September 22, 2009

TV Review | Teletoon at Night Saturday Premieres: Part Two

Clarification regarding Part 1 of this article: Teletoon at Night is the weekday adult programming block.  Teletoon Detour is the weekend adult programming block.  There’s no brand simplicity at Teletoon.  [adult swim], whether it reruns shows (which it does, to death) or debuts new ones, is still [adult swim].

Teletoon’s adult programming block has gone from Teletoon Unleashed to Teletoon Detour, Teletoon F-Night, back to Teletoon Detour and now this split branding.  While I’m glad Teletoon found a classier name and image for its Futurama and King of the Hill reruns, why keep the Detour brand?  Stupid.  Pick one name and run with it, Teletoon.  At least the Thursday and Friday night films are a constant now, so baby steps.

Xavier: Renegade Angel 1.1: “What Life D-D-Doth” | This show has a love-it-or-hate-it fanbase.  Either Xavier is the worst thing [adult swim] has vomited forth or a mindblowing trip that few have the capacity to understand.

Xavier is essentially Billy Jack with a beak, fur, backward-bending legs and six nipples, among other design flaws.  He is obnoxious to everyone he meets, his ego too big for one planet.  Xavier’s words sometimes echo, as if anything he says has any portent.

Hell, Xavier doesn’t have to make sense half the time.  Even if he did, he’s talking to unenlightened people, which he knows he is much better than.  The show is a complete mindfuck, which would explain how “What Life D-D-Doth” can work AIDS, the nature of reality and a bevy of bad puns into a…well, whatever the hell Xavier is, at any rate.

Before Xavier: Renegade Angel, PFFR was best known for MTV2’s Wonder Showzen.  I like Xavier: Renegade Angel better than Wonder Showzen.  That’s not an impressive feat, as Wonder Showzen episodes fail at humour nineteen times out of twenty.

Xavier is of similar quality to Wonder Showzen, but it’s easier to swallow at eleven minutes.  Believe it or not, Xavier: Renegade Angel is still better than Assy McGee and 12 oz. Mouse.  Painful rectal discharge is better than 12 oz. Mouse.

Frisky Dingo 2.1: “Behold a Dark Horse” | Frisky Dingo‘s first-season finale had nominal villain Killface plan to hurl the Earth into the sun with his Annihilatrix.  Thanks to malfunctioning couplings, Killface’s machine does not pull the Earth into the sun.  It actually pushes Earth a few feet away from the sun…just enough to end global warming, since Killface totally meant to do that.

Turning a negative into a positive, Killface becomes the Democratic presidential nominee.  The episode centers around him and Dottie Bunch mounting a run for the American presidency.  This involves Bunch spending Killface’s money on booze, a commercial set in a wheatfield, lots of fundraisers and a penguin named Baby Lamont.

Killface so deliberately cured global warming, the one issue he bases his campaign on.  He uses the penguin as the face of global warming, as the chick was trapped on an ice floe in the first season.  As this isn’t enough to interest voters, rapper Taqu’il (he of The Ballocaust fame) is chosen as Killface’s running mate.

For an eleven-minute show on [adult swim], Frisky Dingo is surprisingly plot-heavy.  Not many superhero parodies will use terms like “media buy” or delve into the minutiae of a supervillain’s life.  Non-fans will probably have no clue what the show is about, or why so much attention is paid to a naked, muscular alien interested in said media buys.

Frisky Dingo is much better than Sealab 2021, Adam Reed and Matt Thompson’s previous series.  Sealab 2021 trades in the Aqua Teen Hunger Force style of humour, where wacky shit happens just for the sake of entertaining stoners.  Frisky Dingo is more intelligent, has a unique look and doesn’t couch itself in the remains of a long-dead Hanna-Barbera show.  Baby Lamont alone is worth a watch.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force 5.1: “Robots Are Everywhere” | I’ve watched this show off and on since its debut.  I used to like this show, but ATHF has lost me completely at this point.  There’s only so far this show can go without repeating itself.

In “Robots Are Everywhere,” Carl rents out the house Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad are normally tenants of to boxy robots.  “Markula” makes an appearance.  The robots hump a lot, making babies.  Carl switches between disinterest and anger, as he often does.  It’s the typical Aqua Teen Hunger Force plot.  Making sense of this show is futile.

I understand this is a Carl-centric show, as the anthropomorphic foodstuffs have been captured by military spiders.  It doesn’t matter what happens in the episode, since it’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force and continuity is for pussies.  I just don’t enjoy this show anymore.  I feel the show lost something after Dr. Weird’s ass ate his hand.  After that, there’s nowhere else for Aqua Teen Hunger Force to go.


