The Penguins of Madagascar is an American computer-animated series co-produced by DreamWorks and Nickelodeon, and executive-produced by Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle. It was the first of three co-productions between DreamWorks and Nickelodeon (the later two being Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness and Monsters vs. Aliens).
The series stars the Penguins from DreamWorks' Madagascar film franchise. The pilot episode, "Gone in a Flash", aired as part of Superstuffed Nicktoons Weekend on November 28, 2008, alongside seven new episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants. The series officially began regularly airing on March 28, 2009 (following the premiere of that year's Kids' Choice Awards). Nickelodeon ordered 26 episodes for season 1, and ordered a second season of 26 episodes in January 2009, bringing the total to 52. The series premiere drew 6.1 million viewers, making it the network's most-watched series premiere to date.
The Penguins of Madagascar was officially stated to have ended production in December 2014. Afterward, DreamWorks Animation produced two more Madagascar television shows, both of them prequels to the original films - All Hail King Julien (which had Schooley and McCorkle serving as executive consultants) and Madagascar: A Little Wild.
The series follows the adventures of four penguin protagonists - Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private - in New York City's Central Park Zoo. The Penguins rule the roost at their Central Park habitat, carrying out secret missions in the heart of the city. At times, their missions beckon them to venture outside the zoo. Just as the team thinks it has its urban acreage under control, a new neighbor moves in next door: Julien, King of the Lemurs. Now the penguins must keep control of the Central Park Zoo despite the lemur's antics.
Continuity with the films
The series' canonicity and timeline placement in relation to the Madagascar movies is unclear. The show's intro sequence shows the Penguins opening a crate shipped from Madagascar, which is revealed to contain Julien, Maurice, and Mort, suggesting this is how the lemurs ended up at the Central Park Zoo. However, the movies' protagonists - Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippopotamus, and Melman the giraffe - are nowhere to be seen and are rarely, if ever, mentioned (with the notable exception of Alex appearing as Skipper's hallucination, as detailed below).
Mark McCorkle said that they had considered linking the series with the movies early on, but production started before the ending to Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (in which the Penguins leave for Monte Carlo while the lemurs stay in Africa with the films' protagonists) was finalized. Tom McGrath (the franchise's co-creator and the voice of Skipper) implied once that the series does not actually take place in the same continuity as the Madagascar movies themselves, saying that he "simply wanted them all back at the zoo" and that he "think[s] of it as taking place in a parallel universe". However, there is no other known official word from DreamWorks Animation on the matter.
Contrary to McGrath's statement, the show does occasionally allude to the events of the films, suggesting that it is in continuity with the movies:
- In the Season 1 episode "Zoo Tube", a taxi driver asks his friend on the phone if he had seen the video of a lion getting hit by an old lady (referring to Alex's encounter with Nana in the first Madagascar film).
- In the show's Christmas episode, "The All Nighter Before Christmas", Santa Claus appears, with Carl Reiner reprising the voice from the 2009 Christmas special Merry Madagascar, and both he and King Julien recognize each other, with the latter even saying "we go way back," likely in reference to the special.
- And most notably, Alex the lion (voiced by Wally Wingert, reprising the role from the first Madagascar video game) appears as a hallucination of Skipper's in the hour-length second-season finale "The Return of Dr. Blowhole's Revenge", saying that they "used to be neighbors [until] a lot of crazy stuff happened," directly referring to the events of the first film.
It should be noted that a theatrical movie starring the Penguins and sharing the show's title was released in November 2014. The theatrical movie is officially shown to be in-continuity with the movies, taking place directly after the events of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, but none of the characters created for the TV show appear in it (though Julien and Mort have a speaking cameo in the mid-credits scene, possibly due to their prominence in the show). The movie was distributed by 20th Century Fox (the distributor of DreamWorks Animation's films at the time) and had no involvement from Nickelodeon whatsoever, so it is not covered on this wiki.
