Western Animation: 3-2-1 Penguins!

"Let's sing a little song
With eight little words
'Bout a rocket ship
And flightless birds
Zidgel! Midgel! Fidgel! Kevin!
Three! Two! One! Penguins!"
3-2-1 Penguins! Theme Song

Produced by Big Idea Productions (the guys who made Veggie Tales), 3-2-1 Penguins! stars twin siblings Michelle Frances Conrad (who is older by five minutes) and Jason T. Conrad. Both have been shipped off to stay with their very British "grandmum" for the summer, while their parents go...someplace else.

In the Pilot Episode, Jason mopes around because he would much rather be at Space Camp, and as evening falls on their first day at the cottage, he is bored out of his skull after their television blows a fuse. Michelle, on the other hand, has found a set of porcelain penguins and is rather enjoying herself when Jason happens upon the hidden attic. Upon investigation, the twins find a bunch of old toys and games, as well as a large telescope. When Michelle hogs the telescope, Jason stuffs her penguins into a toy spaceship and accidentally drops them both. Rather than breaking, the ship bounces around before springing to life. The now living and sentient penguins "galeezil" Jason into the toy ship and whisk off into space to deal with a distress call.

In Episode 2, it's Michelle's turn to take a ride with the penguins, and from then on, one or both of the twins would join the penguins as they traveled through the stars, helping various Amusing (and less-than-amusing) Aliens with whatever the universe decided to throw at them. Astonishingly, the solution to each location's problem usually hinges on something Grandmum tried to teach the kids earlier.

Since the show is targeted at a slightly older demographic than that of Veggie Tales, there's a distinct lack of musical numbers in each episode (but not Big Idea's trademark humor). However, at the end of most episodes, the Penguins attend Amateur Night at the Comet Lounge where they sing a song related to the episode's moral lesson.

The series was initially a set of six direct-to-video episodes, released between 2000 and 2003, but after a four-year hiatus, the show was picked up by NBC's Qubo block and has since gained two additional seasons.

3-2-1 Penguins! provides examples of:

