Life Is Wild
a teenage girl must adjust when she, her dad, step-mum and siblings move to South Africa
Type of Pilot: Family Drama
Similar Shows: Wild At Heart, Daktari, Skippy.
Strengths: A truly charming lead actress, a beautiful location.
Weaknesses: There are no weaknesses. It is what it is. A family-friendly drama, shot on location in South Africa, with good actors and an interesting story.
Impressive Characters: Katie Clarke is the teenage girl at the centre of this story. She is upbeat and pleasant, successfully hiding the fact that she is quite sad and lonely. Instead of being a cliché character (grumpy and rebellious about the move to South Africa, not really giving the place a chance until 'won over' by some 'lesson' learned in the pilot), she is completely open to the idea of the move, and only makes minor comments about the discomfort it entails. She is chirpy. However, it is clear from the writing and the performance, that she is a much deeper person than her actions would suggest. The bottom line, as far as we are concerned, is that she is a likable central character and the viewer is enchanted by her, and happy to spend time with her on this journey.
Impressive Actors: Leah Pipes blew me away as the lead character, Katie. The camera loves her and she's a natural star. I'm a long-time fan of D.W. Moffett, and he's great here as Katie's dad. He spent the early part of Summer 2007 as the dad of another blended family (over on Hidden Palms) but the role here is a much better one for him. The third cast member to really impress me was Andrew St. John as Katie's "bad-boy" step-brother. He's got a history of trouble behind him, and for fear of him getting into worse trouble ahead the family has taken the opportunity of this big move to South Africa. St. John is likable and believable in the role. Atandwa Kani plays a local boy and potential love-interest for Katie. David Butler plays her grand-father.
Less-Than-Impressive Characters: The mother and two smaller kids get very little to do in the pilot. So they are kinda forgettable. Stephanie Niznik (the mum) was a regular on Everwood.
Less-Than-Impressive Actors: Calvin Goldspink. Very flat and un-believable as a local bad-boy that the clan run into. His role seems to be (a) potential love-interest for Katie, and (b) someone to get her step-brother into trouble in future episodes. But the kid needs to learn to act!
Continuity: Probably fairly weak. I imagine each episode will be a self-contained 'crisis' of some sort.
Three Things I Really Like About This Pilot:
One Thing I Really Don't Like About This Pilot:
TV is mad, isn't it? I would never have suspected that I'd be listing this show as one of the best pilots of the season. But I am.