"Cute 'n cuddly, boys, cute 'n cuddly."
October 9, 2011 11:07 PM   Subscribe

The Penguins of Madagascar is a funny, fast-paced, and family-friendly cartoon series that you may not be watching... yet.

Full of blink-and-you'll-miss-it jokes and sly grown-up humor references, but with plenty of charm and kid appeal, this spinoff of the Madagascar movies airs on Nickelodeon. It features some of the best characters from the films, the four commando penguins (Skipper, Kowalski, Private, and Rico), who are now living in Central Park Zoo, having adventures sometimes alongside and sometimes against the three lemurs (King Julien, Maurice, and Mort).

Regular voices include Andy Richter as Mort the mouse lemur and Nicole Sullivan (MADtv) as Marlene the otter, but you may recognize some famous guest voices: Wayne Knight (Newman on Seinfeld) as Max the stray cat, Cedric Yarbrough (Reno911!) as Officer X, and Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, among other things!) as Dr. Blowhole.

So far there's over 100 episodes (length: ~11 min each), four half-hour specials, and one hour-long special in two seasons of airtime.

If you don't know where to begin, you might enjoy:
*Paternal Egg-Stinct, an early episode where the penguins nurture a lost duck egg
*Misfortune Cookie, where the penguins and the chimpanzees employ a Speak-and-Spell to order takeout
*Roger Dodger, which begins with a riff on Monty Python's "Spanish Inquisition"
*What Goes Around, where the penguin team sets out to rescue a lost doll for a little girl; features Officer X
*Mr. Tux, where an armadillo from Private’s past returns and demands that they play a game of mini-golf
*Hello, Dollface, where Private is revealed to be a "brony", of sorts; he is a fan of the "Lunacorns", which appear to be a cross between the Care Bears and My Little Pony

Season 1
#1: Gone In A Flash
#2: Launchtime
#3: Haunted Habitat
#4: Operation: Plush & Cover
#5: Happy King Julien Day!
#6: Paternal Egg-Stinct
#7: Assault and Batteries
#8: Penguiner Takes All
#9: Two Feet High And Rising
#10: Tangled In The Web
#11: Crown Fools
#12: The Hidden
#13: Kingdom Come
#14: Little Zoo Coupe
#15: All Choked Up
#16: Popcorn Panic
#17: Go Fish
#18: Miracle On Ice
#19: Needle Point
#20: Eclipsed
#21: Mort Unbound
#22: Roomies
#23: Misfortune Cookie
#24: Lemur See, Lemur Do
#25: Roger Dodger
#26: Skorca!
#27: Otter Gone Wild
#28: Cat's Cradle
#29: Monkey Love
#30: Tagged
#31: What Goes Around
#32: Mask Of The Raccoon
#33: Out Of The Groove
#34: Jungle Law
#35: I Was A Penguin Zombie
#36: Sting Operation
#37: All King No Kingdom
#38: Untouchable
#39: Over Phil
#40: Miss Understanding
#41: An Elephant Never Forgets
#42: Otter Things Have Happened
#43: Zoo Tube
#44: Snakehead!
#45: Jiggles
#46: The Falcon And The Snow Job
#47: The Penguin Stays In The Picture
#48: Dr. Blowhole's Revenge (half-hour special)

