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Canned TV Show #22: Sym-Bionic Titan

June 10, 2012 1 comment

So I was planning a month of all animation but that kind of didn’t pan out.  But here’s another animated series anyway!  This one’s a little different from what I’ve done before, since it’s geared toward a younger audience than the more adult-friendly animated shows I’ve covered so far.  But make no mistake, it’s a mature, thoughtful show all the same.

Today’s show is Sym-Bionic Titan, co-created by the great Genndy Tartakovsky, who was also responsible for Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack, two tentpoles of my childhood.  I have great affection for this guy’s work, so I was excited to watch this to say the least.  Credit where credit is due though: Bryan Andrews and Paul Rudish also share a creator credit, so it’s hard to know exactly who was responsible for what, though it certainly shares some important similarities to past Tartakovsky work.  Much like Jack, this show features a more serialized plotline, and pays homage to a whole host of pop culture.  Whereas Jack was an extended tribute to everything from samurai flicks (duh), spaghetti westerns, and dystopian sci-fi, Titan references nearly the whole of science fiction cinema, as well as some other, less expected elements.  It’s slightly less serialized than Jack, which was, to my memory at least, one of Cartoon Network’s first attempts and doing more long-form storytelling, more like an anime (another important influence on both Jack and Titan), and that continues here.

So what is the story, you might ask?  It concerns three individuals: Ilana (voiced by Tara Strong), the princess of a planet called Galaluna, a sort of quasi-Victorian world with futuristic technology; Lance (voiced by Kevin Thoms), a military prodigy; and Octus (voiced by Brian Posehn, who is just great), a super-intelligent robot who can change form.  Lance is charged with protecting Ilana, who is hiding out on Earth while fleeing her home planet due to a military coup in progress.  The man responsible for the coup is General Modula, who used to be the king’s right-hand man.  He’s enlisted the help of the Mutraddi, a race of horrifying aliens, in order to sieze power (listen, I don’t wanna be “that guy,” but is it a coincidence that the ugly, violent “other” in this scenario has a name that sounds vaguely Arab, or is there some secret anti-Islamicism at work here?  It’s probably just me.  God, I never wanna be “that guy” again).  Modula is holding the king hostage, and sends a range of giant beasts to Earth to kill Ilana, beasts which are continually defeated by the titular Titan.

About that Titan: it’s essentially a giant robot formed from three smaller robots, two commandeered by Lance and Ilana, and the third is just Octus.  They work in tandem to control it and harness it’s power, hence the sym part of the title.  It’s a pretty neat example of “work together and you can do anything!” kind of thinking.

The show balances a number of plotlines, including the trio’s attempts to assimilate into high-school culture and keep a low profile while also protecting Earth from the monsters sent to destroy them.  Ilana and Octus (as a nerdy student named Newton) are ostracized, but Lance becomes surprisingly popular in a dark and mysterious kind of way.  In addition, the military views Titan as a threat, and they’re also being monitored by G3, a sort of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Men in Black-esque group that monitors alien activities.  There’s sort of a romance teased between Ilana and Lance, though each of them also has their own separate beau at one point.  In one of the show’s stranger (but pretty charming) subplots, Newton begins dating Kimmy, the most popular girl at school, after he helps her with her math test and actually treats her like a person, which causes him to begin questioning his newly emerging feelings.  It’s pretty unlikely that the most popular girl would ever date an oddly shaped nerd in the real world, ever, but it’s affecting, and prompts one of the show’s most stylish sequences:

As you can imagine, Sym-Bionic Titan is composed of some pretty unexpected influences.  Tartakovsky said he was equally influenced by giant robot anime as he was by John Hughes movies, and it’s surprisingly effective.  It’s enjoyable to pick out the different sci-fi genres on display, from the obvious giant robot and monster of the week shows to movies like Robocop, Blade Runner, and The Thing. The show feels like an affectionate love letter to sci-fi as a genre.

