Cathode Ray Mission: KUNG FU DINO POSSE (2010)

CanTV expert Cameron Archer navigates the often inhospitable landscape of Canadian television for the CATHODE RAY MISSION, our regular blog column that highlights some of Canadian television’s most offbeat offerings.

I don’t usually talk about recent Canadian shows for this column, since they either aren’t obscure yet, haven’t proven their worth to a worldwide audience or simply don’t belong on Canuxploitation. However, KUNG FU DINO POSSE (CITV, 2010- ) does — it’s a Canadian cartoon that is persona non grata to Canadian television, despite recieving many tax credits. Sadly, KUNG FU DINO POSSE,  which has a 2009 copyright date, is worse than its name implies.

The Basic Formula

Four anthropomorphic dinosaurs — tyrannohuman Kane (Matthew Gorman), tricerahuman Lucy (Laura Kolisnyk), pteranohuman Jet (Brent Hirose), and stegohuman Chow (Nolan Balzer) — are revived in a present-day city. They know kung fu (of course), and they live and work in a museum. Two humans, Edgar Chudley (Simon Miron) and Polly (Amy Tang), help the Kung Fu Dino Posse in their battles against the evil Skor (Carey Smith) and Skrap (Kevin Michele) .

The overall premise is a variation on EXTREME DINOSAURS (syndicated, 1996) and DINO SQUAD (CBS/KEWLopolis, 2007-09), in which good dinosaurs fight a villain, usually a raptor. For KUNG FU DINO POSSE, the lead villains, Skor and Skrap, are called “raptors”, but they’re actually dilophohumans. No matter, KUNG FU DINO POSSE throws lampshades on things like “accuracy.”

The Weird Bits

It’s a TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (Syndicated, 1987-93; CBS, 1990-96; 4Kids TV/The CW4Kids, 2003-09; Nickelodeon, 2012- ) variant, in 2009. The show’s creator is Peter M. Lenkov, who’s better known in television for the HAWAII FIVE-0 revival (CBS, 2010- ), and CSI: NY (CBS, 2004- ). Lenkov’s other recent cartoon is METAJETS, which Teletoon officially debuted in fall 2011. While METAJETS has bounced on and off Teletoon’s schedule for a few years, no one in Canada has touched KUNG FU DINO POSSE. It’s never a good sign when a completed show — of forty episodes — can’t find an immediate home in its originating country.

From what I’ve seen of KUNG FU DINO POSSE  (i.e., one and a half episodes; any more would be torture) it’s a show that knows it’s stupid. Unfortunately, KUNG FU DINO POSSE lets you know how postmodern it is, as the show constantly sends itself up. KUNG FU DINO POSSE covers up its brainfarts by coughing every single minute.

Let’s Attempt to Watch

First up is a Cookie Jar Entertainment teaser for the series. Keep in mind, this show compares itself to TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and JUSTICE LEAGUE (Cartoon Network, 2001-04; Cartoon Network, 2004-06 as JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED). KUNG FU DINO POSSE throws rocks at men with machine guns.

In the next clip, take note of the choppy animation. That’s not YouTube dropping frames. Dutchboyasaurus–see what I mean about the send-ups? Imagine this five-minute clip expanded to four times its length. That’s KUNG FU DINO POSSE. I realize this is entertainment for grade-school children, but KUNG FU DINO POSSE will likely hold up the way HAMMERMAN (ABC, 1991) holds up in 2012.


Cultural Legacy

It’s a South Korea/Germany/Canada/Singapore co-production between Cookie Jar Entertainment, Sunwoo Korea, Optix Entertainment, and Sunwoo Singapore. In the United Kingdom, CITV airs the show, while Starz Kids & Family airs the show in the United States. Wikipedia claims KUNG FU DINO POSSE‘s Canadian debut, on YTV, as December 1, 2011. I see nothing that verifies this “fact,” so I call shenanigans.

It’s hard to list cultural legacies for this recent a cartoon property — KUNG FU DINO POSSE is about as original as a grocery chain’s off-brand version of Dr. Pepper. DINOSAURS FOR HIRE, a 1980s/1990s comic book series, shares KFDP‘s sense of humour, and is almost as blatantly stupid. THE ADVENTURES OF T-REX (syndicated, 1992-93), a Japan/United States co-production between Kitty Films and DiC, has five tyrannohumans fight crime and… perform vaudeville routines. DINOSAUCERS (syndicated, 1987-88) has dinohumans fight each other, throughout space.

But the reason for KUNG FU DINO POSSE‘s existence is simple — it’s an animated property created by a successful live-action producer. Peter M. Lenkov is Canadian, but that means nothing. SAMURAI PIZZA CATS (syndicated, 1990-91) destroyed the market for TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES send-ups a couple of decades ago, and SAMURAI PIZZA CATS was a patched-together gag dub of KYATTO NINDEN TEYANDEE. In 2012, KUNG FU DINO POSSE is a throwback to an extinct trope.

Dutchboyasaurus. Just…that.

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