This is my blog series wherein I write-up TV shows I only recently have checked out and picked up. If you have ideas for what I should watch next, leave them in the comments, along with your personal opinions on the shows I have discussed.
Thanks and enjoy.
Napoleon Dynamite - Pilot (FOX, by Jared and Jershua Hess, starring Jon Heder, Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, and Diedrich Bader)
Cringes came from the notion that a movie would come from the 2004 quirky comedy of the same name that grew so tired that it ruined all good worth that it had in the first place. It’s kind of a sad fact, because I actually enjoyed the film, like many, and enjoy everything that Jared and Jershua Hess do with glee. Though hopes were low in determining the quality of this show, which felt like a predetermined disaster. The state of the program seems in shape, and in my opinion, it’s fair.
The show seems to have adapted its slow pace and dead-pan sensibilities from the movie it once came from for a much more energetic, fast paced manner, similar to Family Guy. Even more so, in how quickly it racks off jokes, it reminds me of the Clerks cartoon, in a decent way. Yes, the stories are… reasonable, to some degree, and there are references to the movie (which I have a feeling they will stray away from as soon as they get better footing and run out of quotes), but the writers take these characters into some really strange places (like farmer fight clubs, and even more audacious) to do some strange things. Absurd sound effects and visual gags are a-plenty, and partially relentless, because screw it, it’s a cartoon. I like that philosophy- it sets up for some sure-fired fun that may not make a lot of sense, but that’s why it’s fun.
The writing is actually pretty funny and has a lot of great ideas, but I don't feel like all of the voice cast is entirely comfortable in , you know, voice acting. A lot of it is awkward, and strangely, not from the main characters. Guys like Efren Ramirez, Deidrich Bader, and Jon Heder still manage to embody their characters quite well, as well as put them through the much more out of whack pacing. The main cast generally returns, but you can tell that a majority aren’t really used to acting in a voice booth, or at least pushing their characters’ quirks into this new format (new to them, of course.)
It's weird to say, but I didn't entirely hate the show- it has absurd sensibilities that Jared and Jershua Hess are entirely known for, and I love that they can take these characters, but change things up even more in a partially impressive way. I hope that Hess and gang really develop their voice to only more cater this style of comedy, because I hear the potential. Maybe because I’m an apologist for everything the Hess’ do, but I don’t know, I liked the pilot, and think that there’s room for even more improvement.
Like it: Yes (with generosity)
Continue to Watch it: Yes (with high hopes)
Unsupervised – Pilot (FX, by David Hornsby, Rob Rosell, Scott Marder, starring Justin Long, David Hornsby, Romany Malco, Kristen Bell, and Fred Armisen)
I like David Hornsby. He’s an absolute delight on It’s Always Sunny, especially with his character of Rickety Cricket, who he has taken on one of the most insane character arcs ever written for anything or anyone ever. He’s got the presence of a comedic genius and the skill of a ridiculously talented writer- quite a package, yes? So a show, rather, a cartoon tackling the kind of sex-hungry, popularity seeking teens we love to see in flicks like Superbad should be awesome, right? Well I think it can be, with Hornsby’s new show Unsupervised, but I think he’s far from close to the genius that can be tapped from this premise.
I’ll give it that the general comedic voice and attitude the show plays with is snappy, though that may just be thanks to the voice-acting editing. The people on cast are very talented comedic actors, but don’t seem to have the casual rapport that they should sport. Shows like The Life and Times of Tim, Home Movies, and pretty much all other good animated programs record their dialogue with all the actors in one room, bouncing off each other. Instead, transitions in exchanges feel awkward. It also doesn’t help that so far, the humor is hit and miss. The writing seems to be going for more banter-based humor, but can’t manage to land very funny things to talk or argue about. I’m sure in a much smoother fashion, things would work for the better, but it doesn’t detract from how the writers are handling these characters and their environments. The protagonists are goofy and annoying, in a way that isn’t necessarily charming- like an un-funny and nerve-wrecking Beavis and Butthead. They’ll really have to build upon these characters to make them sympathetic in the slightest, but for now, they’re only coming off as stupid, and that goes to pretty much all the characters. It’s sad too, because there are good, partially funny ideas for some of them and for where these characters are to be taken, but again, the execution in voice acting and writing just hasn’t reached proper successful levels yet.
