While Judge Brett Cullum sneaks up on the hungry, rabid pride of lions, let's learn how Mutual of Omaha's term life insurance is the King of Term Life...
One of the longest running television series of all time!
Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom debuted in January of 1963, and has been in production ever since thanks to a 2000s resurrection by the Animal Planet Cable channel. In 1974 the show attracted over 35 million viewers in syndication as host Marlin Perkins and wild animal enthusiast Jim Fowler explored every facet of animal behavior. It's a show almost everyone grew up with, and after a series of single-disc themed releases we now get Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom—The Definitive 50 Episode Collection. It's hardly "definitive" when you consider there are literally hundreds of episodes, and this is only fifty. But who can complain? Once you see Marlin, Jim, and all the animals on your screen once again you forgive the misleading title.
Facts of the Case
This set includes seven flipper discs with fifty episodes mainly grouped in themes rather than any chronological episode order. The pilot, for example, is not shown until the seventh disc, and the first disc is a three-part focus on Dr. Dian Fossey and her now famous gorillas. Big cats, sharks, polar bears, rare birds, and countless others are featured in episodes culled from the show's original run hosted by Marlin Perkins in the '60s and '70s, along with some from the mid '80s run with Fowler as host and Peter Gros as reporter.
DISC ONE: THE AFRICAN WILD—SIDE A
DISC ONE: THE AFRICAN WILD—SIDE B
DISC TWO: WILD CATS—SIDE A
DISC TWO: WILD CATS—SIDE B
DISC THREE: DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS IN THE WILD—SIDE A
DISC THREE: DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS IN THE WILD—SIDE B
DISC FOUR: MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA—SIDE A
DISC FOUR: MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA—SIDE B
DISC FIVE: HUNTERS OF THE SKY—SIDE A
DISC FIVE: HUNTERS OF THE SKY—SIDE B
DISC SIX: THE AFRICAN WILD II—SIDE A
DISC SIX: NORTH AMERICA II—SIDE B
DISC SEVEN: HUNTERS OF THE SKY II—SIDE A
DISC SEVEN: AUSTRALIA'S AWESOME ANIMALS—SIDE B
The magic of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom lies in the entertaining way educational lectures are delivered. From day one Marlin and Jim knew how to mix things up with demonstrations to drive home any point they were trying to make. The show evolved, but never deviated from a simple formula that hasn't changed in decades. If you look at Steve Irwin or any show on Animal Planet, you'll see the legacy this series has left which is copied again and again. The best thing about this set is how well it holds up. Kids and adults will still be fascinated, and there's still a ton of great drama and information to make this one a "must see" collection of vintage television.
The set is housed in a beautiful zebra-design-covered cardboard slip cover which houses four slim cases to house the seven discs. Each one allows you to either select only certain episodes, or use a "play all" option for marathon sessions of Wild Kingdom. This a real bargain when you consider you get over 20 hours of some of the best animal footage ever captured, and the gentle geek lectures from Marlin. This is a collector's dream—other than a season by season treatment (which would cost a fortune to produce or collect).
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The disappointing aspect of this Wild Kingdom set is how the episodes look visually dated, and many of the scratches and flaws have not been digitally scrubbed. These haven't been touched in years, and they look the same as when they aired three or four decades ago. Also there are no bonus features at all, which seems a crime given the show's rich history.
Constantly imitated and never replaced, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom still holds up decades later. Mutual of Omaha's: Wild Kingdom—The Definitive 50-Episode Collection provides us with a great collection to keep the memories alive for generations. This is classic television on DVD at its best. The only downside is we don't get any extras, and the presentation is just uncleaned-up film elements slapped onto flipper discs. Yet the show is so important, just having it on DVD is a special treat.
Free to go on showcasing the wildest animals and the most serene hosts on television.
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