Tag: The Penguins of Madagascar

Whither Darnell? A mystery about A&E’s “The Cleaner” is resolved!

Given that the A&E drama “The Cleaner” only lasted for two seasons, it’s probable that there aren’t a great number of people who are clamoring for the answer to this question, but for those of you who did watch the series throughout its run, I’d like a show of hands if you wondered what happened to the character of Darnell McDowell – played by Kevin Michael Richardson – after the first season.

Not that Richardson hasn’t got more than enough work to keep himself busy: he’s one of the most prolific voice actors in the animation business. At present, you probably know him best as the voice of Cleveland, Jr. on Fox’s “The Cleveland Show,” but he’s also the voice of Maurice on “The Penguins of Madagascar,” turns up with some regularity on “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” (he voices Black Manta, B’Wana Beast, and – yes! – Detective Chimp), and, on a related note, did an admirable job of stepping into Mark Hamill’s shoes as The Joker on “The Batman.” But, still, I love the guy, I thought his character on “The Cleaner” was interesting, and when Season 2 of the series premiered and he wasn’t on it, I noticed.

I ran into Richardson briefly last year at the TCA Press Tour, and I asked him what happened. In truth, he seemed pleased that someone had even noticed his absence, but as far as the reason why he’d been written out of the show, he didn’t really have much of an answer, short of saying that he’d gotten the impression that the writers had kind of hit a brick wall as far as knowing what to do with the character of Darnell.

Okay, fair enough: I understand how the business works, and I also understand that shows evolve and characters originally intended to be series mainstays unexpectedly become superfluous. While screening “The Cleaner: The Final Season” in order to write my review of the DVD set, however, I remembered the biggest reason why I’d been so annoyed with Darnell’s departure: not only was he written out of the show, but there wasn’t even so much as a mention of Darnell, let alone any sort of clarification as to his ultimate fate. Given everything that he went through with the team during the course of Season 1, this seemed like the kind of oversight that would really irk fans of the show…like, say, me…so I did what any self-respecting journalist would do: I went on Facebook, found the page for the show’s head writer, Jonathan Prince, and asked A) why Darnell was written out of the show, and B) why there was no reference to his departure from the show.

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TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “The Penguins of Madagascar”

Although I have a wonderful daughter, I would not begin to claim that she’s quite ready to embark on a regular schedule of seeing movies in the theater. She’s getting there, having successfully sat through both “The Simpsons Movie” and “Kung Fu Panda,” but she really burned me when we had to get up 15 minutes into “Horton Hears a Who” (she was big on Horton, but not so much on the Whos), and, unfortunately for her, it’s the latter experience that I tend remember when it comes to considering taking her out for an afternoon at the picture show. As a result, I’m not really up on my “Madagascar” mythos…well, except to know that David Medsker disliked the second movie so much that he gave his screener DVD to to my daughter just to get it the hell out of his house. But what can I tell you? The kid and I watched it, and maybe it’s just because I hadn’t seen the first one and had nothing with which to compare it, but I kind of enjoyed it.

I’m guessing, therefore, that I will also probably enjoy the new Nickelodeon spin-off series, “The Penguins of Madagascar,” since it seems to maintain the same general kind of humor as the films.

Jeffrey Katzenberg was proud enough of the series to turn up and introduce it personally, though he quickly made it clear that his only interest was to praise the show and the franchise which spawned it, because when he was asked if the show was perhaps a sign that TV and the movie industry were becoming more closely intertwined, he merely blinked and began, “So the reason why I’m so excited about ‘The Penguins’ TV series…”

Katzenberg quickly laughed, but his eventual answer wasn’t terribly illuminating. “‘Madagascar 2’ was the Number 1 film released in the last quarter of 2008,” he said. “It’s done outstanding business here and around the rest of the world, and I think we’re just excited about being able to broaden the franchise and move these beloved characters, these core characters of the penguins, onto Nickelodeon. I don’t think it changes our distribution opportunity.”

Boring, Jeffrey, boring.

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