Back in 1983, CBS introduced the Saturday Supercade show, which featured cartoon shorts based on popular arcade games of the era. This was the first animated appearance of Donkey Kong and Mario, and the only(?) animated appearance of Donky Kong Jr.
In the Donkey Kong segments, DK was a circus ape who decided to run away, Pauline (his trainer) and Mario chase after him and try to catch him. The episodes are very formulaic; Mario and Pauline find a trail of banana peels & follow it to Donkey Kong. DK gets away and disguises himself as a human (how nobody can seem to notice something odd about a person who is twice their height, more than four times their mass, can only speak in grunts, and has a head nearly as big as the rest of their body is beyond me) and winds up somehow getting tied to the real villain of the episode. DK grabs Pauline and runs off with her, Mario follows to rescue her, DK finds some barrels somewhere & throws them at Mario. Mario will usually manage to capture DK, but then the villains grab Pauline, forcing Mario and DK to work together to save her. After the villain of the day is defeated, DK takes off again and the chase begins anew.
Mario is taller than we’re used to seeing him depicted (closer to Luigi), has blue pants and red shirt instead of the other way around, and has a normal American accent instead of the more familiar fake italian one.
In the Donky Kong Junior segments, Jr goes to the circus to see his father, but gets there sometime after DK escaped (the opening of the Jr segment depicts the same ripped poster that DK was shown bursting through in the intro to his own segment). Saddened, he is greeted by a young guy with a motorcycle. The two of them drive off into the sunset to try to track down Donkey Kong. While they never manage to find DK, they have their own adventures with various cartoon criminals. This segment is very much like a copy of Scooby Doo & Scrappy. Jr is energetic and seemingly infallible and even has a copy of Scrappy’s “puppy power!” catchphrase, “monkey muscle!”. the biker kid on the other hand is very much like Shaggy, skinny, bumbling, and always trying to stay out of danger.
Neither of these cartoons could be considered to be high quality endeavors, but they are fun and entertaining. The lightness of their content, combined with their short length (around 12 minutes per episode) makes both of these toons good choices for when you want a bit of light entertainment.
The Saturday Supercade was a show that I watched a lot as a kid, but had completely forgotten about until stumbling onto some videos a while back. Once I started watching them, them memories all came flooding back. I remember watching the Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr, and Q*Bert segments all the time, and vaguely remember the Space Ace segment. I remember changing the channel every time the Frogger segment came on, but I don’t recall the Pitfall Harry nor Kangaroo segments at all.
Now, for your enjoyment, here is an episode of Donkey Kong:
…And an episode of Donkey Kong Junior: