Stanford Mail

When Imagination Meets Conservation: a Young Heroine’s Adventures in Protecting Our Planet

TV SERIES REVIEW
Jane

TV-G -     

Genre: Adventure, Family
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 10 x 25m episodes
Director(s): J.J. Johnson
Writer(s): J.J. Johnson
Cast: Ava Louise Murchison, Mason Blomberg, Tamara Almeida, Dan Abramovici, Jazz Allen, Sam Marra
Where To Watch: streaming on Apple TV+ April 14, 2023


RAVING REVIEW: JANE celebrates the remarkable legacy of the eminent primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall. Known as a leading chimpanzee expert, Goodall dedicated six decades to exploring these primates' social and family dynamics in their natural habitat. Her groundbreaking research commenced with her inaugural expedition to Tanzania's Gombe Stream National Park in 1960, where she observed human-like behaviors among chimpanzees.


An enthusiastic conservation and animal welfare advocate, Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots & Shoots program. In 2002, she was honored as a UN Messenger of Peace, and as of 2022, she holds positions on the board of the Nonhuman Rights Project and as an honorary member of the World Future Council.

The series centers around the adventurous life of a young environmentalist named Jane, played by Ava Louise Murchison. At just ten years old, Jane sets off on a mission to protect endangered species with her two best friends, David, played by Mason Blomberg, and Greybeard, the chimpanzee. Inspired by Dr. Jane Goodall's famous words, "Only if we understand will we care. Only if we care will we help. Only if we help can they be saved," Jane's rich imagination leads the trio on thrilling adventures to conserve wildlife. The crutch of the series is that it is for a younger audience; while it's listed as a family series, I think it would only keep adults entertained as a form of amusement for any children they’re around. There’s nothing inherently “bad” about it; it's just one series that knows its audience.

While JANE targets a younger demographic, it carries a potent message complemented by impressive cinematography and visual effects. Although the CGI-rendered animals may not perfectly mirror their real-life counterparts, Apple TV has undoubtedly crafted a standout children's show. A lot of love was put into this series to give it the feeling they were aiming for. 

If you have concerns about potential "agendas," there is no fear here; JANE provides wholesome, family-oriented entertainment while imparting valuable lessons about the animal world and conservation. Each episode evokes the essence of the much-loved MAGIC SCHOOL BUS series, albeit in a live-action format, minus the iconic bus and Ms. Frizzle. The core values and educational elements remain intact. Along with the imagination aspect being in full effect, after all, you don’t see sharks floating down grocery store isles very often. Although not revolutionary, the episodes can spark curiosity and foster critical thinking in young viewers.

In summary, JANE is a fitting tribute to the remarkable legacy of Jane Goodall. The passion she displayed in seeking to understand and preserve the natural world is mirrored in the escapades of the young protagonist and her friends. The show communicates the importance of environmental stewardship by instilling a sense of responsibility for the environment in the next generation. Adults will appreciate this heartwarming and engaging series for its positive message, and children will love the visuals and storytelling.

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[photo courtesy of APPLE TV+]