okb12starring Steve Kanaly, Michele Scarabelli, Wayne Crawford, Fats Bookholane, Lance Scott and Sandor Smit

In 1992 a series was filmed which was groundbreaking. There are few series that can cover as many topics and still keep the underlying message to the forefront without that message dominating the storyline and overwhelming the viewer. One such series that achieves this is Okavango.

On the surface, Okavango may seem like a series out to alert people of the endangerment of animals and the environment. Although it does this well, one only has to peak under the surface to see so much more. Action, adventure, family turmoil, kidnapping, drama, mystery, terror… This series has everything.

ok306Okavango tells of a family who move from their comfy city-life to the “back to nature” life of running an animal reserve in Africa. From the very first episode the McKenzies find themselves coming face-to-face with a “neighbour” who has his own designs on the animals. It isn’t long before they discover his motives but it takes longer for the locals to accept the involvement of the McKenzie family.

Heading the cast is Steve Kanaly as J.D. Kanaly plays the nasty J.D. as a ruthless man out for his own ends but, just occasionally, J.D.’s heart peaks out from its coat of stone.

ok203acNext is Michele Scarabelli, playing Jessica McKenzie. The warmth and compassion with which Michele embues the role has to be seen to be believed. Michele is the real star of the show and she gives it her all. It is difficult not to get wrapped up in the show in each and every one of Michele’s scenes. Whether Jessica is chasing rare rhinoceroses; teaching business skills to the local women; protecting elephants; being kidnapped; protecting her daughter from dangerous tigers; Michele’s confidence and realism makes the series worth watching on its own.

Wayne Crawford plays Jack McKenzie (Jessica’s husband) with effect and through the series portrays the man from being unhappy with his predicament, to trying (and failing) to find his place until suddenly, he finds that he’s already more part of Okavango than the animals are. Crawford also created the series and directed many episodes. His enthusiasm is really something to behold. Having so much input into the series as he does, one can’t help but admire the message he’s trying to put across and the way he puts it across..

The McKenzie’s local guide and first friend at Okavango is TwoDays as played by Fats Bookholane. Bookholane’s skill and charm with his character makes him a firm favourite next to Michele.

Lance Scott plays Jack McKenzie’s son and does well with a limited character. He has fun during his sub-plot of fixing up an old aeroplane – initially against Jack’s wishes.

Sandor Smit is a joy to watch as Nealy, Jessica’s daughter, especially during the episode Kill or Be Killed when Nealy “leaves home” having thought that her birthday had been forgotten. This leads to one of the most marvellous scenes of the series when Jessica is forced to shoot an injured tiger to protect her daughter. The compassion and emotion from Michele Scarabelli really pulls at the viewers heartstrings.

Click for more information on some of the episodes:

Season 1

  1. So This Is Africa?
  2. The Grey Ghost
  3. What Price Progress?
  4. Weavers and Shakers
  5. Nothing is Black and White
  6. It All Happened Down By The River
  7. Crime and Punishment
  8. The Hungry Thief
  9. Fathers And Sons
  10. Kill Or Be Killed
  11. Which Doctor?
  12. Water Water nowhere
  13. The Angry Cheetah
  14. The Battle Of Okavango
  15. Nature’s Nature
  16. Live Forever
  17. The End Of Life As We Knew It
  18. You Can’t Go Home Again
  19. Falling In Love Again
  20. Falling In Love Canal
  21. The Leopard Incident
  22. Boy Soldiers
  23. Jack Goes To Hollywood
  24. The Acting Father
  25. Guess Who’s Coming For Xmas
  26. I’ll Be Home For Christmas

Season 2

  1. Extinct Animals
  2. Lena Comes To Okavango
  3. Kyle And Kimberly’s Plane Trip
  4. Marco
  5. Canned Hunt
  6. Jack And J.D. In The Bush
  7. Kyle’s Rites Of Manhood
  8. J.D.’s War Buddy
  9. Squatters
  10. Giraffe
  11. Kyle’s Tambu Girl
  12. TwoDays Wants A Raise
  13. The Kindness of Strangers
  14. Ben And The Bug Man
  15. Strip Mining
  16. Documentary
  17. J.D.’s Wife
  18. Jack’s Past Comes Back To Haunt
  19. Archaeology
  20. Did J.D. Murder Uncle Bill?
  21. Animal Behaviour
  22. Environmental Terrorists
  23. Bed And Breakfast
  24. Quarantine
  25. The Camping Trip
  26. So Long Okavango