Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Penguins of Madagascar

The Penguins of Madagascar

Spring 2013 Television
Ages: 5 - 11 yrs.
Producer: Nickelodeon
Rating: TV Y7

Based on characters introduced in the feature film Madagascar, this animated half-hour children's program premiered on Nickelodeon in 2009. Four penguins at the Central Park Zoo—Rico, Private, Skipper, and Kowalski—make up a commando-like force fighting evil nemesis and fellow zoo resident King Julien the lemur.

At times, it's the kind of loud and frenetic program that will make parents' heads ache. However, it's usually worth the extra aspirin, because the animation is cleverly detailed, the dialogue is amusing, and the penguins parody action movie heroes so well. Some of the voice talent that was popular in the film that inspired this spin-off have been replaced—most notably Sacha Baron Cohen and Cedric the Entertainer—but fans of the movie won't be disappointed. Character voices run the gamut from gravelly to supremely goofy, right on point for the tongue-in-cheek, good-guy-battles-bad-guy tone of the program.

Storylines aren't overly complicated; most present a simple event which sets up sight gags and allows the penguins to engage in a lot of broad humor, such as "Operation: Big Blue Marble," in which Kowalski invents a machine that unintentionally ends up altering the weather. Parents will get a grin out of the way the episode pokes fun at TV news and weather reporters. Other storylines offer similar gags, such as "Operation: Antarctica," in which Private escorts a lost seal on a long journey back home.

Give the writers a lot of credit for this program because it would be easy to dash off some first-level creativity stuff and call it a day. But they don't. The writers have crafted solid characters and then go the extra mile to come up with truly amusing scenarios for them. No, it's not particularly educational programming—but it is genuinely entertaining programming, making it worthwhile viewing for kids who need some time to kick back, relax, and simply enjoy a good laugh.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster's Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.

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