Reviews: The Penguins Of Madagascar

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Penguins of Madagascar
I liked the original Madagascar films, and was thrilled when the Penguins got their own show. The series starts out a little slow, and the animation is a bit stiff. But this changes in the later half of season 1 and into season 2. The Penguins themselves are more developed than in the films, where they were more like add-ons to Skipper. But here each of them has a distinct personality. The episodes, while they can get a little predictable, are still entertaining. The humor is great, and was a nice change from the more plot-driven shows coming out at the time. The show tended to be very campy, and wasn't afraid to go a little crazy. It didn't constrain itself with laws for the world, and in many respects, Penguins feels more like a show of the 90's, being more freeform and loose. The show practically ran on Rule of Funny, Either through character interactions, out-there plots, or just one off jokes. This show actually made me laugh, witch I haven't done while watching a cartoon since Ed,Edd'n'Eddy was canned. The show continued its parent's trend of making obscure references, and avoided (for the most part) the trend in shows to reference pop-culture. So is Penguins worth your time? You bet!
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Flawed?
Flawed? Honestly, besides the first episode or two— where it was obvious the show and its writers were still trying to figure themselves out— I've seen nothing but perfection. Every episode has made me laugh one way or another. And I'll be honest once again...while I didn't hate the movies, per say, I wouldn't call them 'cinematic masterpieces'. In fact, Alex and the other big three bored me to an extent. But the penguins and lemurs? The show did right with focusing on them, because in the movies they were definitely the funniest parts.

I'm also a fan of how the characters were actually given more developed personalities. I don't tend to find myself loving a whole cast of characters often...But heck, I do with POM! Every single one of these characters have either made me laugh, cry, or just melt from my heart exploding from just how precious they are. The show does well with showing just how messed up and insane each of them are, in their own unique ways. I can't help but smile as they pretty much accuse the other of being the bigger lunatic.

Saying all of that...I do have one teeny tiny problem with this show. So far every female character, with the exception of Marlene and Alice, has been used in some love interest sort of plot. (Okay, also —technically— the zookeeper over at Hoboken wasn't a love interest. But she was also just a one time character, just like most of the said love interests.) We had Kitka, Lulu, Doris, Shelly, and to some extent Arlene. Yes, she was just Marlene with bleached fur; however, the other characters THOUGHT she was a new character and acted out-of-character just because she was female.

I know POM isn't the first show to have problems with female characters, and I know it won't be the last, but as a woman I can't help but notice it all the same.

That all said, while it is a problem...I truly did mean it when I said it was a tiny flaw. The show is so hilarious, and I adore the characters so much, that I easily let it slide. I'm too busy laughing at Broaches, or dawwing over the team showing they DO care for each other, to really even think about it. Best show I've seen made by Nickelodeon in a VERY long time.
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My Guilty Pleasure
OK, just to clarify, first of all, this is not a very good series and I know it. The animation's not great, the stories and jokes are predictable and the penguins are not as psychotic as in the film. That's not to say that I don't like it. It's entertaining, the voice acting is solid, the animation, while choppy, is still expressive, and the penguins still get to do whatever the hell they want without any care for discretion, though you wonder if the zoo ought to get more discipline if its animals are running about the city all the time and visiting each other's cages. Artifact Title aside, this is definitely something of an alternate continuity. The Zoosters are still missing, so it gets to focus on the Ensemble Darkhorse s of the show. And here's a reason why I like the show, and I don't think I realized this until now. The penguins are described on their collective page as Jerkasses. Here, they're more Jerks with Hearts of Gold. They actually get to show a softer side, moments where they care, actually care about others and each other. Skipper's always there for his crew when he needs them, and when he isn't he does everything in his power to make sure he is keeping his men in line, Kowalski feels terribly lost without him, Private is one they have an occasional Team Dad/ Big Brother Instinct towards... even Rico has been shown that side of him! And one other good thing about this is that I get to know each of them individually, and see them really interact. Maybe I was younger and didn't know any better when I saw the first film but I could barely tell them apart. The characters being more exaggerated than they are... and I think that's fine. To be honest, the comedy is pretty trial and error, so the characters can be exaggerated as long as it works as a gag. I find Kowalski's egomania, while sometimes annoying, to be hugely entertaining. He's not as annoying as Julien, but even he has an alleged softer side. I also find it hilarious how everyone is just rampantly gay with everyone; with the exception of Kowalski's crush on Doris, if they declare or express their love for each other, they're like "Yeah, we're cool with that."

All in all, a surprisingly entertaining series, if hugely flawed. I ignored this one back in '08 and I didn't know what I was missing.
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