Donkey Kong Country (television series)
Donkey Kong Country is a Canadian-French-Chinese computer-animated television series based upon the video game trilogy of the same name. The program first debuted in France on September 4, 1996, on France 2, and then premiered in Canada on Télétoon on September 8, 1997 as a launch programme. The English version made its worldwide debut in Canada on Télétoon's English counterpart Teletoon on October 17, 1997, once again as a launch programme. The show then aired in United States on the Fox Family Channel on August 15, 1998 (occasionally airing on Fox Kids), and the original run finished on July 7, 2000.
Donkey Kong Country ran for two seasons with forty episodes total. Like the Mario-based television series before it, this show generally followed an episodic format. During the run, however, there were some episodes aired out of order from the original airing, such as "Bad Hair Day" being aired as the third episode in its run in the United States despite airing first in France. The second season was produced by Chinese company Hong Gaung instead of Medialab, and so switched to a newer, sleeker style of computer animation and dropping the use of title cards for the intro to each episode. Also similar to the earlier Mario cartoons, each episode (excluding "Message in a Bottle Show") also features one or two original songs based around events in the episode performed by the cast.
Donkey Kong Country was one of the earliest television series to be entirely computer-animated, matching the artistic style of the video games. The CG animation style of the series was met with critical acclaim in France and Japan, but with mixed reception elsewhere. Despite this, the show has managed to gain a cult following, and even Nintendo itself has acknowledged its existence.
Some elements of the series appeared in later Donkey Kong video games such as Donkey Kong 64, which was released a year after the show had started airing on ABC Family (Fox Family). There was even a commercial for the Game Boy Color remake of the original Donkey Kong Country video game that featured Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and Rambi the Rhino (despite the fact that no Animal Friends actually appear in the show) fighting General Klump and Krusha over a giant version of the portable gaming system, all depicted with retooled versions of their designs from the show's third season.
The show portrays Donkey Kong, an anthropomorphic ape living in the jungle who happens to stumble upon a magic orb called the Crystal Coconut in the temple of Inka Dinka Doo. After finding the coconut, Donkey Kong is named the future ruler of Kongo Bongo Island. As he and his friends wait for the day when the Crystal Coconut will proclaim him the ruler of the island, they have to keep the relic safe from the clutches of King K. Rool and his minions, who desire the coconut so that their leader may rule the island using its power instead.
The series features almost all of the Kongs from Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, the exceptions being Swanky Kong and Wrinkly Kong. However, the show also features several characters exclusive to the TV series, such as Eddie the Mean Old Yeti, Kaptain Skurvy and his crew, and Bluster Kong.
Donkey Kong Planet
In addition to the animated series, Donkey Kong hosted on France 2 Donkey Kong Planet (also known as La planète de Donkey Kong, DKTV and DKTV.cool), which was a mix of children programming and original content featuring part of the Donkey Kong Country TV cast. The original segments featured Donkey, Diddy, Funky, and Candy doing musical numbers, parodies of current movies and television shows, and comedic sketches. It debuted on September 4, 1996, the same day the Donkey Kong Country TV series premiered, and the block continued its run on the channel until September 1, 2001.
Donkey Kong Country was the first full-length television series to be entirely animated using motion capture, using Medialab's proprietary technology which allowed the animators to see the performance play out in real time. This caused controversy when the show was rejected for an Emmy Award nomination, the reasoning being that the TV academy did not consider the then-new motion capture technique to be a form of animation. This technique, however, came with many challenges: writer Simon Racioppa explained that due to the format's limitation, the series bible heavily discouraged new locations and characters, and characters could not be animated picking up objects (although them holding objects was possible). Animating water was also considered "next to impossible".
According to a post on a fan page by Nelvana writer Erika Strobel, Medialab had originally obtained the rights to create an animated series from Nintendo. After thirteen episodes were written, Medialab asked Nelvana for assistance after firing the original writers (who, according to Strobel, had produced scripts "with racist/sexist jokes and just sooo bad for a kiddie show"). As storyboards had already been produced for ten of the original scripts, Nelvana decided to write new stories around these storyboards to save money. The songs, however, were included at the request of Medialab; all of the show's songs, as well as the title theme, were written by Pure West Music. Nelvana purchased the rights to the show after Medialab's license lapsed.
Alongside the opening theme, most episodes in the series feature two unique songs each, performed by one or more characters to illustrate certain points in the story.
Theme song lyrics
Donkey Kong Country was produced by Nelvana, and co-produced with Medialab for the first season, and Hong Guang Animation for the second season. The first season was animated by Medialab and the second by an uncredited CGCG Inc.. The soundtrack of the series was composed by the music production company Pure West.
Releases and other merchandise
Four episodes were released in North America on a single VHS cassette titled, Donkey Kong Country: The Legend of the Crystal Coconut. Said episodes were edited together to make them seem like one continuous storyline. However, these episodes were not put together in the proper order; for example, a flashback shown in the third episode actually happened in the fourth episode of the tape. The American version of the tape was distributed by Paramount Pictures, Nintendo, and Nelvana. Advertisements and even the videotape's packaging neglected to mention the actual TV series the episodes originated from, and was instead marketed as a standalone film (leading to some confusion among newer viewers of certain content, such as Eddie the Mean Old Yeti's brief appearance in Ape-Nesia).
The show is also available on iTunes.
The DVDs Donkey Kong Country Vol.1 (Released in Australia) and Donkey Kong Country - Bad Hair Day (Released in the United Kingdom) feature several episodes. The other two Australian DVDs, Donkey Kong Country: Hooray for Holly Kongo Bongo and Donkey Kong Country: The Kongo Bongo Festival of Lights, however, only feature one episode. Three years after the release of the previous DVDs, a new DVD titled I Spy With My Hairy Eye was released in England. There have been over 30 Donkey Kong Country DVD releases. Starting in 2013, Phase 4 Films began releasing the show on DVD in North America. On May 12, 2015, the company released the first season of 26 episodes in a 3-disc set. Nelvana once had the entire series available for free streaming on its official YouTube channel, until it was turned into the official Wayside channel.
The show had a large line of merchandise in Japan, including a collectible card game by Nintendo and Ahomaro Games. A subsequent release of the card series featured characters and gimmicks based on Donkey Kong 64. The television series took over the TV Tokyo Friday 6:30 P.M. timeslot from Gokudo, and was later replaced with Hamtaro. As with most programs in Japan, the show has received home releases through rental tapes.
DVDs and one VHS were also released:
References in later media