Stream or Skip?
Bradley Trevor Grieve is a bestselling writer and presenter who caught people’s eye in the early 2000s; he seems like a real character so turning him into a cartoon isn’t as strange as it seems. In the new Netflix series Adventure beast, BTG basically plays an animated version of himself, and the fact that he doesn’t take himself seriously at all is a plus.
Opening shot: An image of the earth with Ethiopia highlighted. Then we see the heads of the ostriches. One graphic says “Ethiopian foothills”.
The essentials: Veteran explorer Bradley Trevor Greive (himself) or BTG does a “parasite count” where he has a list of wildlife that he needs stool samples from; Its aim is to study the parasites that live in the feces of the various species. Disguised as an ostrich – who has a symbiotic relationship with the zebra – he’s trying to investigate one of those zebras when he is interrupted by the screams of his assistant Dietrich (Josh Zuckerman).
He is surrounded by bees, but is terrified of the “flying hypodermic needles”. He’s terrified of most of nature, which is why he thinks he survived as a field assistant for BTG for a decade when every previous assistant died quick and horrific deaths (and their names all seem to rhyme). BTG’s niece Bonnie (Danice Cabanela) is on her first adventure with her uncle and she wants him to see that she is now an adult who can take on the chores and make good decisions in the wilderness.
She packs too much, including a tranquilizer gun when we see a flashback to Cambodia 30 years ago, and a young BTG who, as one of Australia’s best paratroopers, cares about tigers instead of people. He has dedicated his life to animals in the wild and believes that when he needs a gun to get out of a situation, he is doing something wrong. This is the first rule when working for Grieve Expeditions – along with “Never try to save BTG”.
We also learn how Dietrich ended up being BTG’s field assistant and some of the adventures Bonnie has had over the years that she believed proved to her uncle that she could handle things on her own. But if the wrestling with alligators doesn’t convince him, it won’t work. That is, of course, until he is badly injured by lions, and while he is soaking the bites in the river, he asks Bonnie to get the last sample he needs from a “magnificent” mountain ayala.
What shows will it remind you of? It’s actually hard to get stuck Adventure beast to any show. It feels like a human Bluish coupled with episodes of Wild Kratts. But it’s not for kids either, so it’s more Wild kingdom regarding its content.
Our opinion: From plucking wild animals’ anuses to the various animal disguises he appears to have on hand, it’s pretty obvious that Grieve doesn’t take himself seriously at all, resulting in some pretty funny gags in every episode.
It could be eye gag, like BTG, sticking a syringe in his temple to keep it safe while he talks to his commanding officer, or barrel gag like all the ways his field assistants end up dead by rhyming names. He also appears to be able to survive animal attacks that would kill most humans. Those quick jokes mix with the more character-centric humor like the fact that he has an assistant who hates the outdoors and a niece who is always trying to prove herself.
Along the way, Grieve, headwriter Brian Frange, and the writing team gleaned into a series of interesting facts about wild animals that even the most nature-loving person may not know. Did you know that ostrich eyes are as big as elephant eyes? We also learn about a number of mutual animal relationships that we may not have known about in the past.
Adventure beast packs all of this into 15-minute episodes that neither hit you over the head with information nor shoot from one gag to the next. It manages to get all of that information, make you laugh, and even get to know BTG and its crew. That’s a pretty good use of 15 minutes.
Gender and skin: None unless you count the probing for feces.
Farewell shot: We switch to a live action version of BTG (Grieve) and Bonnie (Cabanela) in his office; They joke how different animals represent the different cliques you might find in high school.
Sleeping star: Let’s give this to Grieve herself; he’s not a voice actor, but he seems well-suited for cartoon comedy work.
Most pilot-y-line: None that we could find.
Our appeal: STREAM IT. Adventure beast is a fun and informative animated series that uses the inherent stupidity and knowledge of its star to create a character unique to adult animation.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting, and tech, but he’s not kidding himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writings are in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.
current Adventure beast On Netflix