Titan does follow a formula in its early going, where some dispute divides the group, then a monster comes, and the group must get past their differences to defeat it.  Happily, the show demonstrates a willingness to play with or even abandon the monster of the week formula, which does get a little tedious after a while.  Some of the series’ best episodes are devoted to showing us what happened before our heroes ended up on Earth, or are more character-based.  Sometimes, weirdly enough, a giant monster appears just to be easily dispatched, almost as a matter of course.  Unfortunately, the Galaluna subplot is abandoned for several episodes at a time, our only information being that yep, General Modula’s still in power and yep, he still wants Ilana dead.  There’s a little bit of time devoted to showing Galalunians fighting in resistance to the Mutraddi takeover, but it doesn’t get developed very much, at least in the episodes we get. Perhaps had the show been able to continue, it would have explored these plotlines in more depth.

There are plenty of things to like though; the show is really beautifully designed and realized, featuring a combo of Jack’s stylish, outline-free animation style, and the more traditional feel of Dexter’s Lab.  Different episodes do have a slightly different feel, no doubt the product of different directors.  But it’s always wonderfully animated and dynamically constructed.  Even at their most tedious and generic, the monster battles are always well staged and exciting to look at.  The show balances its darker, graver moments with some very funny ones, such as Octus’ (who also poses as Lance and Ilana’s father) attempts to use a little kid’s cartoon to help him better understand how to communicate with humans (or humanoids):

Though the show is geared towards a younger set, it’s also surprisingly dark and even sexual at times, like when Kimmy does a sort of stiptease for Newton (minus any clothing removal) in an attempt to get him to give her the test answers:

That wouldn’t have flown when I was a kid, by golly!  (this sentence brought to you by your grandfather)

So what happened to Sym-Bionic Titan?  Was it low ratings or network disinterest?  Surprisingly, it may be neither of those things.  Some unnamed industry insider said that, while ratings were decent, Cartoon Network opted not to renew the show because it didn’t have enough toys connected to it.  Seriously.  Only in the world of animation is that a concern.  Though it’s basically the same as any other show’s need for merchandising capability, I can’t help but picture a hyper nine-year-old in a business suit surrounded by action figures shouting “I demand more toys!”  Clearly, my mind is a strange place.  I suppose it makes sense that toys would be a concern, but the show isn’t really geared towards the age of kid who would really play with toys, anyway.  That is, unless you’re weird and still collect action figures at 14 or 15 (though to be fair, that’s probably the same group that would also watch cartoons at 14 or 15…unlike myself, who is an adult and hasn’t just spent over 1,000 words writing about a cartoon).  The other sad thing is the toys for this show would probably be pretty badass.  I mean, who doesn’t love giant robots and monsters?  Built in money right there.

So, should it be back on the air? absolutely.  It’s an engrossing, well-made piece of storytelling, despite a few flaws.  Unfortunately, though fans rallied in support, Cartoon Network has shown no interest in reviving the show, and Tartakovsky moved onto Sony Pictures Animation to direct the upcoming CGI film Hotel Transylvania.  Here’s hoping it ends up being good, though with him involved, chances are high.

Join us next time!

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Canned TV Shows #20 & 21: Allen Gregory and Napoleon Dynamite–Canned-imation Double Feature!

May 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Hey folks, leave it to me to kick off a month-long event a week into the actual month.  But that’s how I roll, not obeying those calendars and shit!  Today, we’re gonna look at two back-to-back animated series, one that died an ignoble death, and one whose fate is uncertain; and examine if they’re both wastes or if they deserved more time.

