Everything is different this year, but I learned from my parents early on to always make the most of every situation. My father was also a big fan of the cocky former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. When we children had suffered a defeat in a competition, or when things didn’t go according to plan at school, he liked to quote him with the following saying: “The art is to get up once more when you are knocked over.”
It is therefore quite clear to us as a family that we will not let the Corona crisis throw us off our tracks either. One way for us to deal with the current restrictions is to make it particularly beautiful at home. This includes game afternoons but also the shared enjoyment of TV series. Our children find it particularly funny at the moment to look at old TV treasures together, which fascinated their parents in their own childhood.
Of course, the episodes are not comparable to the quick cuts of today’s YouTube clips, but the slowness of the images obviously also has its appeal, especially when mum and dad keep screaming rapturously in between, when they rediscover a favorite of that time or relive a passage that has been hidden in memory for many years. Michael Ende once described it very aptly in his wonderful “Infinite History”. “Nothing is gone, it can be carried out again and again”.
Like “Daktari”. When my siblings and I returned home in Brazil in the early 1970s after sunny years, my father’s first purchase – alongside a chrome-flashing Ford Taunus tournament – was a TELEVISION. One of the series we were allowed to see were the stories from the Wameru Study Center for Animal Behavior. Weather-tanned actor Marshall Thompson portrayed vet Dr Marsh Tracy. For his beautiful daughter Paula, played by Cheryl Miller, we guys secretly raved. Not only because she rode so casually in the intro on a lion. My little sister was a fan of the cute chimpanzee girl “Judy”, who provided the fun in the series. Everyone knew and loved the squinting lion “Clarence” anyway.
89 episodes were filmed between 1966 and 1969, with rhinos, leopards, elephants and snakes starring alongside human actors. Tension was guaranteed, because there were always nasty poachers threatening biodiversity. There was also a lot of emotion, as Doc Tracy and his team had to rescue a lot of sick wildlife hand in hand with District Officer Headley.
The legendary Bernhard Grzimek
Since my father, as a teacher, always tried to convey the domestic educational mission – which he never really suspected in American series – to his offspring, he also saw with us “teaching rich”. “A place for animals” with the long-time director of the Frankfurt Zoo, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Grzimek, was one of them. He always brought a “posseish animal” from his zoo to the show. When Grzimek spoke, the animal roused curiously, a delicious fun on the screen. In between there were feature films, we learned a lot about the animals and there was always a message about the conservation of species and the balance of nature. Bernhard Grzimek even won an Oscar for his impressive feature film “Serengeti must not die”.
The typical narrative form of the popular TV animal lover of my childhood also inspired comedians of the time. Vico von Bülow, aka Loriot, parodied Grizmek’s “A Place for Animals” broadcast using the example of a fictional stone louse. The “possy little guy” eats his way through a pile of concrete and bricks during the post. Loriot imitated the animal filmmaker perfectly, and visually he was cut from the face of the man who saw the light of day exactly 111 years ago today. On YouTube still a delicious fun.
Meanwhile, my children enjoy “Daktari” as much as I used to and we work our way through the consequences. My mother found a book about the previous favorite series in our old toy box and sent it to us. In my car collection in the basement there is of course also a small jeep in the typical zebra look of the gamekeepers. By the way, “Daktari” was not shot at original locations in Africa, but on a wildlife farm near Los Angeles – its original name: “Africa”.