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My Favorite Daktari Episode: “Terror in the Bush” from Season 2

What’s your favorite episode of Daktari?

Mine is from Season 2, called “Terror in the Bush.” This is why I was so excited when the announcement came from Warner Archives that they were releasing the complete second season on DVD (see here for more information).

daktari tv show terror in the bush marsh and paula judy the chimp composite

First of all, “Terror in the Bush” featured my favorite character front and center: Paula Tracy. In the episode, she and Marsh are out on a training run. He is determined to teach his daughter to be responsible when all she really wants is to just be like every other girl her age. He reminds her that no every girl lives in Africa. Paula has not prepared well for the trip and many vital supplies are missing. She even scolded Judy unfairly for emptying out the medical kit when in fact Marsh had done it to teach her the necessity of check and double check.

All a hint that something bad was about to happen …

4-daktari tv show terror in the bush dr. marsh tracy marshall thompsonAs Paula, Marsh and Judy started for home,  the jeep struck a log and flipped over. Everyone was knocked out but Marsh was the most seriously injured with a concussion and a badly broken leg.

What few supplies were on hand had been destroyed in the crash and Paula had to rely on her wits, strength and resourceful thinking to bring her father to safety.

As a kid and as an adult

When I was ten, I loved this episode because it made Paula a heroine. It was exciting watching her do everything she could to save her father.

8-daktari tv show terror in the bush marsh paula judy the chimp3I still love this episode, perhaps even more now, because of the wonderful messages contained therein:

  • A young woman comes of age, showing incredible guts, self-control and quick thinking.
  • A daughter risks her life to save her beloved father
  • A father cares enough for his daughter to teach her to be strong, independent and responsible.
  • A father and daughter share a close and loving relationship.

Getting the message across

wameru6These are simple but important messages and the best part is, the writers use the story to impart them rather than pontificate about them. This is Daktari’s charm to me – in its gentle and unassuming way, the show conveys wonderful themes that are beneficial to children and good reminders for adults.

Sure, Daktari’s story lines are simplistic, the show’s pacing is very slow and the characters can be two-dimensional. But the scenery is beautiful, the themes universal and timely, the graphics in the opening sequence still cool and the music, cutting edge for that time.

In comparison with other popular shows

the invaders starring Roy Thinnes the adventures of superman george reevesMy husband and I have had a hankering lately for 60s shows since he got The Invaders with Roy Thinnes for Christmas. We traded in a bunch of DVDs and bought the second season of Bewitched starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York, and The Adventures of Superman with George Reeves. We also have I Dream of Jeannie starring Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman.

For the sake of laughs

bewitched elizabeth montgomery dick york i dream of jeannie barbara eden larry hagmanBewitched is still just as funny as it was in the 60s. I must say though that it is horrifying to see Samantha continually give up her identity as a witch just because her husband demands it of her, and often he is not appreciative of the difficulty of her task or the effort she makes. I’m no militant feminist but I do believe that each person, man or woman, deserves to be accepted for who they are.

This storyline is essential to the conflict in Bewitched that creates the funny situations. And the same is true with I Dream of Jeannie – goodness, a genie in a sexy costume is a slave to Tony, her master who doesn’t even want what makes Jeannie unique! Sets back the accomplishments of the women’s movement back fifty years. 🙂

Why Daktari ages well

12-daktari tv show terror in the bush marsh and paula father and daughter judy the chimpThe only point I’m trying to make is this: shows from the 60s often don’t age well and it’s not just the clothes, cars and the ancient technology. Daktari remains timely for me because it promotes themes that never age. I will be more than happy to save these DVDs for the days when I have grandchildren to share them with.

More power to girls like Paula! And kudos to fathers like Marsh who teach their daughters to be all they can be.

Here are some screen captures from the episode showing the many ways that Paula was a heroine in saving her father:

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3 comments on “My Favorite Daktari Episode: “Terror in the Bush” from Season 2

  1. […] not fun. (Note: this was for the episode “Terror in the Bush” which I wrote about in the last post. There is a picture of her wrestling with the […]

  2. I’ve just finished watching the DVD release of the First Season DAKTARI episodes.
    My immediate favourite episodes after viewing this season were “The Hostages” and the two-part “Wall of Flames”. Interestingly, it is only when you analyse aspects of these episodes that you realise that there are some common elements that made them so successful from my perspective.

    The storylines of both episodes have the pairing of Jack and Paula at their core. I always thought that their relationship was the key part of the success of the show (evidenced by the drop-off in success when Jack was absent from the Fourth Season). Jack and Paula share a lot more screen time together than in most other episodes and the interplay, bickering and even strong friendship (maybe love?) between their characters reaches its most developed point (even to Jack giving Paula her second-ever kiss – albeit on her forehead!).

    Both episodes are written by Stephen Kandel and directed by Andrew Marton (a very effective partnership). Kandel was a prolific writer of many TV series and was at his peak in the 1960s and 1970s. Marton directed the CLARENCE film and many of the best First Season DAKTARI episodes. Their partnership on these episodes was near the end of the season’s run and played up the elements of the show that had received early favourable audience reaction.

    Finally (and I may be biased), both episodes guest starred Australian actors – Chips Rafferty in “The Hostages” and Michael Pate in “Wall of Flames”. While Rafferty made no effort to hide his Aussie accent in his episode, Pate used an Irish accent in his one. This latter practice appeared to be common throughout the DAKTARI series with actors often using British or Irish accents to give the show the exotic feel of an African setting.

    Once again, I have to comment on the quality of the colour and sharpness of the DVD video images which is amazing. While this aspect gives a freshness to viewing the show, it also allows you an opportunity to spot the ‘bloopers’ that would have been easily missed watching the show on television all those years ago, for example the sight of power poles on the horizon in scenes filmed at Africa USA!

    • I liked Wall of Flames also but agree with comments I’ve seen on the web that it could have been just one episode. I too liked the pairing of Jack and Paula because of the potential of romance (which sadly was never explored) but also because they were similar in age making for a completely different dynamic from the usual father-daughter stuff.

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