First up on the chopping block is Allen Gregory, co-created by Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill (God, that’s a sentence I never expected to write) with Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul.  The show premiered in October 2011, in that perilous timeslot on FOX’s Sunday night animation block that has claimed many a show, before being left off the midseason lineup and quickly vanishing after only seven episodes.  The show follows the titular protagonist (voiced by Hill), a sheltered, pretentious, unbelievably selfish and manipulative seven year old thrust from his comfortable homeschooled life into public school.  Predictably, things are not easy for Allen Gregory out in the real world; his upbringing has in no way prepared him for a world where maybe he’ll have to earn people’s trust and respect instead of immediately assuming it.  Over the course of the show’s seven episodes, he never even begins learning that lesson.

One of the biggest problems with Allen Gregory is that the characters are unbelievably obnoxious and completely unlikable and unsympathetic.  I have no problem with a show’s protagonists being self-centered and mostly unrelatable–both It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Arrested Development spring to mind–but they at least have to be likable in a funny way.  One of the reasons Sunny works is that the characters bring out the worst and best within each other, and any normal character is steamrolled by the shear insanity of the central cast.  Arrested Development features a relatable everyman at its center in Michael Bluth, who grounds the show as its other characters exhibit absurd levels of narcissism.  Beyond that, both shows are insanely funny, which is not something you could burden Allen Gregory with.

It all wouldn’t be so bad if the show didn’t try to get us to like and sympathize with its horrible protagonist and his equally horrible father Richard (voiced by French Stewart), and actually root for them to succeed over the authority figures in their way.  Not to keep dredging up those two other shows, but they end up working because, at the end of the day, the characters almost never get what they want, and therefore order is restored to the world.  It’s damn near impossible to both laugh at the characters on this show and feel for them at the same time.

For example, When Allen Gregory tries to fire Guillermo, a student at his school, because he assumes he’s a janitor given his Latino heritage, he’s required to write an apology letter.  In his typical fashion, he turns it into a much longer stage play which makes Guillermo look like the villain and him the hero for demanding this janitor do his job or get out.  The crowd initially reacts with rightful vitriol towards the content of the play, and cheers when Guillermo gets up onstage and gives a speech about how racism is bad and we should respect working-class people.  We then find out that they thought Guillermo’s speech was part of the play, and his teacher (voiced by Leslie Mann), is admonished for trying to convince the crowd that it wasn’t.  And so, Allen Gregory walks away unscathed, free to go on being a racist, entitled douche.

On an unrelated note, the show does offer some reasonable voices in the form of Jeremy, Allen’s stepdad (voiced by Nat Faxon); and Julie, his Cambodian adopted sister (Joy Osmanski), and predictably, they’re the punching bags for Allen and his dad.  There’s really nothing to justify Jeremy taking so much abuse, other than the backstory that he was worn down by Richard’s advances until he left his own wife and kids to move in with him, which still doesn’t give him any reason to stay beyond the fact that Richard has money.  The show even brings this up when Jeremy temporarily leaves Richard and tells his troubles to a bartender, who can’t understand why he’s sad.  I couldn’t either, and I cringed at the inevitability that he would go back to that hellhole.  Maybe if the show had more episodes, they’d get to the heart of Jeremy’s feelings for Richard and Allen Gregory, but as it is, it offers no explanation why he should care about these people that treat him like crap.  This might be a weird complaint against a show that features seven-year-olds acting like adults, but since Jeremy’s supposed to be our Alice for this wonderland, it’s jarring to see him acting so pointlessly unreasonable.

Here’s a clip of the actors talking about this relationship, and it seems like even they don’t understand why they act like they do:

This might all seem like I’m being unnecessarily harsh on what amounts to a silly little comedy that stretches realism an absurd amount in the first place, but Allen Gregory just isn’t funny enough at the end of the day to make all its mean-spiritedness okay.  Allen Gregory isn’t a protagonist I can get behind, and nothing in the show even remotely convinces me to care.  I really do like Jonah Hill’s other work, and the voice cast contains some majorly funny people, including Will Forte and the great Keith David (who is criminally underutilized), but the whole thing is just a major misstep in my opinion, despite its promising pedigree.

