Watership Down (TV Series)

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Watership Down (TV Series)
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One example of not only staying faithful to its source media, but toning down violence for children.
Genre: Fantasy
Children's television
Running Time: 23 minutes
Country: Canada
United Kingdom
Release Date: 28 September, 1999 - 4 December 2001
Network(s): YTV (Canada)
CITV (UK)
Created by: Richard Adams (book)
Mary Crawford
Alan Templeton
Troy Sullivan
Distributed by: Decode Entertainment
Nepenthe Productions
Alltime Entertainment
Starring: Rob Rackstraw
Stephen Mangan
David Holt
Andrew Falvey
Sue Elliot Nichols
Lee Ross
Richard Briars
Ian Shaw
Rik Mayall
Elliot Henderson-Boyle
Stephen Fry
Kiefer Sutherland
Stephen Gately
Kate Ashfield
Tim McInnerny
Dawn French
Stephanie Morgenstern
Anthony Barclay
John Hurt
Matt Wilkinson
Phill Jupitus
Jane Horrocks
Tom Eastwood
Jo Rodriguez
Robert Harper
Janet Dale
Alice and Sean Welsh
Anthony Jackson
Maria Darling
Paul Panting
Penny Freeman
Nigel Pegram
Seasons: 3
Episodes: 36


Note: To anyone who finds this page, this message is to let you know this article isn't to be confused with the 1978 theatrical film of the same name.

Watership Down is a Canadian-British animated fantasy children's television series, adapted from the 1972 novel of the same name by Richard Adams. It was a co-production of Alltime Entertainment of the United Kingdom and Decode Entertainment of Canada, and produced by Martin Rosen, the director of the 1978 feature film adaptation. It was produced with the participation of the Canadian Television Fund, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit and the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit from the Government of Ontario.

Watership Down aired for 39 episodes and three seasons from 1999 to 2001, on both YTV in Canada and CITV in the UK, though the latter did not broadcast the third series. The series starred several well-known British actors, including Stephen Fry, Rik Mayall, Phill Jupitus, Jane Horrocks, Dawn French, John Hurt, and Richard Briers, among others. Hurt and Briers also starred in the film. Stephen Gately sang a new arrangement of Art Garfunkel's "Bright Eyes", which was included in the 1978 film, while Mike Batt (who wrote "Bright Eyes") and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra contributed a completely new score. In 2003, composer Mike Batt was nominated for a Gemini Award for Best Original Music Score for a Dramatic Series for his work on the show.

Summary

Following the basic plot of the novel, Watership Down follows the lives of a group of rabbits as they leave their endangered warren in search of a safe new home. They travel across the English countryside, braving perilous danger, until they find a hill called Watership Down, where they begin a new warren. However, they are endangered by another warren, Efrafa, which is led by the authoritarian General Woundwort, and they are soon forced to defend their home and lives.

Although the series began with elements taken from the original novel, later episodes of the first series, as well as most of the second and third were almost entirely new content, with many episodes focusing solely on new characters and situations.

In addition, the third series featured a new opening sequence and somewhat altered style of animation, along with many of the original voice actors leaving, only leaving a handful of the original cast to remain. The programme became noticeably darker in tone, adding elements of mysticism and magic, and focusing on an evil new warren called Darkhaven.

Although the series was praised by younger audiences at the time of the series' air, fans of both the novel and the movie were more mixed about the series due to drastic changes from the novel (like Blackberry changed from a buck to a doe) and its more child-friendly tone as compared to the violence of the movie.

Why It Rocks

  1. This show, which is based off of Richard Adam's novel, is a bigger improvement to the 1978 film since the violence is toned down for younger audiences.
  2. This show stays faithful to its source material since the episodes are based off of the events of the original novel.
    • It also stays faithful to the source material because most of the voice actors are British, and the show is based off of a novel made in the United Kingdom.
  3. Memorable, likeable, and nice characters such as Hazel, Fiver, Blackberry, Bigwig, Dandelion, Hawkbit, Keehar, and Hannah.
    • Speaking of Keehar, he gets a fair amount of focus and screentime in most episodes. But sadly, he made only a few appearances in the third and last season.
  4. The design and animation for the first and second series is pretty decent.
  5. Intimidating and decent villains such as Woundwart and Vervain (though the second aforememtioned villain is unlikeable).
  6. The idea of making episodes where Campion takes on the Watership Down rabbits' side is creative and thoughtful.
  7. For a reasonable and understadable cause, El-Ahrairah's name is shortened down to El-Ahrah for this version because the directors and producers thought it would be difficult for children to pronounce his original name.
  8. Although appearing in a few episodes, the El-Ahraiarah/El-Ahrah stories are interesting. In fact, Frith's voice is very strong, mighty, powerful, and suitable for a divine spirit whom the rabbits believe in.
  9. Although the tone for the third series was set in a dark tone, it wasn't as menacing as the film, and it was still catching.
    • In fact, the redesigns of the backgrounds and characters for the third season was okay.
  10. The voice acting is passable and decent for this version.

Bad Qualities

  1. The show only lasted for three seasons.
  2. Although decent and not as gruesome as the film, the third and final season was set to a darker tone. And because of this, Germany and Grece were the only two European countries to broadcast the third season, meaning it wasn't shown in the UK but probably for YTV in Canada. It would also mean that British audiences would think Campion died since the season 2 finale had a scene where it seemed Campion was crushed to death by boulders and the others thought Campion was dead, but while Canadian audiences would know what really happened to Campion since it revieled Campion survived throughout the third and final season, especially when Pipkin and the WD rabbits found out later on.
  3. Vervain is considered the most unlikeable and worst character of the series since he is portrayed as a sly, sneaky, cowardly, snooty, and cruel rabbit of the Efrafan rabbit tribe. His hatred against Campion went too far from deeming him as a traitor.
  4. The Black Rabbit of Inle's appearance in the third season would seem frightening and creepy for children.
  5. Despite the show being based off of it's source material, some of the episodes has some of the story's elements put out of order. One example is the story where the Watership Down rabbits face against the tribe of Efrafa happened before they met the rabbits of Nuthanger Farm (most iconically Clover) while in the original story, they met the Nuthanger rabbits before the conflict against Efrafa begun.

Trivia

  1. Since the events of the third season, Woundwort lost the battle for Efrafa in the season 3 premiere, but after reuniting with Vervain later on, he tried to take over Redstone Warren and later became in charge of Darkhaven.

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