September 16, 2009

TV Review | Teletoon at Night Saturday Premieres: Part One

EDIT (September 22, 2009) | Clarification regarding Part 1 of this article: Teletoon at Night is the weekday adult programming block.  Teletoon Detour is the weekend adult programming block.  I apologize for the error.

Teletoon has changed the name of its adult programming blocks from Teletoon Detour to Teletoon at Night.  Sunday nights are a doggie bag – new episodes of Life’s a, but nothing else of note.  Saturday nights are where the “stars” come out to “shine,” if I may “use” a “cliché.”

I’m glad to see Teletoon finally bundle its [adult swim] shows in a one-night package.  In this case, “new” is relative.  Those second-season Metalocalypse episodes are two years old by now.  G4 Canada is competing against Teletoon with its own [adult swim] package, which I hope spurred Teletoon to get its ass in gear.

As for the Sunday animation block, I hope Teletoon mounts a few new shows within a year or two.  If I remember correctly, The Dating Guy and the Teletoon Pilot Project shows have yet to see air.  I’d love to see Teletoon with a real [adult swim]-like roster of programs, not just reruns of Punch! and Clone High strewn waywardly across its schedules.  Failing that, at least bring back Captain Star.

The Venture Bros. 3.1: “Shadowman 9: In the Cradle of Destiny” (10:30 PM ET/PT) | Despite its Jonny Quest-baiting origins, The Venture Bros. has become the best show on [adult swim] at this point in time.  The show has created a host of interesting and multi-layered characters, enough that the entire Venture family doesn’t feature in the third-season premiere.  Instead, Doctor Girlfriend and The Monarch are being interrogated by The Guild of Calamitous Intent.

There aren’t many truly funny moments in the third-season premiere.  All the same, “Shadowman 9: In the Cradle of Destiny” is worth it for the fleshing-out of The Monarch’s character – his status as Phantom Limb’s ninth Shadowman, the relationship with wife/former Phantom Limb second-in-command Dr. Girlfriend, the first attempts at destroying “arch-nemesis” Dr. Thaddeus Venture.  The Venture Bros. has entered the stage where secondary characters can carry whole episodes, enough that the backstories might be hard to follow for newcomers.

The Venture Bros.’ main strength – and it has many, from voiceover work to dense plotting – is in its animation quality.  It’s a low-budget, traditionally animated effort, but creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer have the 1960s cartoon style down to a fine art.  I’m actually surprised The Venture Bros. has kept up its quality for as long as it has.  It’s almost too good for [adult swim].

Moral Orel 3.2: “Numb” (11:00 PM ET/PT) | Wow, Teletoon is airing the third season as originally intended!  As bad as Teletoon is in its scheduling, at least the Teletoon at Night block doesn’t pull stunts like airing new episodes of [adult swim] shows as an April Fool’s joke.

Moral Orel has much improved from its “I’ll beat up a heathen for Jesus” religious-hypocrisy-baiting days.  Actor Scott Adsit has admitted to Moral Orel‘s first two seasons being formulaic by design.  It makes me wonder why Moral Orel didn’t flesh out its characters until its first two seasons had passed.

There’s the usual bit of shock humour in “Numb,” as Bloberta uses a jackhammer as a vibrator (albeit offscreen.)  She mutilates herself so she can see Doctor Quentin Xavier Potterswheel, appealing to a fetish of his.  Bizarrely, “Numb” is written in such a way that the craziness actually looks normal.  Moral Orel creator Dino Stamatopoulos guaranteed the show’s cancellation with episodes like “Numb.”

One realizes in “Numb” that Bloberta is in a loveless marriage, as shown in the episode’s final two minutes.  Moral Orel has been hinting for two seasons that everyone aside from Orel is screwed up, while the third season just blurts it out.  Having The Mountain Goats’ “No Children” top and tail the episode doesn’t hurt.  I actually like Moral Orel now.

Metalocalypse 2.1: “Dethecution” (11:30 PM ET/PT) | A lot of [adult swim] shows are focused on marketing.  I’m serious about this.  Frisky Dingo?  Basically Xander Crews (and in the second season, Killface) selling himself.  Metalocalypse?  The marketing of the world’s most successful band.

I don’t think I need to explain how Robot Chicken fits into this theory.  Just look at the crappy toys from your childhood and you’ll know.

As for “Dethecution,” I’m not sold on this episode.  It repeats the Metalocalypse formula.  Many people are brutally killed during a Dethklok concert.  Skwisgaar makes singulars words plurals.  Charles Foster Ofdensen lectures the bandmembers on how to conduct their affairs.  It’s the same jokes from the first season.  I like Metalocalypse, but I’m starting to see the holes in the writing.