So, should it be back on the airNope.  There are some interesting ideas at the core of the show, such as why Jeremy stays with Richard, and the fact that Richard was able to, in French Stewart’s words, browbeat a straight man into becoming his lover; and the fact that Richard seems to have adopted Julie out of his own desire to appear charitable.  If the show wanted to be a smart satire, maybe it would explore these things, but it doesn’t seem to have much desire to be like that.

Allen Gregory was replaced on the midseason calendar by Napoleon Dynamite, an animated version of  that seminal mid-00’s film that took the world by storm.  FOX executives were undoubtedly hoping the nation’s infatuation with Napoleon and his awkward pals would have reached a fever pitch by the year 2012, a whole eight years after the movie’s release, so they ordered a show to give us a glimpse into the continuing adventures of its titular geek god protagonist.  Pretty much everyone thought it was a horrible idea, and ratings and reactions declined as it went along.  While it hasn’t officially been cancelled, it also hasn’t been renewed, and the numbers wouldn’t seem to justify a second season from the notoriously cancellation-happy FOX network.  Is it unfair to post about a show that hasn’t officially been declared dead?  You bet!  If it does get renewed, I’ll print a redaction or something, but until that time, on we go!  So is it as bad as it seems like it was destined to be?

Let me start out by saying that after all this time, I am still a defender of the movie.  I think it got blown way out of proportion, but as a tiny oddity with its own sensibility and a poignant undercurrent of sadness, I think it’s pretty successful.  And I don’t buy the criticism that creators Jared and Jerusha Hess were asking the audience to laugh at the sad sacks on display.  Looking back, it’s funny to imagine how much of a pop cultural sensation this weird little movie really was.  I can’t imagine the creators ever expected it to take the world by storm, and it was probably never meant to.  I think a lot of the backlash towards the movie came from unnecessary over-hype, which is a shame.  That said, do I really think the world needed to see more of these characters?  Not really.  The spouses Hess had seen diminishing returns on their films after their initial success, so no doubt returning to their original property seemed like a surefire way to get back in the public eye.  After all, the world loved these characters once before, right?

That all said, I’m happy to report that the show was nowhere near as bad as I expected.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call it good, per se, but it was surprisingly funny at times, and showed a willingness to leave behind its origins and embrace its own style of comedy.  The Hesses developed the show with Mike Scully, a writer and showrunner who had success on Family GuyThe Simpsons, and Parks and Recreation, so I think he knows funny to a certain degree (though the consensus is that apparently his stint as showrunner on The Simpsons was the show at its worst).  It mostly leaves behind the quiet, uncomfortable humor of the original film and leans towards a broader, more absurdist form of comedy that mostly works.  It embraces non-realism, which allows Napoleon’s strange fantasies to come to life in a way that would’ve been jarring in the film.

One gripe I have against the show is, despite being able to rangle the entire original cast back into their roles, some characters aren’t really given much to do, and appear to be there simply because the fans expect them to be.  Though he is a relatively prominent character, I was disappointed with Uncle Rico’s characterization on the show.  He’s still an enterprising boob, but I miss his sleaziness and manipulation from the film.  Here, he’s just kind of an idiot who doesn’t really mean much harm.  Jon Gries was easily the funniest part of the film as Rico, acting as Napoleon’s main antagonist.  The creators appear to want to turn the town of Preston, Idaho into its own world, much like Springfield, Pawnee, or to a lesser extent, Quahog.  They bring back random recurring characters such as a gay Brazilian barber, a bizarre biology professor voiced by Jemaine Clement, along with more expected ones like Diedrich Bader’s martial arts guru Rex.  However, Preston doesn’t earn a place among those memorable television towns, mainly because the characters at its edges aren’t quite as memorable or distinct as the ones in Pawnee or Springfield.  But at the end of the day, I can’t totally fault a show that features moments like this:

Or this, for that matter:

So, take it with a grain of salt, but those who didn’t like the movie might be able to find something funny in the show.  Or maybe not.