Season 2
#1: The Red Squirrel
#2: It's About Time
#3: Gator Watch
#4: In The Line Of Doody
#5: Can't Touch This
#6: Hard Boiled Eggy
#7: The Lost Treasure Of The Golden Squirrel (half-hour special)
#8: Fit To Print
#9: Operation: Cooties
#10: Mr. Tux
#11: Concrete Jungle Survival
#12: Stop Bugging Me
#13: Field Tripped
#14: Badger Pride
#15: Kaboom and Kabust
#16: The Helmet
#17: Night And Dazed
#18: The Big Squeeze
#19: Wishful Thinking
#20: April Fools
#21: Hello, Dollface
#22: Huffin And Puffin
#23: Invention Intervention
#24: Cradle And All
#25: Driven To The Brink
#26: Friend-In-A-Box
#27: Work Order
#28: Hot Ice
#29: Command Crisis
#30: Truth Ache
#31: The All Nighter Before Christmas (half-hour special)
#32: Whispers And Coups
#33: Brush With Danger!
#34: Love Hurts
#35: The Officer X Factor
#36: Brain Drain
#37: Right Hand Man
#38: Danger Wears A Cape
#39: Operation: Break-speare
#40: Rat Fink
#41: Kanga Management
#42: King Julien For A Day
#43: Maurice At Peace
#44: Cute-astrophe
#45: Operation: Neighbor Swap
#46: All Tied Up With A Boa
#47: Rock-a-Bye Birdie
#48: Herring Impaired
#49: A Visit From Uncle Nigel
#50: The Hoboken Surprise (half-hour special)
#51: The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole (hour-long special)
#52: Pets Peeved
#53: Byte-Sized
#54: Operation: Good Deed
#55: When The Chips Are Down

#1: Alienated
#2: The Otter Woman

and finally, their first stand-alone short back in 2005, The Madagascar Penguins in: A Christmas Caper.
posted by flex (34 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
What will the penguin equivalent to Bronies be called?

and I just watched Adventure Time. Is it meant to be a kid's show?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:19 PM on October 9, 2011

I liked the part where they let you sit through the ad before telling you you can't watch the video because of your location.
posted by pompomtom at 11:29 PM on October 9, 2011 [18 favorites]

The Christmas one is one of the funniest things I've seen in a while. Thanks a lot for all this.
posted by cthuljew at 11:39 PM on October 9, 2011

OK, but if I see that goddamn Dreamworks Face I am done.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:56 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

What I don't like, having watched this, is how dreadful the animation and rendering is compared to the Madagascar movie. I'm aware the budget for an episode of a cartoon is going to be substantially less than for a major blockbuster movie - but it just makes the whole thing seem...I dunno...like a cheap knock-off.
posted by Jimbob at 12:01 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

but it just makes the whole thing seem...I dunno...like a cheap knock-off.

Or an ad for cheap auto insurance. Or maybe a pawn shop.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:05 AM on October 10, 2011

In fairness, this is enough fun that I have tolerated several instances of that face. If I saw it on TV, I would probably have flipped past it, but it's decently written and sometimes pretty funny.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:17 AM on October 10, 2011

anyone remember the Viva Pinata! cartoon? that was pretty fun
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:19 AM on October 10, 2011

I think I caught it (Penguins) some mornings on Channel 10 here in Oz. Doesn't seem to have left much of an impression one way or another.
posted by vidur at 1:18 AM on October 10, 2011

Been watching these with my then-12-year-old, now-13-year-old. I think he likes the mix of cuteness, weirdness, and intermittent violence.
posted by doctornemo at 5:12 AM on October 10, 2011

My guy started recording these and at first I mocked him when they showed up on the TiVo. And now it's pretty much can't miss for me too.

Speaking of MadTV (Nicole Sullivan), the new MadTV for kids (I think it's on Nickelodeon as well) is often amusing too. What's wonderful about it is that it really captures the spirit of the magazine -- down to the last blech.

But I may just like it because I don't think there can be enough jokes made about Kristen Stewart's miserable looking face.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:39 AM on October 10, 2011

Oh my God, you're right! I'm not watching it! Damn, that is spooky.
posted by Naberius at 6:23 AM on October 10, 2011

I used to watch this. It was a tolerable kid show but then I realized it really doesn't teach a 2 year old anything so we moved on.
posted by stormpooper at 7:46 AM on October 10, 2011

I'm not in the US, and all the videos played fine for me (I tested them in two different browsers); they're from a bunch of different sources and none are from anything with obvious blocking (like Hulu). I apologize - had I known they were country-limited, I wouldn't have used those links - and if you let me know which ones aren't working for you, I'm happy to try to find other sources for those episodes. I am sure there's no way all of the sites I linked are country-limited, so if you are interested, try some of the other episodes.

