March 03, 2018


(CBS, September 8-December 1, 1984)

Ruby-Spears Productions

David Mendenhall – Joey Kangaroo
Mea Martineau – Katy Kangaroo
Marvin Kaplan – Sidney Squirrel
Arthur Burghardt – Mr. Friendly
Pat Fraley – Bingo, Bango
Frank Welker – Bongo, Fred, various

Kangaroo was an arcade platform game developed by Sun Electronics (aka Sunsoft) in 1982. It was one of the first games similar to Donkey Kong without being a direct knock-off. The game was licensed for release by Atari, who later ported it to their home consoles after the arcade proved to be a success.

In the game, the player was a mother kangaroo with boxing gloves that had to rescue her joey from a gang of monkeys. Consisting of four levels, the player had to navigate the kangaroo up to the top section of the level to progress to the next one. On each level, the monkeys would throw apples at her which she either had to jump over, duck under or hit with her gloves. If she came face-to-face with one of the monkeys she could punch them out; which was necessary on the third level to prevent five from climbing up a tree and unleashing a horde of apples. However, a big ape would appear and attempt to take her gloves from her. The object was to complete the level within the time allotted. Like Donkey Kong, once the four levels are played through they repeated with increased difficulty. Adding to that difficulty was the lack of a jump button. Instead, players pushed “up” on the joystick to make the kangaroo jump.

The arcade flyer for Kangaroo.

Around the time of the game’s release, CBS was looking to get in on the video game craze and to combat ABC’s Pac-Man produced by Hanna-Barbera. Figuring to hedge their bets, they licensed several gaming properties and commissioned former Hanna-Barbera employees Joe Ruby and Ken Spears to handle it through their company Ruby-Spears Productions.

The resulting series was Saturday Supercade. Making up the Supercade every week were segments based on Frogger, Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr., while Q*Bert and Pitfall! rotated weekly. The series performed well enough for a second season, however some changes were made. Donkey Kong and Q*Bert, now weekly, remained while two new features were added to the line-up: Space Ace and Kangaroo.

Katy and Joey.

Kangaroo was a loose adaptation of the arcade’s premise. A mother kangaroo named Katy (Mea Martineau), her son Joey (David Mendenhall) and their squirrel friend Sidney (Marvin Kaplan) all resided in zoo run by Mr. Friendly (Arthur Burghardt). However, life there was often complicated by the Monkeybiz Gang (a play on “monkey business”) comprised of Bingo, Bango (both Pat Fraley), Bongo and Fred (both Frank Welker) who liked to cause trouble and escape from the zoo (Bingo, Bango, Bongo is also the name of a golf game). Katy, Joey and Sidney often had to put a stop to their schemes and keep them in line. As in the game, Katy had a pair of boxing gloves she kept in her pouch that could repel objects (mostly fruit) thrown her way. Also, Joey was more the focus of the show, often ending up in some kind of trouble necessitating Katy’s rescue of him.

The Monkeybiz Gang.

Kangaroo debuted on the Supercade on September 8, 1984 and ran for a total of 13 episodes. With the videogame industry suffering the effects of the 1983 bust, and the new Supercade unable to stop the ratings decline caused by The Smurfs on NBC, CBS cancelled the show. To date, Kangaroo has yet to see any form of home video release, as has most of the Supercade segments. Warner Archive announced via their Facebook page in 2010 that plans were underway to release Supercade to DVD, but because of rights issues with the various game properties the project needed extensive research before it could happen.

“Trunkfull of Trouble” (9/8/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“Zoo for Hire” (9/15/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“Bat’s Incredible” (9/22/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“The White Squirrel of Dover” (9/29/84) – When Sidney gets covered in white wash, he’s mistaken for a magician’s escaped assistant.

“The Birthday Party” (10/6/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“Having a Ball” (10/13/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“The Trail of the Cowardly Lion” (10/20/84) – The monkeys discover the zoo’s lion is easily terrified and scare him right out of the zoo.

“It’s Carnival Time” (10/27/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“Lost and Found” (11/3/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“Joey and the Beanstalk” (11/10/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“Zoo’s Who” (11/17/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“The Egg and Us” (11/24/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“The Runaway Panda” (12/1/84) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

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