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Western Animation / The King Kong Show

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"King Kong,
You know the name of
King Kong,
You know the fame of
King Kong,
Ten times as big as a man."
Theme Song for The King Kong Show

The third television series to be produced by Videocraft (later known as Rankin/Bass Productions), with help from Japanese animation studio Toei Animation, in one of the latter's earliest works. This series, very loosely based off the iconic giant gorilla, ran on ABC as a Saturday-Morning Cartoon from 1966 to 1969.

In this series, Professor Bond (no, not that Bond) lands in the fictional island of Mondo Island, presumably an Expy setting of Skull Island, with his son and daughter, Bobby and Susan. As the family gets a sense of their surroundings, Bobby gets lost and ends up running into a Tyrannosaurus rex that nearly eats him. Just as the situation seems hopeless, Kong, the 8th Wonder of the World shows up and rescues the boy from certain death. Bobby and Kong soon befriend each other and the family soon relies on him to protect themselves, and the island, from various threats.

The King Kong Show has almost nothing to do with the 1933 film and its plot, aside from the use of Kong and an island setting. All other characters were created strictly for the series (well, almost, read below for more on that) and do not appear in any other Kong material. The later two animated series based on the Kong universe, Kong: The Animated Series and its Spiritual Successor, Kong: King of the Apes, follow a very similar formula as this series, but are set in a more modern/futuristic timeline.

The series was originally broadcast in three segments, with the first and the third segments containing Kong episodes. The second segment is for a seperate series, Tom Of T.H.U.M.B. This segment has a tiny secret agent named Tom, working with his Asian sidekick Swinging Jack, stopping various evil plots across the globe.

The show is notable for introducing Mechani-Kong (spelled Mechanikong in the series), Kong's robot duplicate, and the main antagonist Dr. Who (No, not that Dr. Who), who would both become the main antagonists of King Kong Escapes, envisioned originally as a co-production between Toho and Rankin-Bass.

The King Kong Show provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: The first of the animated adaptations that portray Kong as a Gentle Gorilla.
  • Adapted Out: Unlike Skull Island in the original work, there are no natives in Mondo Island. Instead, in an early episode, the Bond family and Kong have a near fatal encounter with a lost tribe of people living under a volcano on a small neighboring island.
  • Berserk Button: Never ever think of harming or even threatening anyone close to Kong. ESPECIALLY Bobby.
    • On at least one episode, Bobby is forced to exploit that fact when he, his family, and their friend Captain Englehorn are placed in a death trap room by Dr. Who, with an unsuspecting Kong observing them from outside through an impenetrable glass, a glass so thick he is unable to hear them call out to him for help. When all attempts to get him to understand fail, Bobby gets an understandably reluctant Captain to hit him in order to make Kong angry enough to smash through the wall and save them. The plan works, but Bobby and his family barely manage to calm Kong down long enough to explain the true situation to him before he can kill poor Englehorn for "hurting" his friend.
  • Expy: Mondo Island, which is supposed to resemble Skull Island in the original film. It's possible Videocraft couldn't get RKO to license the name for them.
  • In Name Only: Aside from the use of the title character and the island setting, it takes no cues from the original film whatsoever.
  • Limited Animation: It's from the guys that would later give us Frosty the Snowman, so this is expected.
  • Prequel: The series is implied to take place years before the events of the 1933 film. How that jibes with the nuclear weapons, giant robots, and other supertech is another matter.
  • Mad Scientist: Doctor Who plays this straight throughout the series.
  • Merchandise-Driven: The only reason the series was created in the first place was to capitalize on the popularity of King Kong throughout the world.
  • Primate Versus Reptile: Kong first meets Bobby by fighting a Tyrannosaurus that tried to eat him. In two episodes, the big ape would fight a violent Triceratops.
  • Ur-Example: The King Kong Show is the first anime series produced in Japan for an American company (fully hand-drawn that is, not counting Rankin/Bass' previous Animagic stop motion productions, which were also animated in Japan).