13 July 2010

Adult Swim's summer hits and misses

The World Cup is over?  Let the withdrawal begin!  Ack!

Near the top of my list of vices is a tendency to watch way too many things on Cartoon Network, especially the late-night Adult Swim section.

Hit:  Mary Shelley's Frankenhole is the latest from Dino Stamatopolous, creator Moral Orel, a brilliant sendup of fundamentalist Christianity that died a miserable death, both creatively and in the ratings.  Stamatopolous followed it up with SuperJail, a tawdry and violent show that's more typical Adult Swim fare.  I hated it, so when Frankenhole started, I avoided it.

[Correction:  Stamatopolous had nothing to do with Superjail.  Still, given Morel Orel's sad fate, my comment about Frankenhole stands.]

That may have been a mistake.  In this show, Dr. Frankenstein didn't stop at creating his famous monster.  Among other things, he's discovered gateways to parallel universes.  Fool that he is, he's opened them; and, on the basis of the first episode I saw this weekend, considerable hilarity has ensued.  I'll stream in the other 10-minute segments that have aired.  Hopefully, like the one I've seen, they'll be close in tone to Moral Orel's brilliant first season.

Misses:  [as] opened two live-action series this summer, both centered on popular comedians.  My feelings about them are not good.  Check it Out! with Dr. Steve Brule features John C. Reilly as the pathetic, forlorn host of an early-morning cable-access show.  Reilly plays the part too well: Brule needs therapy, not more episodes.  Meanwhile, Children's Hospital, Rob Corddry's much-ballyhooed expansion of an Internet series, opened Sunday night.  The opener was made for WB online viewing, so I'll give it pass.  But it doesn't look promising at this point.

Hit:  The Boondocks started its long-awaited third season back in May rather slowly.  The season low came with "The Story of Jimmy Rebel," in which the bizarrely racist Uncle Ruckus hooks up with his favorite singer, who writes and performs racist songs.  It could've been a funny installment, but the writers went overboard with the songs.  From there, the season has improved dramatically, including a brutally funny riff on Tyler Perry.  Series creator Aaron McGruder has reportedly declared that this will be the series' last season.  If so, that would mark a big loss for Adult Swim.

Miss:  Just today, the official Venture Bros. blog confirmed a 12 September start date for new episodes.  The same post tells us that Season 4 has now ended.  For my favorite Adult Swim show, it's two small pieces of bad news.  The original plan was to grant Venture Bros. a 16-episode season 4, split into two parts.  The first eight installments aired last winter, and the season was to restart late this spring.  Production delays took their toll, pushing the restart  back to 22 August, then to the now-official 12 September.  At some point recently, Adult Swim and VB creator Jackson Publick decided to re-label the second half of Season 4 as Season 5.  There is a Venture Bros. panel at Comic-Con in San Diego, so we should soon hear more on the show's near-term future.

Here's hoping the restart makes its new deadline.


Scott said...

Dino didn't create or work on Superjail.

Abu Scooter said...

Hmmm. I swear that I saw his name on at least one episode. (Maybe as an episode writer?)

In any event, neither Adult Swim nor IMDb links Dino to Superjail. Thanks for pointing out my mistake, Scott, and welcome aboard!

Matty Boy said...

I've finally gotten around to watching Frankenhole, but only the two most recent, the one about Death and Frankenstein feuding and the one about Hitler. I appreciate it for being very different in look and feel from Moral Orel. It's definitely on my weekly list now.

Some of the Boondocks this year have been just too mean, but I liked Ebony Brown and Grandad smoking reefer.

Abu Scooter said...

Matty - point taken about the tone of Boondocks. The series has always had a mean streak, but this season's episodes have been a bit more open about it.

Definitely agree with your sentiment about the Ebony Brown episode. Apart from the Freemans, she's the best realized character to appear on the show. Firefly co-star Gina Torres provided her voice. Bonus!

Matty Boy said...

I don't think she's the best realized character. She has no flaws, so it's just not realistic. I think Tom or Thugnificent would be the best defined characters not named Freeman.

Just one expert's opinion.

Abu Scooter said...

Well, Ebony was certainly flawless from Robert's view, and that was actually the first impression I got of her. The trouble is that she did pretty much reduce Robert to a conquest. And rather than simply break off the relationship, she let him follow her all the way to Asia -- then rejected him there. The more I think about Ebony, the less I like her; but I wouldn't call her perfect.

I never cared much for Tom, but if Thugnificent had taken air time from Ruckus, that would have been an improvement.