Guest post by Ken Lynch (author of our Episode Guides)
The recent (June 2013) announcement that Henry Cavill is going from “Man of Steel” to a theatrical movie reboot of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” has made me think about the possibilities for rebooting our favourite 1960s TV series “Daktari”.
Why not a reboot?
While “Daktari” didn’t have the onscreen longevity of “U.N.C.L.E.”, it certainly had a relatively good run of four seasons. I have also read several entries on the internet asking why the show had never been remade over the years.
Of course, I don’t think that “Daktari” has the pulling power to justify a big screen return but it could generate enough interest to consider a Made-for-TV remake (and potential series return?).
Original cast members that are still living
The disadvantage that “Daktari” has is that only one of the original stars of the TV series (70 year old Cheryl Miller) is still alive – if you don’t count late entry to the TV series 52 year old Erin Moran. However, as recent postings on this website have revealed, Cheryl Miller is still alive and well in Arizona and I am sure the right offer might coax her out of retirement for a return to the screen (even if it was a cameo appearance).
Where to film
The other factor against any “Daktari” reboot is the absence of the original film location Africa U.S.A. However, I’m sure there are similar locations still available in the Soledad Canyon area that could substitute (maybe the Shambala Preserve?).
But enough of the negatives, let’s look at the positive possibilities for the return of “Daktari”!
Past or present?
Any reboot could obviously pick up the “Daktari” storyline years down the track and feature the descendents of the Tracy family continuing their adventures on the Wameru Reserve. However, I think the better possibility might be to explore how Wameru was first established.
There were passing references to this background in the TV series (with a reference to Marsh Tracy’s departed wife in the First Season and several mentions of Tracy gaining Government permission to run the Wameru Reserve) and even in some of the paperback books.
Exploring Daktari’s beginnings
But wouldn’t it be interesting to explore how Tracy’s love of animals and the African bush turned into his dream of creating Wameru?
This scenario would get over the problem of the absence of the original stars of the TV show and allow new actors to take on the key roles. The storyline would have to obviously pre-date the events in “Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion” and ideally move through to the very early days of the Reserve after Jack Dane and Mike Makula had joined the team.
Motivation for Wameru
There would be plenty of opportunities to go into Tracy’s early days in Africa, the reason why he chose to start Wameru, the hardships in creating the Wameru compound alongside his wife and young daughter, the process of recruiting Jack and Mike, his first meeting with Hedley, etc.
If the TV movie was successful, this approach would leave the way open for lots more adventures on the small screen should “Daktari” be picked up as a TV series again.
Who would portray the characters?
The big question would be to consider which of today’s actors and actresses are best suited for the key roles of Marsh, Paula, Jack, Mike and Hedley (not forgetting animal ‘stars’ to portray Judy and Clarence, of course). I have my own thoughts, but this late-night musing could perhaps be the basis of further discussion and input on this website?
Bring back Cheryl Miller
Any reboot wouldn’t be the same if Cheryl Miller did not have some involvement of course. There are several ways in which this could be done (even if it was behind the scenes advising on the script) but my preference would be an onscreen appearance.
In my ‘back to the beginning’ scenario, Cheryl couldn’t really play Paula (or even her mother). However, why not as Paula’s grandmother who could join the Tracy family in their quest to establish Wameru?
There is a precedent for this approach with the successful UK TV series “Wild at Heart”, a similarly themed vet-goes-to-Africa show (remade less successfully for the US as “Life is Wild”). Veteran actress Hayley Mills played the matriarchal figure of the Trevanion family who made semi-regular appearances on the show. Cheryl Miller certainly looks well enough (and just as beautiful as she was onscreen all those years ago) to be able to put in similar appearances on any “Daktari” TV movie or subsequent series!
Time for a reboot?
The possibilities are endless and I’m sure many of this website’s readers have their own views. I’d just like to ‘sow the seed’ for further discussion and perhaps start a groundswell of support for resurrecting one of the most popular animal adventure TV series of all time.
What do you think? Focus on the past or concentrate on the future? What actors/actresses would you choose for a reboot?
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