The Tribunal is back, minus Cardinal Ravenwood, who was killed by Mr. Selatcia at the end of the first season.  General Crozier has nightmares relating to Ravenwood’s death, which is as far as the episode goes.  I’m not expecting Metalocalypse to wow me with a season premiere, but the most notable thing about “Dethecution” is that Metalocalypse‘s theme song has become a running gag.

I can’t see all the episodes of the second season being like this.  “Dethecution” is just boring as hell.  Nothing happens that hasn’t happened on the show before.  I await the return of Dr. Rockzo.


February 21, 2009

TV Review | Robot Chicken 4.2: “They Took My Thumbs”

Proof that Robot Chicken has become more elaborate as a show can be found on “They Took My Thumbs.”  This particular episode has almost eliminated the five-to-ten-second gag, aside from a decent Hall and Oates reference and a bestiality gag even Jon Dore wouldn’t touch.  The show almost doesn’t feel like Robot Chicken.

“Wildman” is this episode’s best sketch.  Sebastian Bach makes it work by being his usual Rock God self.  Baz is still hard rock’s walking punchline, not that he gives a shit.  I hope Baz does more stuff where people are laughing with him and not at him.

Some of the sketches in “They Took My Thumbs” are weak.  “You Bet Your Ass That’s a Boulder” takes its one Raiders of the Lost Ark-derived gag and stretches the hell out of it.  A boulder, two hundred darts and an altar’s weak point make for an elaborate way to protect a gold idol, but this five-second observation is padded to two and a half minutes.

“Train Man” and “Thursday the 12th” are slice-of-life tales.  “Train Man” concerns one man’s desire to succeed despite a subway train almost cutting him in half.  “Thursday the 12th” shows Jason Voorhees’ daily activities when he’s not slaughtering teens.  Neither sketch is funny.  “Train Man” attempts Futurama-style poignancy, which is odd coming from this show.

“Bring a Sidekick to Work Day”…I like the fact that the “original” Aqualad was a limbed fish that could survive out of water.  Robot Chicken doesn’t resort to those ever-fresh ‘Aquaman is gay’ jokes in this episode.

Comedy gold should come out of Wonder Girl, Robin, Speedy, Kid Flash and human Aqualad.  The best “Bring a Sidekick to Work Day” can do is The Martian Manhunter’s “invisible” sidekick, which isn’t good.  Robot Chicken has done better superhero parodies, so the attention to period detail is wasted.

“They Took My Thumbs” is a weak Robot Chicken episode.  The episode’s slower pace doesn’t beget funnier material.  I appreciate the show’s effort to be more than farting and retards, but “They Took My Thumbs” is a little padded.  Luckily, the fourth season gets better from here.


TV Review | Robot Chicken 4.1: “Help Me”

Another year, another season of Robot Chicken.  It’s like this sort of thing happens every year on an arbitrary date decided by [adult swim].

Every Robot Chicken season premiere has to have a big “we’re renewed” introductory sketch, so Seth Green and Matthew Senreich hit up Joss Whedon, Seth MacFarlane and Battlestar Galactica executive producer Ron Moore for work.  It doesn’t matter that Green and Senreich killed [adult swim]’s Mike Lazzo last season.  Robot Chicken‘s famous for dead people magically coming back to life, sometimes in the very next sketch.  Cartoons are neat.

Seeing Joss Whedon and Ron Moore kill each other warms my heart as I find both Battlestar Galactica and Whedon overrated, but the sketch itself isn’t funny.  I hate the “Robot Chicken cancelled/renewed” cliffhangers.  Robot Chicken is one of [adult swim]’s most popular shows.  Robot Chicken has at least three more years of being milked.

“I Am Needed Upstairs” is the best sketch of the episode.  Seth MacFarlane’s Trojan Man routine (“the reservoir tip is for your semen!”) helps sell the sketch, otherwise it’s the typical “fictional character in real world” mashup.  “I Am Needed Upstairs” works due to its use of dialogue, something Robot Chicken isn’t as good at as Dead Baby Comedy.

“Can’t Be a Crime to Kick a Dope Rhyme” is also notable.  Although the sketch is just okay, it wins points for referencing PaRappa the Rapper and replicating its paper-thin look.  Three seasons ago, characters in Robot Chicken weren’t even in scale.  The show has come far.

Tila Tequila’s sketch (“Pre-Pubescent Alien Whore”) is watchable enough, even though the Terminator 2 reference is just there and I could give a potted damn about anything or anyone Tila Tequila does and/or has sex with.  She got a plug for her MTV show in, so that’s her role fulfilled.

