Unpacking the Deliciousness of the Donkey Kong Country TV Show

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There will be no structure or rhythm to the make of this post. It will simply exist in whatever shape it desires. Much can be said similarly of the topic today: Donkey Kong Country (the television series).

In 1997, Nintendo decided they wanted a TV show for their latest craze in Donkey Kong Country. They decided to hand the keys to a French-Canadian group of animators (which changed somewhat sporadically, according to Wikipedia) and they were set to release episodes for the world to see. This show, only loosely based on the original games, ended up being quite the thing.

I watched this show very minimally as a small child, but I assure everyone reading that it was not for a lack of trying. By the time I knew this show even existed, it was near the end of its run around 2000. I would have to wake up at four in the morning just to catch an episode on a local television station. Otherwise, I often rented an episode of the show from Blockbuster Video(?) when I was in my tweenage years, again not aware that VHS productions of the show even existed.

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It wasn’t until now, at the ripe age of 25, that I finally gave the series a proper viewing. It had been many years—perhaps a decade—since I had seen a full episode of the show, but the internet has kindly provided some additional sources of whimsy. I knew full well going in that DKC was not well-received by the general audience, and many consider it a really shitty showing. There are more than enough Youtube videos showcasing all the issues the series had.

My take is quite simple: DKC is great. I am watching the series with my brother, who is also enjoying his time with it quite fondly. For those suspicious of my claim, you have seen through my facade to only a minimal degree. DKC is truly great… ironically. While not a total buffet of terribad, there has not been a single episode my brother and I have watched thus far (20 episodes in) where we did not burst out laughing at least once. Much of it has to do with the animation; some of our own twisted imagination. The writing, however, is probably the least entertaining and the dragging leg of the series.

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Don’t ask what’s happening. Just accept it.

To anyone at least slightly curious about going into this series, know that it was written for small children. This is essentially the type of show that one would expect to see on something like PBS Kids or Nick Jr. Even the Youtube channel that provides full episodes, Treehouse Direct UK, has it listed with shows such as Max and RubyMaggie and the Ferocious Beast, and Rolie Polie Olie, all shows I, at ten-years-old, regarded as cartoons “for babies.” As such, the writing is not going to be complex in the slightest. Better yet, one can readily expect it to be conveniently illogical.

King K. Rool wants to get the crystal coconut because it’s the ultimate power source but it’s being protected by Donkey Kong and every episode King K. Rool hatches a scheme to get the crystal coconut but by the end of it all he doesn’t get it because his plan fails or because his henchmen are dumb and bad and evil never wins or something. Fun fact: King K. Rool actually gets the crystal coconut on a few occasions, but then does fuck-all with it until the Kongs somehow retrieve it. That’s the kind of writing this show has—conveniently illogical.

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Sometimes characters are shown closer to the camera than this.

While making fun of the holes in the plot can offer some sweet fun, it’s the animation that acts as the selling point. I cannot describe it in any other way than “bizarre.” Clearly outdated is one thing, it transcends the expectations one would have of computer animation by going haywire in completely random places. At the same time, the animators seemed to have a “Don’t ever have them not moving” clause in their contracts, because these characters can almost never sit still. When Diddy Kong laughs, he’s jumping around and flailing his arms for no reason. When King K. Rool is giving a grandiose speech, he’s moving his eyebrows up and down rapidly and twirling in his stance. It is magical.

That all is intentional, though. In 1997, computer animation was far from a perfected craft, and the unexpected glitches are in full view with this series. Pupils popping out of characters’ eyes. Lumps clipping out of characters’ chests. Donkey/Bluster/Funky Kong’s thighs are so huge that it makes their asses super thicc. Bluster Kong has the same color of skin on his face that he does for most of his head, so it looks like he’s just one big mesh of play-doh. Characters’ expressions are incredibly robotic, normally switching from one expression to another on the fly. Donkey Kong is horny one moment, then molds his face to be surprised, then goes right back!

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When you assemble all these measures of inadequacy and gather a team of writers who are, for the most part, incompetent (out of 20 episodes, I’ve seen 2 that I would consider “not bad”), you make something really special. To be fair, I don’t know if this would all be as “well-received” with me if it wasn’t related to Donkey Kong, but for what it’s worth, knowing that it is related to Donkey Kong makes it all the funnier. DKC has this really strange quality to it where it ends up being recommendable for all the wrong reasons, yet still recommendable.

Banana Slamma, as they say. DKC does absolutely nothing for the sanctity of its source material, nor does it do anything for itself to separate it from better TV shows at the time. From what I’ve watched so far, I don’t even know if the writers had any idea what to do with it. Carrying a slice-of-life-esque nature is one thing, but the recurrent “King K. Rool devises a plan to get the crystal coconut” plot really gets old after the first few times. I joked to my brother that the writers played the first level of Donkey Kong Country (video game) and called it a day. Otherwise, they did whatever they wanted.

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Krusha (left) is my favorite character.

Fun fact: There is one marijuana joke made in the series that blew me the fuck away. That is probably the most I can say for the show overall: various, sporadic moments just blow me the fuck away (in an ironically good way). That is what makes the show recommendable (and please, bring company).

Have you seen this series before? Did you even know it existed? What did you think of it if you have?

Thank you for your time. Have a great day.

3 thoughts on “Unpacking the Deliciousness of the Donkey Kong Country TV Show

  1. Ah, the early days of CG. A very interesting time to say the least. I remember this show. That’s all I can really say, it existed and the way they moved when dancing was strange.

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