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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Trading One Zoo For Another

Life Is Wild

Sundays at 8 p.m. on CW

Basic story: New York veterinarian Danny Clarke (D.W. Moffett), a widower who recently remarried, trades his practice treating the pampered pets of elite New Yorkers for a life tending livestock and wildlife in South Africa. His spouse (Stephanie Niznik) agrees to the move, even though they'll be living in a lodge owned by Danny's late wife's father (David Butler). Their blended brood -- Katie (Leah Pipes, who narrates) and siblings (played by Andrew St. John, K'Sun Ray and Mary Matilyn Mouser) -- hates the idea. But when faced with living in a place where cellphone service is spottier than a local giraffe, they gradually find themselves responding to the beauty of the bush country and the creatures that call it home.

What it faces: The NFL on NBC; "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" on ABC; "The Simpsons" and "King of the Hill" on Fox, various dramas on CBS.

What you'll like: The show, inspired by a British series, boasts impressive scenery and eye-catching animals -- even if the story lines are somewhat predictable. An injured lioness and her wayward cub take the spotlight in the pilot, with a reunion that could have been cloying but instead feels real.

What you won't: Narration from a whiny teen is not an original device, and Katie's singular take on everything -- yes, isn't it always just all about you? -- could seem tiresome after a while.

Bottom line: With its fresh premise, the show could be a welcome oasis to viewers who are weary of animation, reality or even football.

-- Kathy Blumenstock

Four Gal Pals On the Case

Women's Murder Club

Fridays at 9 p.m. on ABC


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