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Featured TV on DVD Review: The Penguins of Madagascar: Operation Blowhole

January 9th, 2012

The Penguins of Madagascar: Operation Blowhole - Buy from Amazon

This is the fourth The Penguins of Madagascar DVD I've reviewed. In the past, I've had mixed feelings about the show. On the one hand, the four penguins, Skipper, the leader; Kowalski, the brains; Rico, the dumb one; and Private, the one that's not quite as dumb as Rico, are arguably the best part of the franchise and some of the supporting characters are quite fun. On the other hand, too often the show felt like a cheap cash-in on the success of the show. The most recent DVD releases was the best they've put out so far. Can Operation Blowhole continue this upward trend? Or will it return to being merely average?

The Show

This could be a rather short review, because there are only three episodes on this DVD, one of which, Dr. Blowhole's Revenge, was previously reviewed, so I don't need to go over it again. The second and third episodes are a two-parter, The Return of the Revenge of Doctor Blowhole, and as it is with most two-parters, it is nearly impossible to talk about the second half without entering spoiler territory. So we can really only discuss the first part of The Return of the Revenge of Doctor Blowhole, which is more set-up than plot. I guess I could treat it as a mini-movie rather than a TV episode, as TV episodes usually only warrant a two or three sentence description.

The episode starts with Skipper in Shanghai tracking down a missing weapon. However, the weapon's not there. It's a trap set-up by Hans the Puffin, who has recently escaped from the world's most inhospitable place, Hoboken. Worse still, Hans is working with Dr. Blowhole, who manages to get the jump on Skipper, hitting him with his latest super weapon, which sucks out his mind, causing him to fall into the ocean. Now there will be nothing stopping Dr. Blowhole from destroying the rest of the penguins and taking over the world.

Skipper later washes up on a beach on a deserted island all alone with none of his memories of who he is, where he is, how he got there, or how to get home. He's so confused that his mind summons several hallucinations to serve as spirit guides to help him recover. First its a penguin drill sergeant, then a monkey guru, before settling on Alex the Lion. Alex tries to help Skipper remember who he is, his team, his nemesis, and how much danger his nemesis will be to his team if he can't stop him first.

Meanwhile back at the zoo, the rest of the penguins don't realize Skipper is in trouble. As they explain to Marlene, it's not uncommon for the Skipper to go on missions by himself, but he always returns in short order. Besides, they have more important things to worry about, namely the highly unstable power cell Kowalski has invented, which, if it fell into the wrong hands, could destroy half the Eastern seaboard. If you immediately thought of Dr. Blowhole when you read "wrong hands", then you forgot about King Julian. When the battery in the mp3 player he stole from the lost and found dies on him, King Julian sneaks into penguins' lair to steal their new battery.

It is at this time the two storylines collide.

I'm again reduced to saying I have mixed feelings about this show. On the positive side, for most of the show, it was on the high end of usual quality range the cartoon has exhibited in the past. There were some great action scenes throughout the running time. The Skipper losing his memory is not an original plot device, but it was well done and was a good excuse to have one of the main characters return, even if he was performed by a different voice actor. The script did a good job balancing the three threads (Dr. Blowhole, Skipper, and Central Park Zoo). And finally, the jokes mostly hit their marks.

On the other hand, the climactic ending fell flat in my opinion, specifically the musical aspect. As soon as the characters started singing, the show screeched to a halt. It's really hard to get the tone right for musical numbers, and I'm afraid this show didn't. Also, it's a really short DVD. There are only three episodes, and one of those is a double-dip, so the price-per-minute is too high.

The Extras

There are no extras on this DVD, not unless you count the jukebox, which is on nearly every Dreamworks DVD.

The Verdict

The Penguins of Madagascar: Operation Blowhole is entertaining, for most of its running time, but the ending stumbles and it is too short to justify a whole DVD release.

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