Merry Madagascar

titleDebuted in 2009

23 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: The gang (Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria) are leaving Madagascar in a hot air balloon, bound for New York, when they are suddenly knocked out of the sky by rocks thrown by King Julien and the lemurs. As King Julien explains that they thought the balloon was the red night goblin, the goblin appears in the sky and Julien knocks it down, revealing him to be Santa, now suffering from amnesia from the fall. The gang volunteers to deliver all Santa’s presents, using the magic-dusted penguins as reindeer and they save the day.

Fun Fact: The crashed airplane where King Julien keeps all his presents (and his skeletal girlfriend Amelia) is a Lockheed Model 10 Electra, which is the same airplane that Amelia Earhart actually flew.

My thoughts: As I have mentioned before, I am not a huge fan of most Dreamworks animation. There are a few I have enjoyed, but the original Madagascar was not one of them. In fact, that was one of the ‘couldn’t make it through the whole movie’ ones. So I was not at all surprised to be unimpressed by this special, which is actually the second special to feature characters from this film franchise. The first was A Christmas Caper, featuring the penguin characters, who also wound up with their own TV show.  One of my biggest issues with this special is that most of these characters feel like more like exaggerated caricatures and overused stereotypes, so I am not invested in anything that happens to them. It’s as if someone with a sense of humor completely different from mine is telling non-stop jokes while repeatedly punching me in the shoulder and yelling, “Get it?” loudly in my ear. The original movie was pretty successful, so this special may be a big hit with those who enjoyed the movie, but for me it was just obnoxious and overblown.


It’s in the rules somewhere that every DreamWorks character has to make this face at least once.


Everyone loves a choo-choo.


Wow, Santa, that’s a serious bump on the head. Yikes.


King Julien and the other lemurs have been knocked for a loop.

Individual Superlative: Which Subplot? – In addition to the bloated plot summary above, there are also subplots involving King Julien’s made up holiday, the gang giving up their dream of returning to New York in order to save Christmas and a star-crossed romance between a reindeer and a penguin. That’s a lot for 23 minutes.

Want to Watch it? Merry Madagascar is available on DVD, some streaming services and still shows up on network television frequently during the holiday season.


Kung Fu Panda Holiday

KFP - TitleDebuted in 2010

21 minutes

Plot in 3 Sentences: Po is responsible for hosting the Winter Feast, which is a gathering of all the kung fu masters at the Jade Palace and it’s very important that he make it special. He would rather spend the holiday with his father, so he rejects all the best chefs and offers the catering job to him, but he refuses, choosing to remain at his restaurant. With the help of a (formerly disgraced) chef, Po pulls it all together but leaves the banquet to be with his father and then the other kung fu masters join them for a wonderful holiday feast.

Fun Fact: The boar that Po headbutts into unconsciousness (not a phrase often used in connection with Christmas specials) is a deleted character from Kung Fu Panda 2.

My thoughts: I’m not a huge fan of most Dreamworks animation, but I did really enjoy the first Kung Fu Panda movie. This special shares a lot in common with the movie, including a few really funny moments and a deep family connection that gives the movie a warm and tender heart. All of the voice actors from the movie came back for this special, but it’s Jack McBrayer as Wo Hop, the disgraced little bunny chef, who really stands out. When his bid to be the chef for the Winter Feast is rejected, he returns to fight Po and die an honorable death. When Po refuses to fight him, Wo Hop just focuses on the honorable death and some of his attempts to make that happen are really hilarious (if you’re the kind of person who, like me, can laugh at suicidal bunnies). The final scene, in which Master Shifu comes to the restaurant and sees all the kung fu masters enjoying a simple family meal, sends a really lovely message about life’s simple joys.

No one looks as badass setting a table as Master Mantis.

No one looks as badass setting a table as Master Mantis.

Wo Hop is not about to take this lying down.

Wo Hop is not about to take this lying down.

But, as you can see, he's fighting perhaps a little out of his weight class.

But, as you can see, he’s fighting perhaps a little out of his weight class.

My dinner parties are every bit as fancy as this.

My dinner parties are every bit as fancy as this.

Individual Superlative: Strap Yourself In – When Po is trying to pull the feast together by himself, the scenes switch by so fast that it kind of makes you a little dizzy watching it. Wait 30 minutes after eating before you watch it, just to be safe.

Want to Watch it? Kung Fu Panda Holiday is available on DVD and Blu-ray. You can also watch it on YouTube or catch it in on TV during the holiday season.