I have to say some of these reactions are making me reconsider whether investing my limited time into making a post for MeFi is worthwhile. I post because I love to share stuff with people; I certainly don't expect everyone to like what I like, but the dismissive comments are discouraging.
posted by flex at 7:47 AM on October 10, 2011

Sorry, flex, but ... I find the cartoon series passably entertaining, at best.

Maybe my meh reaction is because The Madagascar Penguins in: A Christmas Caper was one of the funniest cartoons I've ever seen, but the series just seems like a faded copy.

If spending this much time on a post isn't doing it for you, stop doing it. Mefites love to debate and critique. You might as well accept that; complaining about it won't change that.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:07 AM on October 10, 2011

Flex, don't worry about it. I am super excited to watch all of these episodes because I really enjoy The Penguins of Madagascar for its silliness but I forget to check the cartoon channels. So thanks!
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:13 AM on October 10, 2011

flex, I'm glad you posted it. I wouldn't have known about it otherwise, and that's what I like about Metafilter.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:21 AM on October 10, 2011

The penguins were pretty much the best part of the Madagascar movies, (King Julian excepted), but the show lacks a lot of the awesome. Still, it's not terrible.
posted by Windopaene at 8:23 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Flex, "investing my limited time" is the operational phrase for a lot of people, but not in terms of writing posts but reading them. While MeFi introduces us to new things (thanks to people like you!), the comments often give some context that helps decide how much precious time to spend on a post. While it would be nice to let every post blossom in it's own time, comments allow us to follow the pack and prune the amount of stuff we watch. Like with your post, watching just one show would take 11 minutes, but scanning the comments takes less than five. It's harsh but ultimately very useful as it helps set a high standard of acceptance, which is one of the things people seem to love about MeFi. I wouldn't take it personally.

Another use for comments is to offer options (aka derail), which I have just done and am going to do again: if you like this show, you may like and not know about the new Looney Tunes show. It has a lot of the old characters but redone in a new way. It also introduces the funny friend of Bugs Bunny --Lola, voiced by Kristen Wiig. It's no Animaniacs, but it's good.

PS Flex, I think it's a good post, for what it is worth.
posted by acheekymonkey at 8:37 AM on October 10, 2011

MetaFilter: a mix of cuteness, weirdness, and intermittent violence.
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:44 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a 10-year-old. I have seen this cartoon WAAAAAAY too many times to find it enjoyable anymore. At least Nickelodeon doesn't run it forty times a day like Spongebob...yet...
posted by briank at 9:19 AM on October 10, 2011

The penguins are by far the best part of the whole Madagascar franchise. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm 43 years old and I ♥ The Penguins of Madagascar. Snakehead! is one of my favorite episodes.
posted by MikeMc at 9:26 AM on October 10, 2011

I'm 45 y/o, my daughter is a tri-Sigma off at college and my son is a freshman in high school. We can recite the lines to most of the episodes during dinners or when tactically manuvering through a parade or planning some nefarious schemes against other family members. Really, if you can't see the humor in a little cartoon, you probably don't have that much worth laughing about in your life. Lighten up...FRANCIS. Chances are you didn't like the movie STRIPES either.
posted by winks007 at 10:44 AM on October 10, 2011

Flex, this is a beautifully-crafted post. It's absolutely marvelous, and don't let negative reactions to the show keep you from posting any more, please! Everyone's tastes are different.

For instance, when my kids liked a show, I didn't nix it if it wasn't educational, because I think kids should have fun, which puts me, I guess, at odds with stormpooper, though I bet we are both great parents with obviously gifted children. ; ) [NOT a creepy one-eyebrow-raised Dreamworks face!]

I appreciate the time and effort that went in to this post, and I hope you make more.

I also loved the penguins in the movie because they are so obviously delusional and yet their lives are exciting and maybe even more fulfilling because of it. Very young kids always think the adult world is exciting and they are missing out, so I can see the appeal for them. And cynical, jaded adults can at least appreciate the irony, and perhaps choose to make up their own games to play to make the real world more fun (when we go on vacation, for instance, we assume fake accents and make up different histories for ourselves. I remember once my brother-in-law decided to be "Festus Hidalgo.")

