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Kung Fu Panda at Nick

I was, and still am, a huge fan of Dreamworks Kung Fu Panda. But the announcement today of the a new Nickelodeon TV series based on the movie has saddened me.

If ever there was a character with the potential to fuel a series of theatrical sequels, it’s Po. I don’t expect Jack Black to be providing the voice and personality of the character for the TV version.

A TV series poised to appear before the second film (now in production) seems like a business decision based more on a way to make some fast cash, rather than a sincere effort to nurture a worthy property. Going to series doesn’t neccesarily negate the possibility of further theatricals, but it sure cheapens the franchise.

Couldn’t Nick have been simply based a series on the Panda’s co-stars, The Furious Five?

  • Absolutely, The Furious Five would have been a better idea for a series, or maybe a prequel based on the character of Tai Lung, or Master Shifu.

  • Let’s hope and pray that will be done in the style of Secrets of the Furious Five. The Madagascar series looks like fail.

  • Jennifer

    Madagascar (the series) definitely doesn’t look as good as the films, but it’s been the hottest show on Nick since Spongebob. (NYT article had stats.)

    I might be wrong, but most of the animated shows based on movies can’t compare to the source material, at least when looking at animation quality. (I’m basing my thoughts on Timon & Pumbaa, Aladdin, etc.) Are there any that surpass the quality of the original movie?

  • Someone

    I can’t wait to see the next installment of Kung-Fu Panda!

    But not like this, not like this.

  • Tim Hodge

    Most TV versions of films don’t fare so well. Remember the short lived “My Big Fat Greek Life” based on “BFG Wedding”? What, 4 episodes? They even tried a Butch and Sundance TV show without much success. M*A*S*H is one of the rare exceptions where the TV version was as successful as the film.

    In our animated world, I remember that “Lilo & Stitch” had a good run as a series, as well as “Aladdin” and Winnie the Pooh. The Buzz Lightyear series had a couple of seasons, didn’t it? Though I don’t remember it as quite as popular as some.

    I’m glad to see that “The Penguins of Madagascar” is doing well.

    And, no, TV budgets can never support the look of a feature film. The turn around time is just too short. So you try and make the episodes as strong as possible story-wise.

    Maybe if “Ice Age 3” does well, Scrat will get a show.

  • Jason

    In the next installment of KFP, I’d love it if Tai Lung would return…and try to redeem himself. He was the coolest thing about KFP.

    But I hope he doesn’t become a recurrent villain in the series. That would blow.

  • a reader

    I don’t see this as cheapening the film franchise at all. Perhaps in the days of, at most, 4 networks plus a syndicated channel or two it might have, but now?
    The teen/adult audience that made Panda a BIG hit will stlll go see a sequel(assuming that it looks as great as the first one, the trailer is appealing etc.). They’ll have little to no awareness of what’s on Nick for kids. Hell, I have very little idea of the cartoon titles on CN and Nick now and I work in the business. The ones I do know I haven’t seen.
    There was a 2D Buzz Lightyear TV series, wasn’t there? Did that have the least impact on the Toy Story features in any negative(or any other) way? No.
    I wouldn’t worry about it.

  • maybe if it was a miniseries?
    some cool explosive well made adventure that spans across 8-13 episodes.

    we can hope!

  • While saddening and pathetic, it shouldn’t be surprising. This is DreamWorks we’re talking about: Anything that would seem fitting to get more dollars, that has already proved its’ worth in the box office, they will do it. Shrek will have Shrek 4 and 5 coming out. Madagascar 3 is going to be in the works, with the Penguins having their own show on Nickelodeon already (and the animation is horrible). Kung Fu Panda already had the Furious Five special on DVD, now this series deal, along with the sequel…I’m still wondering if they will announce a Monsters vs. Aliens sequel…:/ I hope not.

    Besides, DreamWorks is run by Jeffrey Katzenberg….the cash cow master. So I wouldn’t be surprised that he would go with this deal.

  • >>In the next installment of KFP, I’d love it if Tai Lung would return…and try to redeem himself. He was the coolest thing about KFP.
    But I hope he doesn’t become a recurrent villain in the series. That would blow.>>

    Wasn’t Tai Lung basically killed at the end of the first one? I’d also prefer that he were still alife, I am not a fan of villains getting killed, it’s kind of a death penalty thing.