So, should it be back on the air? You know, maybe it would’ve worn out its welcome before too long anyway, but I would watch  a short second season.  The show seemed to be settling into its own style by the end, and I think if it were allowed to continue, it may have come up with something unique.  Well, as unique as an animated show based on an eight-year-old pop cultural oddity can really be.

Tune in next time for more animated series!

UPDATE: Napoleon Dynamite has officially been cancelled by FOX.  That was close, i was worried there for minute that I’d be wrong!

Bonus Edition of Canned: Two Worthwhile TV Pilots That Didn’t Become Full-fledged Series

January 16, 2010 1 comment

Greetings all, as a little bonus for your weekend I thought I’d share with you a couple more one-and-done series.  However, unlike the last batch, these two pilots have the distinction of, for one reason or another, not making it on the air.  This is pretty unfortunate, as they both happen to be pretty good pilots.  But I know what you’re thinking, if they’re so good, why didn’t they make it to TV?  It’s hard to say really; it seems the networks were about to take a chance and decided to change their minds at the last minute.  So all we’re left with are the introductions to worlds we would never come to know, and questions we would never have answered, even if only a very small percentage of the population is really wondering all that much.

The first of these is a 2006 animated series called The Amazing Screw-On Head, based on the one-shot comic book by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, who was brilliant at combining dark humor and occult intrigue in those comics.  Screw-On Head is certainly more of a straight comedy than the Hellboy series, and is just as fun in its own way.  The plot concerns a strange superhero-type figure called Screw-On Head, whose name describes his principal ability; namely, that he is essentially a head that can screw on to various robotic bodies for different purposes.  He works for none other than Abraham Lincoln (it takes place in the 19th century), solving supernatural cases and protecting America.  The idea is that there are two versions of our country’s history: one that everyone knows and one that involves the occult and the supernatural, which is kept secret.  I think that’s a pretty neat idea, and the way it ties in with the real history is pretty cool too.

Paul Giamatti voices our hero, who along with his trusty manservant Mr. Groin (Patton Oswalt) and dog Mr. Dog, has to stop an evil plot by the villainous Emperor Zombie (a hilarious David Hyde Pierce), an undead nemesis and former manservant of Screw-On Head.  His plan is to resurrect a demigod used to almost take over the world eons ago, and use him for that purpose once again.  He is aided by “two horrible old women and a monkey,” along with Patience, Screw-On Head’s former lover who was kidnapped by Zombie and turned into a vampire.  It all sounds pretty ridiculous, but it’s a lot of fun, and it’s all handled in a very tongue-in-cheek way.  Apparently the show was going to be on the Sci-Fi channel, and they put the pilot up online with a survey asking whether or not the pilot should be made into a series.  I’m not sure if response was too negative or what, but for whatever reason Sci-Fi decided not to produce the series.  It was also executive produced by Bryan Fuller, who is no stranger to short-lived but high quality TV series (his shows Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me, and Pushing Daisies all got cancelled before their time).  Luckily, what was made is available on DVD and on google video, but it really only wets your whistle with the promise of what could have been a great series.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5434666681046246946&ei=6S5SS_jrHoXSqgKK-7m1BQ&q=the+amazing+screw-on+head#


