Lemurs. My initial thoughts extended to: meh. They're not especially cute, they don't lend themselves to being made into adorable iconic cartoon characters, and on the surface, they're probably the least lovable of all the primates. How wrong I was! How curiously and exceedingly wrong.
Lemur Street tells the story of two rival lemur groups: the Graveyard Gang and the Tornado Troupe. (I much prefer the Graveyard Gang - tis impossible not to have a favourite...) Both groups are led by females; Graveyarders are led by Crystal who is serene and regal; Tornados are led initially by Electra and, after she is deposed through violence, by Amazon, who is feisty and aggressive.
The episodes detail their battles and their mating habits (they have lots of them!), their new babies and as the worst drought for a decade hits Madagascar, it follows their daily hunt for food and water.
For me, there are 3 stars of the show. The first being Gizmo, and if his fate doesn't make you cry, I'm not sure anything can. Gizmo is the first son of Tornado queen Amazon, and it may be him that draws you in so deeply. Later in the series, she has another baby - Orinoko. He is the second star of the show, and he reaches dizzying new heights of cuteness. Finally, old ugly Peg-leg is the stand-out character of the entire documentary. He has only 3 legs after being attacked by a dog, but he's wily as a fox. After a forest fire, his best friend, Derek (nice but dim), goes missing and, growing increasingly anxious without his bud, Peg-leg risks leaving his troupe to go back 4km in search of him and their renuion is genuinely touching.
There are extreme highs and lows in here: we witness the deaths of 3 baby lemurs and the cameras don't shy away. Seeing a mama lemur unable to leave behind the body of her dead baby was hard. I dunno, I had to leave the room a couple of times because I couldn't bear it, but if you're made of tougher stuff, you should be ok.
On the flipside, you've not lived til you've seen ivory-coloured shifaka lemurs hopskipdancing sideways on their hind legs with arms out-stretched for balance. Equally, you'll grin from ear to ear when you see those stripey tails bouncing along the top of long grasses as the lemurs they're attached to are hidden from view - truly wonderful. And perpetually randy Flash is laugh out funny as he incessantly strokes his tail in a bid to look sexy. He manages to pick the most inopportune of moments, making him an adorable inadvertent comedy genius.
Coming home from work, I found myself looking forward to watching this. You get completely drawn in to their world and you *want* to spend time with them. I suppose the best recommendation I can give is to say I've just bought all 3 seasons of Meerkat Manor
as it's made by the same people. But I'll be watching Lemur Street again soon, too, and if you want something funny, and touching and innocent and peaceful to watch, there's nothing on earth I'd recommend more highly than this.
PS - keep your eyes open for the tortoise that goes like the clappers. Quite extraordinary!