The Penguins of Madagascar - "The Big Move/Endangerous Species" Recap
The Big Move: After an eerily quiet night without the lemurs, the Penguins discover that they’ve snuck out to the park at night, only to return in the morning. Seeing the benefits, Skipper shows King Julien a secret tunnel leading directly to the park, on the conditions that he and his subjects keep it a secret and that they return in the morning. Being a loose-lipped King, Julien tells all of the zoo animals about the tunnel, and they all sneak out at night. Upon trying to return to the zoo, Burt accidentally blocks the tunnel, preventing the other animals from exiting it. Can the Penguins get everyone back to the zoo before Alice finds out?
Endangerous Species: Thanks to Rico and Skipper, instead of retrieving a feather for an extinct Penguin, the Penguins grab a feather from Dode the Dodo bird. Using Kowalski’s cloning machine, they revive him. And as Kowalski notes, “it seems that centuries of living without natural predators has caused the dodo’s DNA to evolve without fear genes.” Every time they revive Dode, he throws himself in danger’s way, with disastrous results. When the cloning machine malfunctions, a whole army of Dodes appear, each one set on living life to the fullest. Can they save at least one dodo bird from extinction, or will they all meet the same fate?
Courtesy of Bob Schooley (@Rschooley)
Immediately after the “Operation: Antarctica” special, we get this new pair of episodes. Unsurprisingly, “The Big Move” and “Endangerous Species” didn’t get a big promotion. Then again, neither did the new episodes of Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness or T.U.F.F. Puppy. In fact, of the animated shows that had new episodes airing last Monday, “Operation: Antarctica” was promoted the most. Yet, all of the new episodes were given horrible timeslots, and “Operation: Antarctica” was squeezed in between the new Kung Fu Panda episode and these new episodes. It just goes to show you where Nickelodeon’s priorities lie.
“The Big Move” is a classic, formulaic episode of The Penguins of Madagascar. You know, where King Julien causes a problem, yet he ends up fixing it without even trying or knowing. And you know what? There’s almost no problem with that, because it reminds us fans exactly why we love the show. Almost. The only problem with that is “The Big Move” brings nothing new to the table, other than the plot line. I can’t help but feel as though it was a Season One leftover, but it couldn’t fit, so they shoehorned it into Season Two, which generally has a darker theme. I’m not saying that I dislike “The Big Move” (quite the opposite), but I am saying that it’s unexpected after episodes that were either dark (“I Know Why the Caged Bird Goes Insane”) or weird (“The Big S.T.A.N.K.”).
If we’re grading it as a classic Penguins of Madagascar episode, which we are, “The Big Move” succeeds as there’s both visual gags (tiny/polka-dotted Kowalski being the best), and dialogue to keep the audience entertained throughout. However brief it was, it was great to see Archie (voiced by Rob Paulsen) again, this time trying to con them in traditional salesman-like antics. The same feeling applies toward the return of Parks Commissioner Pervis McSlade (Gary Cole), as he’s the reason why the Penguins have to get the animals back to their own habitats in time. And let’s not forget a brief appearance of Gus the Repairman (Fred Tatasciore). Everything just clicks and falls into place in “The Big Move.” Except, of course, for Kowalski.
With “Endangerous Species,” Penguins introduces us to actual death on the show. Off-camera, of course, but considering how many times Dode the Dodo Bird actually does die (and the way it’s expressed), it’s a comedic take on death. And that’s perfect for this show’s target audience. As Dode’s debut episode, I have to say that the way the Penguins resolve the problem of Dode’s daredevil antics was genius. Especially Kowalski’s reaction when Private questioned the effectiveness of Skipper’s plan. There’s also the nice references to past episodes (Marlene’s roommate experience in “Roomies,” the return of the “My Car!” guy), and the usually inadvertent assistance from King Julien.
One negative of “Endangerous Species” is that it’s somewhat similar to “Gator Watch,” where the Penguins have to find an animal a new home. At each home the Penguins initially find, though, said animal ruins the situation in some way. Of course this time, there’s a different spin on the story as each time, Dode kept killing himself, much to the animals’ disgust. Both episodes had the same outcome: the Penguins succeeded in finding each animal the perfect home in the end. To me, it didn’t seem quite as funny the second time around because I had a sense of deja vu while watching “Endangerous Species.” Maybe it’s because of the fact that the dodos just kept killing themselves; but then again, that’s why they’re called dodos.
As the first new pair of episodes of the year, Penguins starts off on the right track with this pair because “The Big Move” reminds us fans exactly why we love the show with its formulaic structure that’s a throwback to Season One. Meanwhile, “Endangerous Species” puts a different take on a previously used idea and makes a grim topic such as death seem silly. I can’t think of a frequently minuscule object seen on the show to measure which episode is the better one. So, I’ll say that by how tall Kowalski was at the end of “The Big Move,” “The Big Move” is the better episode because it’s classic Penguins of Madagascar, something that newcomers and seasoned fans can both enjoy.