The next of these unfortunate cases came a year later, in the form of a pilot called Babylon Fields.  This show has the curious distinction of having been greenlit by CBS, and then randomly cancelled before airing its pilot.  On paper, the premise might sound kind of silly: the dead rise from the grave, but instead of wanting to eat brains and tear people limb from limb, these zombies simply want to go back to their former lives.  It could’ve been played for laughs, as in “oh jeez, my dead nagging wife is back to bug me again!  What a ridiculous happenstance!”  But instead, the show actually attempted to examine what it would really be like to have dead loved ones and acquaintances back in your life, for good or bad, and how people deal with that.  One woman is overjoyed to have her husband back, another woman and her daughter (Kathy Baker and Amber Tamblyn, respectively) are terrified that their abusive husband/father is back in their lives.  A cop (Ray Stevenson) is both excited and scared to see his dead wife again.  While there were elements of dark humor in it, it actually deals with it in a believable, emotional way that is really interesting.  Some people are outright outraged by the undead uprising, beating and shooting the zombies, which is all the more disturbing since they act like regular people.  It examines the conflicting emotions that would most likely occur if something like that would happen, and does so in an interesting way.  There’s also a French zombie flick called They Came Back from 2004 that has a similar premise, which could’ve been an influence on the show.  It’s an interesting concept, and one that could’ve been mined for some pretty effective pathos.

It’s really a shame this didn’t get made; the pilot sets up the premise and introduces us to the major characters and conflicts well, and ends with a cliffhanger in which one zombie discovers he was murdered and wants to find out who did it.  There was a lot of potential there, but unfortunately CBS was more interested in giving the awful Viva Laughlin a chance to grow (they both came out in the same year, for the same network). CBS dangled the promise of a mid-season pickup of the show, but opted not to do it.  Maybe if Babylon Fields were on a cable network, it could’ve lasted longer.  Luckily the pilot is available to watch on google video as well, and I’d recommend it.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3315295143249630002&ei=yC5SS7aWIoXSqgKK-7m1BQ&q=babylon+fields#

So there’s a couple bonus shows to check out for the weekend, and I hope you stay tuned for our regularly scheduled programming, which will next be an examination of the 90s sci-fi series Earth 2!  I know a while ago I said I’d look at Aliens in America, and I will soon, but the Earth 2 DVDs are borrowed from a friend, so I must watch them and give them back posthaste.

Canned TV Show #2: Clone High

October 20, 2009 1 comment

Welcome back to Canned, where we dig up canceled shows from the TV vault and breathe sweet life into them for a brief, fleeting moment.  Today’s entry is on the ill-fated animated comedy Clone High, a joint venture with MTV and Canada’s Teletoon network.  I’ll be deciding if this cult favorite deserves its status, or whether it should be buried forever.

Also, I’ll be incorporating video into the post!  Because we all love that, right?  Who likes reading the unnecessarily formal prose of a college student when you can just watch the damn clips he’s talking about?  Well, today’s your lucky day, my lazy friends.

Now that my insulting of my already tiny audience is done, let’s move on to the show.  Clone High takes the relatively clever conceit of having clones of famous historical figures, now grown to teenage years and in a special high school just for them, and uses it to spoof teen sitcoms and dramas as a whole.  And I’ll tell you, dear reader, it is often with hilarious results.

for a little more backstory, let’s turn to indie group The Abandoned Pools to provide us with some info.                                  

As the theme song generously informs us, the clones were created for some sort of government plan, which is never fully revealed by the series’ end.  However, the school’s principal, Cinnamon J. Scudworth (voiced by co-creator Phil Lord) has his own plans for the clones, namely to hold them captive in a clone themed amusement park.  Who are the clones, you might ask?  There’s a large population of clones that populate the school and show up here and there, but the main ones are tall, awkward Abe Lincoln (voiced by Will Forte), who has the hots for sexy Cleo(patra, voiced by Christa Miller), who is in an on-again, off-again relationship with idiotic womanizer JFK (Voiced by other co-creator Chris Miller).  Also in the mix is Abe’s best friend, party-crazed Gandhi (Michael McDonald, not the singer one, the
Mad TV one), and his other gal pal Joan (of Ark, voiced by Nicole Sullivan), who harbors secret feelings for Abe, feelings that he’s too dense to notice.  Other clones show up from time to time, often for the use of random gags.  In fact, one of the funniest things about Clone High is that the fact that the characters are clones rarely comes into play.  instead, the show plays like a straight spoof of other teen shows conventions, and the characters could be just about anybody and it would still be as funny.

