By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The high production values in Netflix’s All Hail King Julien certainly makes this cartoon worth paying attention to. Its CGI quality puts the animated television show Penguins of Madagascar to shame. Story wise, this show has a lot to like about how Julien inherits the throne. The series is not always about slapstick because the next ring-tailed lemur in the family has to learn how to be a proper king.
The irresponsible one viewers have come to know from the films and television series is Julien XIII (Danny Jacobs). In the past, he never learned responsibility and to be suddenly crowned by King Julien XII (Henry Winkler) is a bit of a shock to him. Even as a kid, he was a self-absorbed social misfit and party animal. He never understood about what courtly duties meant until now, and to make a series based on him learning important lessons puts this program right up there as a socially responsible show.
Although what he learns never sticks, hopefully what children will pick up on will. The focus is on him being morally incompetent. To see him get the much-needed character development makes fans of this particular franchise series understand him a bit more. But time cannot be reversed when considering the films preceded this new series. If anyone was to catch the Madagascar series anew, it’s recommended to watch the All Hail King Julien first and the Madagascar films second. The Penguins television series is technically its own world, but surprisingly, potential tie-in references are made in the episode “Enter the Fanaloka.” Karl is a usurper to the throne, perhaps foreshadowing events to come in the future where a similar looking lemur, Clemson, vies for power in the Penguins of Madagascar episode, “Right Hand Man” and “King Me.” Now if only King Julien XIII only had the penguins around, he would feel safer!
The lemurs are too occupied with having a good time with King Julien XIII around to notice the larger world around them. Strangely, there are times where he is competent enough to protect his tribe and this version of the character is less irritating than others. Yes, Skipper must be twitching by now but this show is surprisingly good. It’s watchable by not catering to Julien’s idiotic antics all the time to entertain the viewers.
To see his aide Maurice (Kevin Michael Richardson) actually serves a purpose is great. When the episodes are 23 min long, time is spent to develop these characters appropriately. Sadly, there’s not a lot of Mort (Andy Richter) to appreciate. He still provides the comedy relief, but his is not quite the court jester yet.
When the love has to come from new characters like security expert Clover (India de Beaufort) and sage Masikura (Debra Wilson) as indispensable council, this king has to learn how to foster loyalists.
Now the big question is in how often new content is going to be offered by this video streaming site? No external information can be found as to how often new episodes will be released. When considering The Adventures of Puss n Boots is sharing the spotlight, just how well Netflix’s Dreamworks acquisitions will increase membership, if not viewership, to this service will depend on how many people are willing to subscribe. Not everyone wants to buy into their television and movie delivery model.
As long as the writing and production quality remains high, and broadcast is not limited to select regions (sadly, this company is making a fuss over people streaming their service from other countries), buying into Netflix’s model is for once worth it.