Bordering annoying, I think Unsupervised has good intentions and good ideas. I hope it can gain some footing and improve upon its writing and voice acting, so it can better fit the quick-fire tone. Otherwise, this show isn’t really going anywhere special, and isn’t really worth much, which hurts to say, but seems true.
Like it: Not really.
Continue to Watch it: Maybe (I’ll pick up one more episode, out of fandom for the guys who made it)
Archer – Season 3 Premiere (FX, by Adam Reed, starring H. Jon Benjamin, Jessica Walters, Chris Parnell, Judy Greer, Aisha Tyler, and Amber Nash)
This show is the position in which I hope Napoleon Dynamite would be able to reach at some point. The absurdity and genius comes easily, mainly because of how comfortable and strong the voice acting is. Of course, we have veterans like the brilliant H. Jon Benjamin and Chris Parnell to newcomers like Jessica Walters and Judy Greer, and they’ve all fallen into the comfortable place by the 3 season, and they’re only getting better. Granted, this is also great because of the fantastic writing, from a comedy and strangely, from an action standpoint. Archer is like the ultimate action/spy comedy, because of its parody of those professional agencies and making it much more pathetic, as well as still carrying through with the standard rigmarole these groups would go through in a serious sense. Creator and writer Adam Reed only gets better in playing with these tropes in a very fun manner, and he’s really aware of what works, what doesn’t, and he always tweaks for the better with each episode.
There isn’t much more to say in terms of good nature for the show. This premiere was fairly strong in terms of comedy, and ESPECIALLY in its big action blowout of a scene. Of course, harkening back to Adult Swim shows like Harvey Birdman, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Sealab 2021 (still standing characters that barely run or move out of their current, upright position), there isn’t a lot of lee-way for loose motion, but what they make due with is actually pretty enjoyable and ridiculous in a constant and consistent fashion. In fact, there’s some development in their capabilities concerning action to be found here, with more… 3D oriented scenes. They put it too good use here in reverence to the more energetic and goofy kind of action moments loved to be found in Burt Reynolds’ flicks, and as well as the show’s own original spins. It looks nice and in place, which is a nice addition on top of already great action handling.
Burt Reynolds’ cameo as himself was fantastic. He’s strangely comfortable in voice acting, and being a casual inclusion amongst very off-kilter characters. And yet, he gets to be goofy in his own unique way. His cool demeanor plays off of Archer’s none-too-calm swagger in a brilliant contrast. He’s a delight to hear, because he just fits so well in spouting whatever dumb dialogue he’s given- he’s so natural that at points, I’d believe that some of it is improvisation. It’s that quality of natural craziness (though he’s never really off his rocker) that makes the main characters such great comedic voices and respective presences. They are are so well developed and loved that you can’t not love just watching these insane people just work together and try not to kill each other. Here’s hoping they keep each other alive long enough for a few more seasons and a movie, or at least until the show runs out of steam, which at this rate, seems like will be NEVER.
There is also one small gag that occurs in the middle of the episode’s big action set-piece that sheer genius in reference to the limitations of stock footage usage in 70s action flicks. Waiting for that moment alone is worth watching, but as is the rest of the episode, of course.
Like it: Loved it
Continue to Watch it: Of course- this show has enough good will to only get better as it goes.
Next installation, I'm probably going to talk about Justified, Mad Men, and the Walking Dead. This should be fun.
Again, if you have suggestions for what I should check out next, leave them in the comments, along with your own opinions- I'd love to read them!
Thanks for reading!