    I don’t know about the tv series. I’m more concerned about the feature sequels. I also believe this is a movie that could have good sequels, unlike some Pixar movies that wouldn’t need a sequel (most obviously Wall-E, but I also believe it’s a mistake to do Monsters Inc. 2). KFP could work, though, but DWKS doesn’t have a great trak reccord with the sequels. Shrek sequels doesn’t have very interesting stories and Madagascar 2 was a little forced too IMO. Let’s hope they do something better with Po.

    And about the tv series, it would be cool if they do them in 2D. I only watched a little of the Penguins of Madagascar series and I found it very boring visually. The cheap-version 3D is really not interesting at all.

  • you don’t have to go any further than that amazingly bad Madagascar series to see what Panda will become.

    Most of the voice cast will be bad impressions it will simply be empty.

    Not that the second Mad movie wasn’t bad already…oh well.

  • Ty

    You know, I would hope that this is produced with respect to the film, but I doubt it.

    Although, it would be nice to see the series done similar to the intro of kung fu panda. In that 2d/flash sequence.

  • noooo! If I ever make a successful film, the is my promise to never sell myself out for television, sequels, or the likes of a cash opportunity if it doesn’t succeed the original storytelling.

  • a reader

    The Dreamworks kneejerk hate is so, so tiresome.

  • Bob Funn

    Oh no! a TV series that kids want to see is getting made!

  • I couldn’t agree more. In a time where most studios are watching their laurels and trying to find a way to work more toward a better product instead of mass marketing and delivering something in a quick state of mind . . . this is a bad idea in a looooonnnnngggg stream of bad ideas. You have FINALLY created something that is SO VERY WORTHY of deserving an ACADEMY AWARD . . . don’t flush it away in order to grab a few more of the “younger” audience members. They will be there for the opening of the next sequel . . . better not to be the first in line at McDonald’s to get the 20ç toy from the © Happy Meal. Have some class and enjoy the sucess by pushing a better product. HOWEVER, the Penguins series . . .is actually quite impressive so far. The best 3D T.V. I have seen and I have worked on a few! So it could go well, they have been on a good steak . . . we shall see!

  • “a business decision based more on a way to make some fast cash” – uhm, what’s wrong with that? The whole film was just done because of that. Or would anybody like to tell me that it’s about asian values and culture and it’s a shame that these … wait, no, that was this other series.

    The whole panda film was just a bit better than I expected, but not something I wanted a second helping of. So I don’t care if they do a sequel, a prequel, or a quel-whatever of it.

  • Dreamworks making money from animation sounds like a good idea. Pixar do it all the time…

  • Chris J.

    Yeah, I can’t say I’ve got a serious beef with Dreamworks trying to cash in a la Penguins (which is a pretty damn funny series, by the way)

    I too would have preferred a Furious Five series, in order not to dilute Po, but what the hey – it’s not like we’re talking about Akira or Howl’s Moving Castle, etc. I mean, I enjoyed the hell out of KFP (more than Wall-E, to be frank) but it was a lighthearted populist affair, after all, that happened to be elevated to greatness due to the efforts of its creators.

    And yeah, I’m all for the KFP sequel being about Tai Lung’s redemption. My three year old LOVES KFP and Tai Lung is her favorite character (she likes to roar).

  • Why is there so much contempt for the idea of studios “wanting to make money?” Don’t we all? If studios don’t make money, then neither do we, the employees.

    Maybe I’ve just been around for too long and I finally realize not everything we’re ever going to produce is going to be the Mona Lisa, or something that hits 100% every single time without fail.

    A career in animation requires some sacrifice and understanding about what it takes to successfully pull in a profit and keeps things moving..meaning..keeping artists busy.

    It also helps to try to gain some personal satisfaction in the every day challenges of what it takes to get these shows out, and how much you as an individual have learned and accomplished along the way. The journey then becomes more meaningful and personal. You don’t have to keep wondering why certain properties are “exploited” or why studios seem to be so “greedy.”

    It’s a fine line to dance between maintaining integrity and maintaining a mortgage. Turn ALL opportunities into a learning experience.

  • At least it’s animated. A live action “Kung Fu Panda” over at Cartoon Network would have been much worse.

  • Nickelodeon oughtta adjust the title of the TV series to KUNG FU PANDERERS.