|Skipper, the Adelie Penguin (Tom McGrath): The leader of the group or elite force. He usually barks out orders, names plans, and slaps the others. One of his famous lines are "You didn't see anything", while he move his flippers, trying to confuse the others. He base his life on military force and saves animals in need with his friends. His arch-nemesis, Dr. Blowhole, is always on the lookout for the penguins which cause Skipper to be paranoid sometimes. Tom McGrath was able to return to voice Skipper for this series.|
|Kowalski, the Adelie Penguin (Jeff Bennett): The smartest, and tallest of the penguins. He forms plans for the group, but they are often disregarded. He usually takes notes for Skipper and helps the others in need. He apparently has a crush on a female dolphin named Doris in "Gone in a Flash". Also Kowalski loves science, but he sometimes he thinks he's always right and can be self-important. When he's exaggerating, things can go wrong.|
|Rico, the Adelie Penguin (John DiMaggio): Psychotic knife wizard and explosives expert. Rico likes to do what he wants and is always in another world. He always spits up war gear and other items for the other penguins. He is also sometimes seen with a Barbie-like doll in some episodes and can be out of control. He's a funny-looking, psychotic animal who can burst out violent explosives. When he explodes with psychotic pressure, he'll become a destro-machine but eventually cools down.|
|Private, the Adelie Penguin (James Patrick Stuart): The youngest of the group. He's mostly good at cracking codes, and is often slapped by Skipper. He loves taking notes for Skipper, and also makes good tuna smoothies, with "love". Private also loves peanut butter winkies and butterscotch lollies like the others. Sometimes he knows what's going in the zoo while the others didn't realize that.|
|Marlene, the Asian Otter (Nicole Sullivan): She dislikes the idea of being a damsel in distress and receiving help from the penguins. Marlene is afraid of going outside and tries to stay neutral between the feud of the penguins and lemurs. Sometime she knows what's going on and helps Skipper like in "Haunted Habitat". She can be a nice, positive mammal, but annoyed with Skipper in some episodes. Marlene can be paranoid when facing the unknown like Skipper.|
|King Julien XIII, Lord-of-the-Lemurs (Danny Jacobs): The ring-tailed lemur and a former self-proclaimed lemur king with his helpers, Mort and Maurice. He is a party animal who is annoying to everyone except Mort. He is also the series' main antagonist. Julien likes to order the lemurs' duties and sometimes cares more about himself than others. He wears a leafy crown and sits on a throne which supposedly makes him the king. Julien also frequently causes the animals distress, but he saves them when he changes his heart.|
|Maurice, the Aye Aye Lemur (Kevin Michael Richardson). The assistant of Julien who also helps Mort. He is annoyed by "the king" and secretly torture him. Sometimes Maurice is right and tries to make things better while Julien is talking or making nonsense, but he swore to be his servant for life. When trouble happen, he goes to the penguins for help while Julien doesn't.|
|Mort (Andy Richter) is a goodman's mouse Lemur. His logic is exactly opposite to that of Maurice. He is very innocent and often takes naive decisions and conclusions just like King Julien. Julien, in fact, detests him, but still wants him around. Mort worships Julian as God and loves his feet and tries not to miss any opportunity to hug them.|
|Season||Episodes||Season Premiere||Season Finale|
|1||48||November 28, 2008||November 27, 2010|
|2||68||March 13, 2010||March 31, 2012|
|3||33||April 16, 2012||December 19, 2015|
In late 2006, Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation announced that they would collaborate to create a Nicktoon based on the Madagascar films. The new series would star the Penguins from the film series.
Nickelodeon advertised a sneak peek of the series (along with The Mighty B! and Making Fiends) on November 25, 2007, as part of that year's Superstuffed Nicktoons Weekend. The Penguins of Madagascar was teased to air in 2008, but was delayed at least twice, most likely due to Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa being delayed to November 7, 2008. On November 28, 2008, Nickelodeon aired the pilot episode, "Gone in a Flash", as a sneak peek. Some copies of the Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa DVD came with an extra disc featuring the show's first full episode.
The series was co-produced between the Nickelodeon Animation Studio's Burbank, CA location and DreamWorks. Animation was carried out in India, New Zealand and Taiwan. Both Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation were planning on a 26-episode season for Season 1, but then the episode number ended up at 46.
- Nickelodeon (original run November 28, 2008-December 19, 2013; reruns February 15-March 15, 2015)
- NickToons (November 29, 2008-October 9, 2016; December 25, 2016 ["The All Nighter Before Christmas"])
- → Main article: The Penguins of Madagascar videography
The series' first DVD release, simply titled The Penguins of Madagascar and containing the two segments that made up the first episode, was released exclusively in a two-pack with some copies of the Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa DVD. Nine more DVDs of the show were released from 2010 to 2014. Most recently, five select episodes were included on Universal Studios Home Entertainment's Madagascar: The Ultimate Collection DVD and Blu-ray sets in 2019.
The series received mixed to positive reviews from critics and fans of the movies. While it has been praised for creativity, it was criticized by several fans of the franchise for not capturing the feel of the movies, having cheap animation, boring stories and for rewriting and flanderizing the characters' personalities (especially Julien). However, many fans of the franchise have praised it for being faithful to the source material, a funny premise, an all star cast, and even some great action scenes.
- Although "Gone in a Flash" is considered the series' official pilot episode, the show finds its roots in the theatrical short A Christmas Caper, which originally accompanied Wallace & Gromit in Curse of the Were-Rabbit in theaters and later appeared as a bonus feature on the first Madagascar movie's DVD. When Nickelodeon ran a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at the series during Superstuffed Nicktoons Weekend in 2007, clips from the short were used.
- In the second-season episode "Hello Dollface", when the Penguins were quickly separated because of the abundance of customers wanting to buy the talking Mrs. Perky Doll, Private is grabbed by a human, who then says, "A talking penguin? What is this, 2005?" This is in reference to the year the original Madagascar movie was released.
- Only four episodes of the series were not released on any medium - "Tunnel of Love", "Goodnight and GoodChuck", "P.E.L.T.", and "The Penguin Who Loved Me". Prior to the series being added to Paramount+, one could only view them in the "Complete Series" collection on Amazon Prime Video and a few on-demand releases such as Xfinity.
- Nicktoonstory Archives: December 19, 2015
- Archived Zap2it.com TV listings from December 12, 2015 (the day the series finale aired on NickToons)
- Nick serves toons for Thanksgiving
- Nickstory Archives: November 28, 2008
- Animation World Network: Nick's Penguins is Basic Cable's # 1 Kids' Show with Total Viewers for the Week
- Tweet by John DiMaggio, dated December 1, 2014
- Animation World Network: 'Penguins of Madagascar' Strike Back
- MovieWeb.com: DreamWorks and Nickelodeon team up
- Nickstory Archives: The Penguins of Madagascar
- NickToons: G.L.O.B.E. Archives: The Penguins of Madagascar
- Madagascar Wiki: The Penguins of Madagascar
- The Penguins of Madagascar at the Internet Movie Database