, following the near-death of Roy Horn in October 2003; but after his condition improved, both 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 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 wakes up, late for his performance, on the couch before dashing towards the stage (but not before having a beer given to him by Snack). Larry (voiced by John Goodman) sings a rendition of Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas" as the background music throughout the title sequence.

ReleaseEdit

The series' debut on NBC on August 31, 2004[6] attracted 12.3 million viewers, making it the most-watched series of the week on the American television.[7] However, the series was expected to do better,[8] especially considering heavy promotion during NBC's coverage of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.[9][10] Its opening ranked only the 13th of 16 fall comedies that NBC introduced since 1999.[8]

The series' ratings began to decline. By November 2004, it was pulled from NBC's sweeps line-up.[11] 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.[12]

Father of the Pride received a negative response from TV 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 The Today ShowTemplate:'s Matt Lauer and another featured Donkey from the Shrek franchise). Also, many TV critics noticed that the series' humor was very similar to South Park (one episode 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).[13]

ReferencesEdit

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