The ending sketch, “Just the Good Parts,” is a mixed bag.  It’s similar to season one’s “Welcome to the Spoilers,” but isn’t as funny.  There’s a callback to the beginning of the episode, which is wasted on Seth Green dying.

The occasional Sarah Michelle Gellar and Seth MacFarlane cameos are fine, as are the credit references to Gellar and Mila Kunis.  MacFarlane making fun of Family Guy‘s manatee gags, though, comes across as mutual ass-patting.  MacFarlane’s awesome, I get it.  He only says that about himself once every three seconds.  Robot Chicken can structure a much better gag than Family Guy at this point.

“Help Me” is a fairly solid season premiere for Robot Chicken.  At this point viewers and non-fans alike should know what to expect – farting, retards, nut shots, clever satire with ironic subtext and Joey Fatone cameos.  Robot Chicken may be maturing, but it’s still crude and offensive.  May this show never be up its own ass with self-importance.


December 17, 2008

TV Review | Robot Chicken: “Tubba-Bubba’s Now Hubba-Hubba,” “Boo Cocky”

Teletoon recently aired six Robot Chicken episodes, officially the odds and sods of the show’s third season.  In America, the third season began in August 2007 and ended fifteen months later.

This tied in nicely with the release of the third-season Robot Chicken DVD, which I bet everyone bought before the economy started to eat itself.  Here now, some reviews of the frottingest show on television, not including Howie Do It.

“Tubba-Bubba’s Now Hubba-Hubba” | It’s nice that Robot Chicken references the Superpets.  To be fair, it’s the Legion of Super-Pets and Seth Green’s adaptation of the infrequently remembered superhero team is hardly faithful.  Seriously, Hissy the Super-Snake?  Is Proty II screwing with us?

Anyway, they forget to feed themselves, even though at least two of the Super-Pets have human-like intelligence and Krypto is shown drawing a ring around his left eye.  Hissy can type articles for The Daily Planet…oh, who cares?  Watch Streaky the Super-Cat smile at you while he’s taking a shit!  Believe it or not, this sketch is more intelligent than any Superman comic from the 1960s.

The running gag of a 24 parody features Dracula sleeping.  Eventually, Drac foils a terrorist plot and destroys Van Helsing in the process.

He also makes puns and follows them up with pregnant pauses while looking at the camera.  It’s hard not to like Drac’s style.  His puns have that certain bite.

As for other sketches, “Girls Gone Wild: Cenobitches” is great.  The Pac-Man/Matrix sketch has Pac-Man do his best Neo impression before dying.  The entire sketch is time filler and wouldn’t have been funny nine years ago.

Vehicle Force Voltron is made reference to in one sketch, which must have pleased a few Dairugger XV fans but relies on a “transforming robot takes too long to form” gag.  The repeating five-note fanfare is the best part of the sketch, which is sad.

Kevin Shinick has a sketch built around his hosting Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?, but it relies too much on Robot Chicken tropes like kids being yelled at and domestic disturbance as a plot device.  “Tubba-Bubba’s Now Hubba-Hubba” is a typical Robot Chicken episode.  Let’s move on.

“Boo Cocky” | The opening sketch, where the nerds from Revenge of the Nerds earn jail time for their shenanigans, is lost on me.  The sketch is a variation on the standard “what if reality intruded upon nostalgia” Robot Chicken trope.

The second-best sketch in “Boo Cocky” has Conan the Barbarian and friends make a musical production number out of the line “crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of the women!”  Truly, Conan knows what is best in life.  It’s a simple idea, and it works.

The best sketch is where a giant anthropomorphic carrot jumps out of the ground and eats a bunny.  What the carrot says is Robot Chicken at its absurdist best.  Big surprise the best sketch airs right after the second-best sketch.  It’s best to skip the next seven minutes.

Those who plan to watch the next seven minutes will be rewarded with some hilarity.  The Star Trek Las Vegas Experience sketch has its moments, even though it blows its comedic load halfway through.

A PVR-based sketch reuses the “farting and retards” joke from earlier in the third season.  Robot Chicken fans know the show isn’t just about farting and retards – nut shots have been part of RC since the beginning.  At least the farting retards make for intellectually stimulating television.

The Saw/Saved by the Bell mashup outright sucks.  How the hell can the show waste Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Dustin Diamond, Lark Voorhies and Dennis Haskins on such a lame sketch?  Robot Chicken has screwed the proverbial pooch while attempting to skewer the vast and magnificent world of Saved by the Bell.  Please GO TO HELL!

“Boo Cocky” is funnier than “Tubba-Bubba’s Now Hubba-Hubba,” but that’s not saying much.  “Boo Cocky” needed more monster carrot.