For somebody who does a lot of the cartoon reviews on this website, I often miss many new cartoons that crop up on Saturday mornings, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, etc. One such animated show cropped up on my review slab. In the spirit of Halloween, (but not an official Nights of Terror post), it is my pleasure to take a look at Ugly Americans, the newest animation from Comedy Central.
Mark Lilly is a newcomer to Manhattan. He moves into his first apartment that he found on Craiglist, a nice two-bedroom with a roommate. One little problem, his roommate is a flesh-eating zombie named Randall Skeffington. Randall became a zombie in an attempt to win over a hot girl who was into zombies. The only issue is that the hot girl had moved on to warlocks by the time Randall had turned.
Mark works by day as a social worker at the Department of Integration. He is dating his immediate boss, a half human/half succubus named Callie Maggotbone. Callie often goes out of her way to have romantic sessions at work with Mark at a moment’s notice due to her cravings. There are also a few more workers at the Department that are worth a mention.
Leonard Powers is a wizard who is over five centuries old. He works with Mark but he spends most of his time drinking and trying to avoid work. Frank Grimes is the head of Law Enforcement at the Department of Integration and makes a habit of despising all non-humans. He calls them illegals since many of them have not went through the proper process. Rounding out the regular cast is Twayne Boneraper. Twayne is a mid-level government bureaucrat who runs the Department and also happens to be a demon.
A typical episode will usually have a monster such as a werewolf or a blob get caught by law enforcement and sentenced to social services where Mark includes them in the next meeting. He usually finds them a job and they learn how to integrate properly into society. Meanwhile, Callie is conflicted with their relationship (but still finds time to dominate Mark in the bedroom or the nearest bathroom) and Randall tries not to eat Mark. Expect many sight gags and one-liners to follow.
My first question would be how come I’ve never heard of this cartoon? It’s actually very funny. Some jokes sneak up on you and other cause you to laugh immediately. There are many times I ended up in a big fit of laughter. The laughter depends on how funny you find the typical horror or movie monster stereotype. The relationships in particular were very creative and went beyond what you would expect.
I loved the dynamic between Mark and Callie in particular as I’ve always wondered what it would be like to date a demon. There is a joke in there about my ex but I must have missed the part about the hot loving (In fact, she was more of an ice-princess, *rim shot*). The main flaw I could find though is that they really don’t stray much from the episode formula I described. But then again, it’s hard to go outside the box in the first seven episodes.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation. These toons are animated in the style of EC Comics from the 1950’s. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, think Vault of Horror. Still no clue? Do a Google search you young whipper snapper. As such, the episodes have a very classic feel but it’s uneven. They will do a good job on the demons and the humans but then the wizards just look ridiculous. It works, but it could vary a little less.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English Dolby Digital track (also included is a mix for Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0). Despite the 5.1 speaker setup, there is very little use of surrounds (except in the dvd menus oddly enough). Dialog is clear (even for the monsters) and there shouldn’t be any issues to speak of. It’s just nothing special. No subtitles are included.
- Audio Commentaries: These are included on all episodes. They involve creator Devin Clark and the executive producers: David Stern and Daniel Powell. They are a pretty raucous bunch, and laughing at any opportunity. These guys are having a lot of fun but also give us a great deal of information which is appreciated.
- 5-On Shorts 15:27: These are a series of 5 shorts that were put on the web back in 2007 that showed the Ugly American characters at early stages. They even use the same names. These shorts are moderated by a fictional news reporter named Alan Whiter and go over a variety of subjects including Robots on Immigration and Wizards on Hip Hop Obscenity.. Rough animation but extremely funny.
- Art Gallery: Twenty three pictures are included here from the show, some promotional posters too.
- Facebook Photos: Ten different Facebook-esque drawn pictures. Is it wrong to have the hots for an animated half female/half succubus? I didn’t think so.
- Sneak Peak Clip 5:17: A clip in the tradition of Access Hollywood (called Abscess Hollywood) about a dead Abraham Lincoln who is dating Jessica Alba. This will be in the new season.
- Sneak Peak Art: Fifteen pictures from the new season.
- Field Guide to Ugly Americans: An 8-page insert is included with the disc. This is written in the style of an instruction manual and has many helpful hints on what to do if you are attacked by a werewolf, have flesh cravings or handle a wizard labor dispute. A quality insert in this day and age, amazing.
Pleasant surprises don’t come along all the time. In fact, they are kinda rare. Ugly Americans is a very pleasant surprise with a boatful of laughs that surpass current South Park episodes. They mix unique characters with good laughs and even mix in a little political humor when you least expect it. The disc provides decent video and audio and a real good assortment of extras. It is easy to recommend this set and I look forward to volume 2. Comedy Central has asked for more episodes that will begin airing this month. Enjoy, or else Leonard might cast a spell on you.
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So You Want to be a Vampire
Kong of Queens