  • Adorkable: In "The Amazing Carnival of Complaining", Dr. Fidgel says the following line in one of the most adorkable ways possible.
    Fidgel: Sensors indicate fun!
  • Aerith and Bob: The Penguins' names are Zidgel, Midgel, Fidgel... and Kevin.
  • Alien Sky: The planets Wait-Your-Turn, Tell-a-Lie, Rigel 13, and Cross-Your-Heart have this. Lampshaded in Lazy Daze
    Midgel: Blue grass, green skies, and no ants.
    Michelle: Don't you mean green grass and blue skies?
  • Aliens Speaking English: Played straight with most of the aliens, averted with the light-bulb aliens in "Runaway Pride at Lightstation Kilowatt" who speak in R2-D2-ish gibberish and the ear-like lobes in Compassion Crashin who communicate with "Budda, budda, budda."
  • All Animals Are Domesticated: In The Doom Funnel Rescue, Jason finds a mouse and names him Preston. Preston still acts like a mouse, but doesn't seem to mind being handled at all. Later on, Michelle even dresses him up in a bridal gown.
  • All-CGI Cartoon: Everything is CGI.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Played straight with planets Sharalike from Give and Let Give, which has a Sahara Desert-like surface and Picket from The Green-Eyed Monster, which has a pasture-like surface, averted with Wait-Your-Turn, Tell-a-Lie, Rigel 13, and Cross-Your-Heart.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the Planet Tell-a-Lie music video, "The Legend of Galaxy Gus", there is a wanted poster with this on it: "Wanted, Honcho Villa, fer bank robbery, cattle rustlin', and not makin' his bed.
  • Asteroid Miners: The Lobes from Compassion Crashin' work in the baking soda mines of an asteroid belt.
  • Asteroid Thicket: The Rockhopper crew encounters one of these in Compassion Crashin'.
  • As the Good Book Says: Grandmum and occasionally Sol quotes from the Good Book.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animals: The Penguins and some other characters.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The giant ants in Lazy Daze.
  • Big "NO!": In the episode Wise Guys, Jason does this twice, and both times coupled with a Skyward Scream: the first when he discovers that the batteries are not included with the time machine, and another when he is told that he and his sister are stuck in the future forever.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In Wiki Tiki, the tiki king says, "Mahalo nui" to Zidgel. Mahalo nui is Hawaiian for "thank you very much."
  • Black Bead Eyes: The human characters as well as a few aliens have these.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn, how the Penguins describe how hot it is on the planet.
    Fidgel: Like a sauna.
    Midgel: Like a barbecue.
    Zidgel: Like someone's barbecuing in a sauna.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Invasion of the Body Swappers, part of Zidgel's song lyrics are, "I make them swoon, even for a cartoon!"
  • Brick Joke: President No-I'm-the-President's cameo in The Cheating Scales of Bullamanka and The Amazing Carnival of Complaining.
  • Call Back: Cheating Scales of Bullamanka features many call backs to Trouble on Planet Wait your Turn. This one in particular gets Lampshaded:
    Michelle: Jason was right! You guys are real!
    Midgel: Either that or you're daydreaming.
    Kevin: Whoa! Deja vu!
    (guitar riff from The Twilight Zone plays)
  • Carnival Of Fear: Uncle Blobb's Amazing Carnival. Well, the carnival is actually fun; it's what happens to most of the customers that's freaky.
  • Catch Phrase: The Penguins all have one.
    • Zidgel: "Doctor Fidgel, Galeezle him/her."
    • Midgel: "BAN-ZAAAAAAAAAAI!"
    • Fidgel: "Sensors indicate..."
    • Kevin: "Helloooooo!"
  • Conveniently Close Planet: All of the planets don't take very long to travel to them.
  • Chubby Grandma Skinny Grandpa: In photos from Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn, the twins' grandfather looks tiny in comparison to their grandmother.
  • Cute Is Evil: Bert the Hamster inside the Cavitus Suit.
  • Distressed Dude: In Do Unto Brothers, Zidgel, Midgel, and Fidgel get captured by Cavitus.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: This T.V. show is about penguins, in space!
  • Excited Show Title!
  • The Faceless: Grandmum always has something covering her face. However, her face has finally briefly appeared fully in "Moon Menace On Planet Tell-A-Lie" without anything covering it up.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The Rockhopper can travel places really fast.
  • Feathery Reminder: In the commentary for Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn, Midgel mentions that he was up for hours, preening himself all morning.
  • The Federation: Who the Penguins work for.
  • Five-Man Band
  • Fountain of Youth: In Wise Guys, the time machine causes Kevin to revert to a younger penguin and eventually an egg. He reverts back to his regular age in the end.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Most of the characters have either three or four fingers on each hand, including the human characters. Jason even lampshaded this in Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn when he holds up all his fingers on one hand and a finger on his other hand to indicate "5".
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: In Invasion of the Body Swappers, Zidgel and Kevin switch bodies.
  • Freudian Excuse: Cavitus is mean because of how he was treated at The Academy.
  • Funny Background Event: In Runaway Pride at Lightstation Kilowatt, Captain Zidgel points a laser beam at his hair, causing it to catch on fire, which causes him to run around like crazy until Kevin uses a fire extinguisher to put it out.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "B, I, N, G. Beneficial Imprinting Neuromatic Gizmo." "BING!"
  • Genius Ditz: Kevin. He had low scores at the Academy and was apparently was placed on the ship by mistake. However, he can understand the R2-D2-ish language of the light bulbs.
  • Gentle Giant: Kevin, of course!
  • Green-Eyed Monster: An episode is actually titled The Green Eyed Monster, and it involves a planet where a pack of sheep is jealous at another because of their pastures.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Jason and Michelle.
  • Heel-Face Turn: The Lizard King reforms after hearing Michelle's speech on playing by the rules.
  • Human Aliens: The garden gnomes from Planet Sharalike and the tiki aliens from Planet Wiki Tiki are the closest things the show has to these.
  • Humanoid Aliens: The Penguins themselves are these.
