Produced by Big Idea Productions (the guys who made VeggieTales), 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 VeggieTales, 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.
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 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.
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."
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".
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.
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 eight-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.
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 More is More, Fidgel states that there seems to be some disturbance in the force of gravity.