I watched more TV before than I do now, and now I pretty much watch only the Food Network programs unless of course it is football season, and then I watch only the NFL and the Food Network. But before, when I did watch more TV, I would generally only watch the comedy shows unless of course there was a Star Trek incarnation about, then I pretty much watched only whatever Star Trek was on and the comedy shows. Then again there was the British comedy phase too, and then I would watch Benny Hill, Monty Python, the latest morphing of Star Trek and the comedy shows. If you consider M.A.S.H more of a drama than a comedy, then of course back them I would watch pretty much only Benny Hill, Monty Python, Star Trek, the comedy shows and M.A.S.H. Nor, I have to admit, did I ever miss an episode of X-Files. Or I, Claudius ... Love in a Cold Climate ... To Serve Them All My Days ... all the Masterpiece Theater productions actually. Now however if there is no arugula or blast chiller I just can't seem to find the time to watch.
Let me say here that I never watched more than a handful of Marcus Welby, M.D. episodes, nor have I ever watched a single episode of Jersey Shore.
The comedy shows that I liked best -- Carol Burnet Show, Cheers, Taxi, The 2000 Presidential Election -- all were shows that featured a strong cast of supporting characters that were more often than not just as interesting as the "star" of the show. Think of Taxi. There were some great characters to come out of that show: Latka Gravas, Jim Ignatowski, Louis De Palma, Simka Gravas. The show was infinitely watchable because the cast was never boring. Madagascar 3 follows in this tradition. Yes, there are Alex the Lion and Marty the Zebra, but the cast surrounding them are really what makes this movie work. King Julien, the Monkeys and the Penguins, and all the rest make this a multifaceted story.
Alex the Lion is homesick for his glory days as the star of the New York zoo. He wants to return there. To do that, he believes he must have the help of his former companions in adventure, the Penguins, who with the Monkeys are off in the casinos of Monte Carlo making their fortune. In a botched attempt to "extract" the Penguins from the casino, the entire group runs afoul of Monaco's Animal Control Officer Chantal Dubois. Trying to make their way to New York, they have to stay a step ahead of the relentless Dubois. They find themselves holed up in a failing circus. If the circus can impress a promoter, they have a shot at the trip to America. It falls to Alex to try to breathe life into the moribund band and get himself and his new friends to the States.
Madagascar 3 is pretty darn close to flawless. It is well written and the animation is beautiful. The returning characters have matured nicely into a smooth and agreeable synergy. The new characters, the animals of the circus in which our heroes take refuge, integrate well into the cast. And then there is Chantal Dubois. I do not know if there is an Oscar category for character creation, but whoever is responsible for coming up with Dubois needs an Oscar for creative genius. I'll go on record here as saying that if they make an Adventures of Chantal Dubois spin off series from this character, I will go see it twice and take a friend as well.
Funny, entertaining, cute, wonderful, ginchy, whatever superlatives you want to heap on the pile, this movie really does deliver. The New Golden Age of Animation continues to unfold.