  • In-Character Commentaries: Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn, The Cheating Scales of Bullamanka, and The Amazing Carnival of Complaining have commentaries by Ron Smith, Zidgel, Midgel, Fidgel, and Kevin.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Jason and Michelle, two seven-year-old kids, are friends with Zidgel, Midgel, Fidgel, and Kevin, who all look like they are in their thirties.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Jason and Michelle, two humans, are friends with Zidgel, Midgel, Fidgel, and Kevin, four penguins.
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: A lot of stuff.
    • The Cutting-In-Line bug moved Planet Wait-Your-Turn in front of the other planets in its solar system.
    • Lying causes the moon of Planet Tell-A-Lie to move closer
  • Karma Houdini: Uncle Blobb manages to get away with nearly destroying a bunch of pumpkin-headed kids in seed form by escaping in a rocket disguised as an outhouse.
  • Land Downunder: Space Base Bullamanka, where the Lizard and Bandicoot Kings live.
  • Lizard Folk: The Lizard King and Wild Bill Quasar.
  • Mathematician's Answer: In the first episode, when Jason asks where they're going, Kevin ponders briefly before answering "Up."
  • Maybe High Tech, Maybe Mundane: It's never really specified if the kids' adventures are just daydreams or are actually happening. Both are hinted at.
  • Meganekko: Michelle, though she hates to wear her glasses.
  • Mobile-Suit Human: The recurring villain in the T.V. version Baron von Cavitus is actually a hamster in a mechanical suit named Bert Bertman.
  • Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: For starters, the Penguins' spaceship takes only a few hours to travel from planet to planet.
  • The Napoleon: Midgel, obviously. Heck, if you change the L to a T, it would be spelled "midget".
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The Doom Funnels of Space Colony Double-Wide.
  • Never Bareheaded: Midgel is never seen without some sort of headgear.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted twice.
    • In Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn, when Jason accidentally pulls down the stairs to the attic and nearly hits Michelle, she tells him, "You almost killed me!"
    • In The Doom Funnel Rescue Zidgel exclaims that they're all gonna die.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: None of the main characters have any onscreen romantic relationships.
  • Nobody Touches the Hair: In Lazy Daze, Zidgel tells Midgel, "I don't touch your buttons, you don't touch my 'do'."
  • Odd Name Out: Zidgel, Midgel, Fidgel, "keh-VEEN".
  • One-Gender Race: The Lobes are all female.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In Practical Hoax, Cavitus' and his minions' disguises consist only of Groucho Marx glasses.
  • Penguins Can Breath In Space: Most of the characters, including the human kids.
  • Reverse Telescopic Vision: This happens in The Doom Funnel Rescue to Captain Zidgel, when Fidgel tries warning the rest of the crew about a highly combustible gas tank at the gas station. Zidgel looks through the wrong end of Fidgel's binoculars and thinks that the tank is miles away, until Fidgel turns them around to which Zidgel then starts freaking out about it.
  • Running Gag: Increasingly bizarre forms of landing gear.
    • "BANZAI!!!"
    • "Either that or you're daydreaming."
    • The Galeezil's exaggerated kick-back
    • "*gasp!*" "*Gasp!*" "*Gasp!*"
  • Scary Flashlight Face: In Wise Guys, Kevin does this when Jason starts the time machine and the lights go out.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: In Lazy Daze, Captain Zidgel screams like a little girl when giant ants ruin a picnic.
  • Shaped Like Itself: In Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn, Jason asks how he's supposed to fit in their space ship when he's so much taller than they are. Zidgel answers: "Hey, when I was your size, I was twice your size!" Cue Jason's Aside Glance.
  • Shout-Out: Since this was made by the same studio that made VeggieTales, expect some shout outs to it.
    • In Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn, Michelle says that she and Jason stopped at Burger Bell on their way to the cottage. Burger Bell first appeared in "Love Songs with Mr Lunt, His Cheeseburger."
    • And in the same episode, Larry the Cucumber appears as a vacuum cleaner.
    • In The Cheating Scales of Bullamanka, when Kevin says, "Whoa! Deja vu!" the guitar rift from The Twilight Zone theme briefly plays.
    • In the same episode, when the Game of Squid-Tac-Toad is finished, Zidgel does the Woody Woodpecker laugh.
    • In "Moon Menace on Planet Tell-a-Lie'', Zidgel is trying to find out where he heard a certain story from.
    • When Zidgel greets the cow captain in In the Big House, he does the Vulcan salute.
  • Sibling Seniority Squabble: Jason notes that Michelle is only 5 minutes older and holds out his hand to indicate "5" only to realize that as a cartoon he only has four digits per hand.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Michelle is the only main female character. She even lampshades it in Compassion Crashin.
    Michelle: And since I'm the only girl around.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Taken to the extreme in Runaway Pride at Lightstation Kilowatt
    • It's got Planetary Riptides, the Asteroid Reef, and the Vrrmeze Waves.
  • Space Whale Aesop: In Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn.
    Jason: Having to go first all the time only leads to trouble! Like getting burned up by the sun! Now, the consequences are not always so extreme, but good things come to those who wait.
    • Remember, kids, it's wrong to lie. Because if you do, the moon will flatten you and your planet.
  • Starfish Aliens: Some of the aliens encountered include sentient vacuum cleaners, pumpkin-headed children, light bulbs with arms and legs who communicate with clicking and beeping sounds, dart-like aliens, and ear lobes with arms and legs whose vocabulary consists of one word.
  • Theme Naming: The Penguins, except for Kevin.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: In Practical Hoax, Zidgel hums the theme song when doing his hair.
  • Token Human: Jason, Michelle, and Grandmum are the only humans seen in the entire series.
  • Toothy Penguin: All the penguins are shown to have teeth.
  • Villain Song: "Uncle Blobb's Amazing Carnival" from The Amazing Carnival of Complaining.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Fidgel looks a lot like the twins' grandpa.
  • Weird Moon: Tell-a-Lie's moon is controlled by the planet itself instead of its own. When it is on its own, it'll crashed down if anyone lies.

Alternative Title(s):

Three Two One Penguins