The show almost always hits its mark in terms of parody, from the school elections to the presence of drugs to the killing of a character brought in solely for that purpose (which Will Forte denies in his hilarious pre-episode voiceover).  Probably one of my favorites is the aforementioned school election, in which both presidential clones run against each other to win Cleo’s heart.  Mr. Scudworth, meanwhile, needs 2 million dollars for his clone theme park, so he decides to bring in a corporate sponsor for the election, the makers of a paste that’s supposed to give you energy, but really is nothing more than pancake batter and blue paint.  Their entrance at the election is some of the most spot-on parody of “extreme marketing” I’ve ever seen (it’s at about the seven minute mark)

Each episode features a hearty amount of funny moments, and all the characters are endearing.  I have to admit, I’m a big fan of the exploits of Scudworth and his sidekick, Mr. Butlertron.  Scudworth is such an over the top villain and Mr. B, as he’s called, is a great comic foil.  Later in the series, the writers use scudworth to spoof other genres, such as old-timey chasing cartoons like the Wile-E Coyote stuff, with an obnoxious skunk that shouts “try and catch me, bitch!”  In fact, this calls for another of those fancy video clips:

Since there are so few episodes and each one is so enjoyable, I’d say this is one show that should be watched start to finish.  However, the show gets increasingly dark and downright gory as it goes along, and some of the jokes don’t work quite as well.  In the end though, the jokes that hit outweigh the ones that fall flat, and you’re guaranteed to laugh at least once every few minutes or so, if only at the just plain ridiculousness of it all.  Some other highlights include, in my opinion, a rock opera in which the kids get addicted to raisins from a mysterious “Pusher” (voiced by Jack Black), and decide to liberate themselves.  The homages to Tommy are priceless.

In the end, it wasn’t entirely poor ratings that killed Clone High.  In combination with that, its demise came from a force larger and more powerful: the people of India.  Don’t take my word for it, though; here’s one last clip of the creators, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, explaining the show’s downfall:

Reportedly, people in India saw an ad in Maxim magazine depicting Gandhi’s clone in a negative light, and were none too pleased about it.  As Lord and Miller explain, people fasted in protest, and such bad publicity for the network had a hand in bringing the show down.  This explanation leaves mixed feelings in me.  A part of me wants to just tell the Indian people to lighten the hell up, but another part of me understands where they’re coming from.  Gandhi is nothing less than a martyr to them, a hero to millions whose tireless efforts of protest through non-violence gained independence for the nation, so to see his image dancing around naked or being diagnosed with A.D.D. had to be pretty upsetting.  I’m sure in this country, certain people would be upset to see, say, Martin Luther King in that role (though it should be noted, he does show up, but in an appearance that seems calculated not to step on any toes).  In fact, if they were moved to fasting in protest over just an image of Gandhi’s clone, they’d probably shit their pants with rage if they saw the actual show.  However, what the Indian people have to remember is that the Gandhi on the show is not the real Gandhi, but instead is a clone of the real one, a clone who grew up in the American public school system in the 20th century, and may have turned out the way he is on the show.  I doubt the creators of the show planned to insult the memory of one of the greatest people the world has ever known.  It just shows that where you grow up has a profound impact on the person you turn out to be.

So, should it be back on the air? Most definitely.  The series ends on a humdinger of a cliffhanger, with a brilliant two-parter episode.  I’d watch these guys for as long as they can keep up the funniness of the first season, and the characters are lovable, for as pathetic as they all are.  Maybe Lord and Miller can use some of their good will from their first film foray, this years’ winning kids’ book adaptation Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which features similar humor, to get a Clone High movie made to tie up the loose ends of the finale.  A clone can dream…

If you want to check it out for yourself, most of the series can be viewed on youtube or veoh with decent quality.  I’d highly recommend it.

Come back next time, when I’ll be reviewing FOX’s panned sitcom The War at Home!  Unfairly panned?  We’ll see.