Well. This is certainly new. And by new, I mean pulling from a long Comedy Central tradition of making deceivingly PG looking cartoons that are actually wildly inappropriate for children.
I should back up.
Moonbeam City is a new cartoon which premiered last night on Comedy Central. It stars Rob Lowe as Dazzle, a handsome cop who thinks very highly of himself, but is not very good at his job. In the first episode, he fails to catch a petty criminal (not that petty, I guess. He sets an old woman on fire) and using only 42$, sets up a drug ring that come to rule the entire city. But instead of trying to catch him, Dazzle falls in love with a beautiful singer named Aiaiaia (I think) and becomes her manager. It’s weird, surreal and colorful.
Here are some thoughts I had.
1.Rob Lowe is superbly cast
His quick, dulcet tones are incredibly soothing and perfect for the kind of arrogant, suave delivery this character calls for. He calls to mind a less intelligent, more self absorbed Chris Traeger, Lowe’s character on Parks and Recreation. He is just the right amount of slimy, funny, stupid, arrogant and sexy to make him work.
2. Actually, everyone is superbly cast
Elizabeth Banks shines as Pizzaz Miller, Dazzle’s chief. Kate Mara delivers competent intelligence as Chrysalis, Dazzle’s eager sidekick. And Will Forte owns it as Rad, Dazzle’s rival on the police force. The cast all deliver quick dialogue with gusto and enthusiasm, making what could be a failure of a pilot into something engaging and bizarre. It’s a real treat to hear these folks having so much fun.
3. This is a more irreverent Archer
If you’re familiar with the television show Archer, it’s impossible not to spot the similarities. An arrogant manchild in a badass authority role. A cast of characters who all have to put up with him. Quick, sharp dialogue. Crazy violence and gratuitous sex. Even the animation looks vaguely similar. The biggest difference is that Moonbeam City has even less reverence than Archer. The jokes come fast and loose, the world seems run by chaos and happenstance, and plot seems secondary to characters being able to deliver their snappy comebacks. It’s exceptional in its absurdity. My hope is that the show can keep it up.
4. The dialogue is so sharp, you’ll cut your tongue trying to quote it
“I hope your brain’s hungry. It’s having bullets for dinner.” “I’ll put you back where I found you. In that sweatshop that makes uncomfortable chairs for other sweatshops.” Zingers like these bounce back and forth between characters at dizzying speed. The cast does alright with them, but Rob Lowe truly shines when he gets to toss back and forth these little gems. It’s not all great, but it’s definitely quotable. And a lot of fun.
5. This feels fresh and familiar all at once
I feel like I’ve seen this show. Partially because it resembles a mash up between Miami Vice and Archer, two shows I’m pretty familiar with. The tone is very reminiscent of other Adult Swim style shows that don’t really care for plot and are mostly interested in surrealistic interpretations of mundane day-to-day events. But at the same time, it feels different. The style is more frenetic, the writing is more stylized. Same but different. I’m interested to see where this goes.
6. Some of these gags are shockingly inspired
Specifically, a gag involving mugs. I won’t ruin it, but the payoff is really surprising and got a sincere laugh out of me. Other running gags like only lightbulbs getting shot in shootouts, useless disguises, events taking an absurdly short amount of time to occur, and bird shrieking are some of the highlights. Check out the episode to see what I mean.
7. The creator (Scott Gairdner) also created this: Tiny Fuppets
8. This the most recent in a series of a new kind of sitcom
That is, animated surrealist sitcoms featuring a male lead with an ego the size of space. Archer, BoJack Horseman, Rick and Morty. These are excellent shows with amazing writing. It’s not clear if Moonbeam City will live up to it’s stylistic forbears, but it has all the right ingredients to do so. As long as they don’t jump the shark, if such a thing is even possible for a show like this.
9. Comedy Central is kind of killing it lately
Inside Amy Shumer. Key & Peele. The Daily Show. The Nightly Show. Kroll Show. Broad City. Drunk History. Review. Nathan For You. And now Moonbeam City. It kind of feels like the network is in a bit of a renaissance.
Yeah. This is what you’re getting into.
Tags: Comedy Central, Elizabeth Banks, Kate Mara, moonbeam city, Rob Lowe, Scott Gairdner, Will Forte