  • I find it somewhat comical that Nick and Dreamworks are attached at the hip. I realized this when Pixar/Disney didn’t pickup one Nick Choice Awards, where all of Dreamworks films/characters were recognized. Not that the Nick Teen Choice Awards are the symbol of accomplishment, but it opened my eyes to their corporate alliance. I agree wholeheartedly with Jerry. It saddens me that Nick is playing it safe with their development pipeline. First Penguins and now this. I want some good, old-fashion cartoons! Nick is MUCH better than this.

  • Tom Minton

    But a live action “Kung Fu Panda” shot in black and white with actors in wool suits supplied by Monogram Pictures costume department might be just the ticket.

  • >>Why is there so much contempt for the idea of studios “wanting to make money?” Don’t we all? >>

    Yeah, but they can do money with a good or a bad product. I think the penguins are the funniest characters of Madagascar but unlike others what I’ve seen of the show seemed pretty poor to me, at least visually. If they can do a cool looking tv series with Po then it’s ok, but Jerry is right, making the series about the Furious Five would probably be a little better. If they overuse Po, who is an already effusive character they have the potential to kill his appeal.

    It’s true that the Buzz Lightyear tv series didn’t have any influence on the Toy Story movies whatsoever, though.

    Timon and Pumbaa animated series was sometimes entertaining but they kinda diminished my esteem for the characters. Not that a well done Timon and Pumbaa series was a bad idea, in fact it could have been fantastic, but this kind of products are usually a little sub-par compared to the original thing. Anyway if KFP series have the same quality of the Timon and Pumbaa series it won’t probably be the worst of the scenarios. As I said it was far from great, but it was entertaining. And it looked less stiff than The Penguins Of Madagascar.

  • Dave K

    Enough with the knee-jerk haters. So far, the Penguins tv show (the first partnership between DW and Nick) has carried the torch pretty well with those characters. Are there certain limitations, given the smaller television budgets? Yes. But is it animated well? Yes. Are the stories entertaining and well structured? Yes. Are the characters true to their source material? Yes. Then, why doesn’t everyone step back, and wait to see if this same respect for the original material is given to KFP. If it isn’t worthy, then give ’em hell. Meanwhile, maybe all the whiners out there could express a little relief that there are more jobs being sprinkled about for their long unemployed friends.

  • “Couldn’t Nick have been simply based a series on the Panda’s co-stars, The Furious Five?”

    That’s a good idea, although we got a direct-to-video 2D / 3D prequel set around them when “Panda” arrived on DVD. Still that could be a better idea than just having Po fight enemies like samurai statues, devil gods, and evil rice balls of doom.

  • Brent

    Give that Rice Ball of Doom a variety show, with a house band and a monologue, and it will beat Leno.

  • Tom

    I think what the people here who don’t like this idea are really saying is that Po worked his way into their hearts a little more than the Penguins or Shrek. Seeing Po get overexposed like this is a little bit of a let down, but his was, to many, the best film DW has ever put together. Basing a series on their best doesn’t seem like that bad an idea.

  • Franklin

    If it were on the CN they would have made a prequel series about the life of Tai Lung as a lovable teenage student of martial arts.

  • Couldn’t Nick have been simply based a series on the Panda’s co-stars, The Furious Five?

    That actually would be a really great idea and would prevent the issue of needing another voice for Po.

    Also never underestimate the ‘early years show’ then they won’t need the voice.

    Still it all bests a Shrek show, that would have truly been horrible.

  • Johnnie

    For starters, the Penguins on Nick is hilarious. Second, the animation is pretty darn good looking for a television show. Thirdly, they were the funniest thing going in Madagascar and although a movie with just these characters are too much, a tv show is perfect.

    Unfortunately KFP tv show is too early. They should either wait until all the sequels are released or use some characters other than PO. Personally, I didn’t care about the Furious Five. Boring. Tai Lung maybe.

    I can’t fault DWA for trying to make some $$$. A business is a business. You do what you can.

    You whollier than thou artiste types need to get off the gonja and see reality for what it is.

  • Zboythunda

    I for one disagree bc the movie isn’t just enough 4 me. I need more kungfu panda

  • Black Rose

    i havent seen kung fu panda2… yet or secrets of the furious 5 but i love kung fu panda i watch it every single nite jack is perfect as po id say just perfect