The venom quickly fills the injured meerkat's system, and he is unable to keep up with the rest of the Whiskers.  Shakespeare decides to make the solo voyage home and brave the possible threat of predators along the way.  It's almost dark by the time he arrives, and it's all he can do to drag his sickly body just inside the burrow's front entrance.  Will he make it through the night?

You'll have to watch the second episode to find out, and you know you will since you're probably already hooked (I am!).  It's a great way to tease the audience and hold interest for the rest of the episodes in this 13-installment series—because at this point your emotions are involved.  The humanization of the meerkats' daily lives and relationships make them relatable to us, and it's what makes this series work for all ages. 

Now, contrast that to Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, and you'll probably agree.  Thirty years ago, one might care less what happened to the zebra trapped in quicksand or the mating rituals of the wallaby.  It was just the facts and some dry commentary from host Marlin Perkins.  There also weren't names, personalities, family lineages or storylines to draw us in.  Thankfully, Meerkat Manor kicks it up a notch in true 21st-century, reality-show style (family feuds, secret love affairs, backstabbing, near-death experiences, etc.), and you can't wait to see what will happen next to this social and precocious clan.

What I hope happens next is a more balanced portrayal of the family's chief parental unit—Flower and Zaphod.  Sure, Flower's got a lot on her plate (mating, birthing, establishing order, etc.), but I kept wondering if Zaphod was getting the short end of the stick in terms of less camera time and narration minutes.  Not only does he get bloodied and bruised in episode 2 (it premieres right after the first episode on Friday night, so stay tuned to watch) while protecting his family and defending their territory, but Zaphod also spends a great deal of time grooming and giving attention to Flower.

I would venture to guess that his role is just as important as Flower's in the family household.  Different, but equally important.  Perhaps this preliminary imbalance will work itself out in upcoming episodes, and we'll see more of Zaphod as leader, protector and master of the Meerkat Manor

CAUTIONS
:
 

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  None
  • Language/Profanity:  None
  • Sex/Nudity:  Nursing of pups is shown.  A subordinate meerkat (Tosca) shows signs of pregnancy (enlarged abdomen and teats). 
  • Violence:  Flower is shown fighting with other members of the Whiskers.  Narrator informs viewers that she could also choose to kill Tosca's pups, since Flower doesn't tolerate anyone else's pups.  In episode 2, Zaphod and the Whiskers clan are shown fighting with a rival mob.  Zaphod's face is mildly bloodied.  Depiction of puff adder snake in a stand-off scene could be frightening for smaller children.


Meerkat Manor premieres Friday night, June 9, 2006, at 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on Animal Planet.   Click here for more information.