The Penguins of Madagascar: New to the Zoo (2010)

Genre(s): Animation / Comedy
DreamWorks Animation || NR - 88 minutes - $19.99 || August 10, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-08-13


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Tom McGrath & Eric Darnell (characters)
Cast: Jeff Bennett, John Di Maggio, Tom McGrath, James Patrick Stuart, Danny Jacobs, Andy Richter


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
    None


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Since the release of DreamWorks’ Madagascar in 2005, it has spawned a modestly successful sequel, a couple spin-off direct-to-video or TV specials and a television series on Nickelodeon called “The Penguins of Madagascar”.

For those not in the loop, The Penguins are supporting characters in the movies and are comprised of four crackerjack penguins named Private, Kowalski, Rico and leader Skipper. In the series, the Penguins are at the New York City Zoo and every episode they run up against some situation which must be resolved in militaristic fashion. So far, the series has been on the air for about a year and rather than releasing it complete series form, it seems DreamWorks and Paramount have chosen to go with the select episode offering route.

Along with The Penguins of Madagascar: Happy Julien Day – which focuses on the King Julien character (originally voiced by Sacha Baron Cohen, now done by Danny Jacobs) –, the studio also released TPOM: New to the Zoo. The collection of 8 episodes focuses on the new animals that make appearances at the zoo that most often causing chaos for our favorite penguins and their pals.

My experience with some of these spin-off shows are limited and I mostly avoid them mainly because they’re made for kids 7 and under, but for some reason The Penguins of Madagascar was different in that while yes the storylines and humor are very much geared for a younger age group, if one is in the right frame of mind (or wrong, I guess), you could actually get through each episode fairly quickly and unscathed, which I did.

I noticed that each episode was only 11 minutes and change and upon my mini research on the show, it airs with two stories which would make for basically a half-hour cartoon. Unfortunately, they are not reproduced that way here as it mixes and matches episodes, some from ’09, others newer in ’10. It’s not a big deal of course but something I should mention since it seems each release (be it Happy Julien Day or the upcoming I Was a Penguin Zombie set for release in October 2010) will go back and forth with what to include and whatever fits the DVD’s theme.

So, onto what this release offers: while I admit that I am not the target audience, I will say that for the most part it is a cute and often funny show. It’s breezy and easy to watch not having to think too hard on the “plot” and just have fun watching The Penguins and their zoo pals take even the most mundane task very seriously. I can’t say the selection here are anything laugh-out-loud hilarious, but for what this is and who it’s aimed at, I had fun watching New at the Zoo.

The episodes included are:
01. In the Line of Doody – The Penguins have to protect the City Zoo Commissioner (voiced by Gary Cole) from Frankie the pigeon’s wrath.
02. The Big Squeeze – When the little mammals in the zoo start to disappear, the Penguins suspect the new boa constrictor, Salvio.
03. Out of the Groove – Julien is horrified when the baboons’ dance routine gets more attention than his own.
04. Skorca! – On watch-duty, Private sees a terrifying Skorca: a sky orca whale.
05. The Red Squirrel – Skipper’s idol, Rockgut, accuses all of the zoo animals of being his nemesis, the Red Squirrel.
06. Jiggles – Kowalski accidentally creates a living blob of jelly named Jiggles.
07. Untouchable – A tiny frog with a nasty attitude moves into the zoo and starts terrorizing the animals.
08. Cat’s Cradle – Max the cat is on the run from evil animal control Officer X and comes to the Penguins for help.

There aren’t really any episodes I would categorize as a favorite but ‘The Big Squeeze’ is pretty good while the others are pretty much on par with one another, though I can’t stand King Julien so ‘Out of the Groove’ would be at the bottom of the list for me.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Other than promos for other DreamWorks projects, there’s nothing here.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The episodes are presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio while we are given a decent Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. There’s nothing special about either presentation but since the focus is for kids, I’m sure there won’t be any complaints.



.::OVERALL::.

All told, the 8 episodes add up to around 88-minutes so perhaps at the current $19.99 SRP, it is a tad much but if you can nab this for under $10 and are fans of the Penguins – or have kids that love the characters – then it might be worth it as I’m unsure as to whether DreamWorks/Paramount will ever release the show in season sets.