Meerkat Manor is back for a third season on DVD. You’re invited back into the South African desert with the famous Whiskers Clan. Animal Planet has themselves a relatively big hit here with Meerkat Manor. OK, so, it’s not exactly The Sopranos or The Shield, but it does have a modestly dedicated audience. Seems that folks just can’t get enough of these fur balls. They’ve set up blogs and websites dedicated to the antics of the celebrated Whiskers. If you, like them and are dying to see what these lil’ guys are up to next, wait no longer. Fast on the heels of the prequel film, The Story Begins, Meerkat Manor is here again. Of course, all of this is strictly in the interest of scientific study. Sure it is! Don’t worry, I won’t tell a soul.
The season begins with The Whiskers once again being run off of their territory. As in the recent film, The Whiskers must forage in an area that’s not quite as rich in resources as their own manor. Flower manages to rally her troops and the clan takes over the Zappa Clan territory. The Zappa Clan, run by, who else, Frank and Lola, will become the “pesky” neighbors for this new season of the Meerkats. There are plenty of triumphs (delicious millipedes and tasty scorpions) and a fair share of losses to highlight the season. The intrigue generated by the assignment of human motives to the activities of the Meerkats is pretty much exactly what you’ve become used to by now. You just know that there’s going to be some rumbles with The Zappa clan. Sean Astin narrates the season and is far more pleasant to listen to than Whoopi Goldberg was for the film. If you are looking for anything new here, you will be disappointed. Honestly, the images all run together after a while, and it doesn’t appear that we’re seeing any new behaviors out of them. The story evolves, of course, but the images are getting somewhat redundant.
Meerkat Manor is presented in its original intended 1.85:1 aspect ratio enhanced to widescreen television screens. The picture is often stunning in detail. The crew used impressive HD camera equipment, and the result is plenty of detail and sharp images. There’s not a lot of color here because the landscape and the meerkats are all pretty much a drab brown. What the film lacks in exciting colors it more than makes up for with detail. Black levels are nicely done as well. There is a decidedly documentary feel here, but it is definitely a step up from the nature programs we’re used to seeing.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is somewhat wasted here. For the most part we get Astin’s narration, which is always clear and easy to hear. There are some nice natural sounds, but they don’t really give us the same vast experience that the picture does. Almost everything happens in front of us. I’m sure it is equal or likely superior to that which fans of the show have come to expect from their broadcasts.
The menus are actually pretty clever. You get the show’s opening shots that introduce you to the players and offer a short description of their personality.
I guess I’m a little different than the average audience for Meerkat Manor. I kind of like the images of the