King Julien is awesome, too.

My favorite animated characters (in addition to King Julien and the penguins):
Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon, who is obviously based on every cat I've ever owned.
Scrat (eternal optimist with that acorn), Diego (He's a big mean kitty and I am a crazy cat lady) and Buck (another delusional one, must be a theme with me) from Ice Age.
posted by misha at 10:45 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

The penguins are popular in our household. The animation is pretty workmanlike (not that I am any sort of authority on animation) but the writing is great. Also I am to be particularly liking the King Julien part where he is in it.
posted by gamera at 11:09 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Flex, I'm grateful for the post.

My daughter was, if memory serves, around four years old when this show started airing. We hadn't taken her to see either of the two "Madagascar" movies, because we are Pixar brand loyalists, and fiercely proud oov eet! However, she took an interest (thanks, advertising industry!), and since we make of point of screening things ourselves before letting her watch them, I ended up watching a few of these, to determine if they were ok.

I distinctly remember being really fucking angry about this cartoon. And not for any terribly coherent reason...I didn't find anything in it morally objectionable or offensive, and couldn't really come up with a reason to stop her from watching the show that I could make myself believe in. What I did do, however, was to complain to my wife. A lot. We'd be sitting in front of the TV, watching these penguins behave like a bunch of commandos from some old British war movie, probably a classic that I haven't seen or something, I dunno, and I wouldn't be finding it funny. And I'd say,"Who the HELL is this for? What kid is going to get that joke? And conversely, what adult can't see this for the written-by-committee tripe that it is?" And she'd nod while reading her book, but wouldn't say anything, because she's a patient person with well-ordered priorities.

Anyway, after a while, after my daughter had been spending her half an hour daily allowance of TV time on the show for a few weeks, something clicked, and I started to find it funny. I don't know why, or what changed. I just got over being angry and started laughing. I'm still not sure if I demonstrated increasing or decreasing maturity by doing so. And then eventually my daughter lost interest, and later on after that, we turned off our sattelite TV subscription (replacing it with a Roku set top box). And then today I learned from this post that the show kept going, and I suddenly felt nostalgia for "Penguins of Madagascar". Goddamnit!

Also, I just checked Wikipedia to be sure of my dates, and realized that all of this was a lot more recent than I would've guessed. Just a little bit shy of three years ago. My daughter at seven seems an entirely different order of maturity than she did at four, which probably explains why the three years feels more like ten years.
posted by Ipsifendus at 11:31 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I somehow ended up with something like six hours worth of these on my computer. I was getting ready to delete them, when I thought "Eh, let's check it out and see if it's anything good."

Many hours later, of one episode, right after another, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that sometimes a kid's cartoon is just what you need when having a bad weekend. I never would have guessed it, but I'd be willing to suggest this and a good drink as therapy to anyone having a shitty day.
posted by quin at 12:55 PM on October 10, 2011

Flex, ya done good! I didn't know about these (no TV.) I've always wished there were cartoons with the M. Pens, and now I know what to do on a rainy Monday.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:35 PM on October 10, 2011

Flex, this is beauty. If I could convince my kids to only watch this and Phineas & Ferb, I'd be a happy woman. And now I have a lovely compilation of episodes handy for the next time my son demands a "pwogram" on the iPad.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 4:58 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can you please do the same for me with Earthworm Jim and Animaniacs? Thanks.
posted by Chuffy at 6:30 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Adventure Time and Scooby Doo Mystery Inc for me
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:48 PM on October 10, 2011

#9: Two Feet High And Rising

Also, this is all the reason I could ever imaginably need to watch this show.
posted by cthuljew at 11:41 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

#9: Two Feet High And Rising

Also, this is all the reason I could ever imaginably need to watch this show.

I missed that on first reading. Okay, now I need to check this out. (Please please please have a bar or two of "Eye Know" in the background music!)
posted by benito.strauss at 6:26 AM on October 12, 2011

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