No, I don’t look to Disney for perfect accuracy in zoology. Of course I don’t. But it has been pointed out repeatedly that The Lion King ignores the important role that hyenas actually have in the ecoysystem of the African savannas. An ecosystem without scavengers—not that hyenas are solely scavengers, but let that go for now—is an inefficient ecosystem. While the two species are in a certain amount of competition, they also fill different ecological niches. And that’s still a better understanding of ecology than The Lion Guard.
Kion (Max Charles) is the head of the eponymous Lion Guard, a group of animals that take care of the Pride Lands. Always before, it’s been just lions. Now, it’s a lion, a hippo, a honey badger, a cheetah, and an egret. Because why not. Kion has some kind of magic roar that’s his responsibility to use wisely. They protect the Pride Lands and the Circle of Life and so forth, and they keep fighting various animals to keep things the way they’re supposed to be.
But boy, they do not get how this works. There are routinely episodes where all I can think is, “Your actions are going to throw everything out of balance.” They’re doing things that will be bad for the herds of herbivores on which they depend. Which, incidentally, is a subject that almost never gets touched on, even though all the animals can talk to one another. As I’ve mentioned before, that’s always a problem I have with this kind of show. I really can’t picture a gazelle hanging around a lion, you know? And that’s without getting into how there’s an episode with komodo dragons.
One of the things the original movie seems to’ve accidentally gotten right is that hyenas are matriarchal. Not so on this show. Or anyway, they are officially matriarchal, but the female hyenas are barely there, at least in the first season. Possibly someone pointed this out by the second season and that changed, but all I’ve seen so far is first-season episodes, which I am not a fan of enough that I didn’t wait until the second season to complain about this show.
Also, the cast on this show is insane. They couldn’t get Nathan Lane to reprise the role of Timon; it seems that Ernie Sabella was less busy and is back as Pumbaa. On the other hand, while they didn’t get Matthew Broderick as the adult Simba, they got Rob Lowe. Phil LaMarr is expected, but Christian Slater? Michael Dorn has done voicework before, but we’ve also got Common and Lou Diamond Phillips. Do all these people have young kids or grandkids? It’s super bizarre.
The animation’s actually pretty decent for a show like this, though I’m not hugely into the character design. It’s trying to copy Lion King designs a certain amount, but also it’s trying to do its own thing, and the two styles never entirely gel. At least it isn’t actively loathsome, which is not something I can say for the scripts.