The Future is Wild is a companion piece to the Discovery Channel series of the same name. As you might expect, while it is CGI like the original documentary, it is simpler and more ‘cartoony’ than the former. I’d compare it to Jimmy Neutron for animation quality. How it differs from other animated series aimed at this demographic is in the writing. They developed the characters very well. Much better than is commonly done for a children’s cartoon, not to mention a spin off riding on the coattails of another show. They put more than an average amount of effort developing back story, relationships and such. This is a character and storyline driven work, not just a bunch of silly pratfalls or pseudo ninja battles. It is the story of CG who is piloting the TimeFlyer through the future looking for a new home for humanity. She needs help and picks up Ethan, Emily, and Lewis from the 21st century and Squibbon from 200my in the future. This is the story of their encounters and adventures 5my, 100my, and 200my in the future.
One part of the series did strike me as odd though. While individual episodes were well done the overall story arc was very disjointed. They’d encounter an animal in one show and then in the next they would not know what it was and would have to look it up. They’d use a device in one show and then a few shows later they’d explain “Oh we have a force field generator”. In one Squibbon would be hidden from CG’s father, in the next her father knew about Squibbon, then a few episodes later they’d be back to hiding him. It just seemed surprisingly random for a show that was otherwise so well written.
It struck me that maybe the disjointed feel of the show was a programming accident. I wondered if perhaps, the episodes were not broadcast in the order intended by the writers. I had a week to kill so I watched the whole series, making notes of what they knew, what they looked up, what they used and such. Then I re-sorted the episodes so these events made sense. After doing this I discovered that the show HAD been written with an overarching story line but for some reason when they came to air it, they pulled the episodes out at random. Once you have the program in the right sequence it makes a lot more sense. There are several threads that only become apparent when seen in the right order. So here is The Future is Wild as it should be watched. I should add though that this might not be exactly right. A couple of the episodes could have gone in more than one spot. In those cases I just made a judgement call. Even if not perfect though, it’s a lot closer than the original.
Note the original episode number. With the exception of The Queen of the Squibbons, they didn’t run any of them in order. Even then while Queen of the Squibbons is clearly the finale, they followed it with Snowstalker in a Strange Land. A good episode, but one that makes nearly no sense as the last episode.
With the episodes in the revised order:
CG grows and becomes less stiff and robotic over the span of the series. She even develops a sense of humour and plays the occasional joke on the others.
The budding relationships between Emily/Ethan and CG/Lewis grow over time.
They decide to move humanity to the Antarctic Forest at the very end. In the broadcast sequence their are several episodes where they’re still saying “IF humanity is going to move here” when they are elsewhere, but have already announced that humanity is going to the Antarctic Forest.
The trees they tested at 200my and 100my are both before the decision point. This was the case in the broadcast version but this makes it more clear that the trees were part of a series of tests at all sites and happened before they decided to move humanity to 100my Antarctic Forest
Reorganizing the episodes like this makes the series much more logical. As a story arc it just makes a lot more sense.
One thing I keep wondering about though, what happens when the mission is over? Sure they can return to the 21st century but will they want to? After all they’ve seen, regular High School will be pretty tame. Would it even be good for the timeline for them, especially Lewis, to return to the 21st century? With the knowledge of what they’ve seen and learned, they could really screw up the future. I don’t think the TimeFlyer was invented in the 21st century. For that matter, they mention in the show that they’ve been travelling for months. Let’s assume they are gone a year. They will obviously have grown a lot, both emotionally and physically. How will they fit in with their peers any more? Won’t their parents wonder what happened in the half hour they were gone that morning? CG’s father was right. Reintegrating into their own time would be hard. But then I don’t know if they could live among future humanity either. We’ve seen that the people of the future think of them as “primitives”. Imagine someone from 12,000 years ago were dropped into today. Sure they could learn our language, and they could function in our world, but there’d be problems. A million little customs, habits, subtle physical attributes, that would make fitting in very hard. Ethan, Emily, and Lewis would face all the same problems if they stayed with humanity 100my in the future. Either returning home or staying in the future would be difficult.
And what will become of Squibbon?
I see room for Fan Fiction here.