Sneak Peek: Animal Planet's New Series 'Dark Days in Monkey City'
02/24/2009 AT 08:00 AM EST
Deep within the jungles of Sri Lanka live the toque macaque (pronounced tok- makek) monkey tribes - and the stars of Animal Planet's new 13 part epic series Dark Days in Monkey City. This series, which premieres on Feb. 24 and is narrated by John Rhys-Davis (Lord of the Rings), follows The Temple Troop and The Black Claws as they fight for food, love, and control of Monkey City. "It's so dramatic," said Rhys-Davies. "There's betrayal and treason and backstabbing and banishment and love and redemption. We just had to sit back and watch what the monkeys were doing to each other and weave them into our stories."
The series, shot over 15 weeks, combines the footage of the monkeys in their natural habitat with 3-D green screen technology, giving it a look and feel of a graphic novel. "It was so unique visually," said Erin Wanner, executive producer. "It was just stunning. It has these 3-D backgrounds and borrowed visual elements and cues from the world of graphic novels. We just started thinking, what an opportunity to take Animal Planet into a whole new world." The shoots were broken into 5 weeks each, with the second two focusing on the monkeys and how they live in their world. "By then we knew the monkeys who were going to be our stars," said Ian McGee, executive producer from Natural History New Zealand. "So we had to follow them and find out what they did. We realized that in order to really sell the epic nature of these storylines, we needed to get as many face close ups as we possibly could. They are just so expressive!"
Some of the stars of the show include Lear, King of the Temple Troop, Pandora, Queen of the Black Claws, and Portia, the pregnant monkey at the bottom of the food chain fighting for a better life. "They're wonderful characters," said Rhys-Davies. "It really is like a great soap opera with its ups and downs. It's murders. It's intrigues. It's devious. It's sex! I mean, the behavior of some of these young ladies is just a disgrace. They put it out there just in order to get a bit of extra grooming and a chance to make it up the social ladder."
These storylines are very true to life, and very relatable to the viewing audience. "Unfortunately, the monkeys never read the script," said McGee. "So they indeed wrote the stories for us."
Dark Days in Monkey City premieres February 24th at 10 pm ET with two back- to back episodes on Animal Planet. Watch the preview above!