Dream Corp LLC: Series Premiere Review

Adult Swim’s newest series is a dive into the absurd as beautiful art direction brings the chaos of dreams to life.

This Dream Corp LLC review contains spoilers.

Dream Corp LLC Season 1, Episode 1

“Looks like you’re ready for us to put you under. It’s going to get pretty weird in there…”

Adult Swim has put so many unique, groundbreaking programs into production that it’s especially exciting when some entirely new idea falls into their laps. Somehow the territory occupied in Dream Corp LLC hasn’t been hit on before, and in fact it almost feels like a Charlie Kaufman or Michel Gondry series. At the least, it’s easy to see Dream Corp also being on the 7½th floor and some subsidiary of LesterCorp or Lacuna Inc. While Dream Corp might not be the most polished or hilarious pilot that the network has ever turned out, it is one that is distinctly different and feels like it’s verging on something special.

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Daniel Stessen’s creative voyage into the subconscious also proves to be an exciting new program because of how much it operates like absurdist theater during its first half. This is the sort of Adult Swim show that Samuel Beckett would get high and watch. Conversations are technically going on but at times it’s as if the lines are just random pieces of dialogue. You’re as bewildered and lost as Patient 88 is. Look, it’s a talking robot! Ahh, it’s a giant frog! The show does a great job at putting you in the place of its lost protagonist.

With this more erratic style of comedy fueling the program, the staff of Dream Corp that’s bringing all of this to life is made up of the strong comedic ensemble of Stephanie Allynne, Mark Proksch, Stephen Merchant (as a robot), and Jon Gries who is headlining the whole thing as Dr. Roberts. They all feed off of each other’s energy well and while the real focus is Dream Corp’s patients, this cast makes up a strong foundation that will help keep things moving in the right direction. While on the topic, the show’s rotating cast, in terms of its patient-of-the-week dynamic, is also a refreshing aspect. I would also think that such a concept will allow some big names to drop in from time to time due to the little commitment involved.

There’s a very obvious MYST3K vibe going on within Dream Corp LLC, but it’s frantic, guerilla quality also reminded me of stuff like Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace or the world that Terry Gilliam builds in Brazil in a lot of ways. All of this mad scientist riffing is merely prelude though to what this show is really all about, and that’s getting into these patients dreams. Dream Corp LLC records their dreams (and does a lot more with them too, if you’re able to make it through all of the boilerplate).

Dream Corp goes into their patients’ dreams in order to cure them of some sort of ailment, like impotence, alcoholism, or stage fright, with their dream ideally getting to the root of their problem This access of the dreams sees the episode flipping over to a rotoscoped look and it’s pretty damn beautiful. Like really gorgeous stuff. Adult Swim is pretty proud to publicize that this as their first rotoscoped series (and I can’t think of any other examples anywhere either), but after looking at how successful this looks, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got more down the road.

With Dream Corp coming from Daniel Stessen, this rotoscoping style is what he got known for and it’s also how his impressive independent film, The Golden Sparrow, is put together. Furthermore, the episode even has a justified use for this swap in style, rather than this pretty device being turned to for no good reason. Stessen uses the technique admirably and it’s easy to picture how future installments will use this device to great effect. It’s the perfect sort of pilot that gives you a great taste of what this show will be week-to-week, yet obviously the content within each patients’ dreams is going to be wildly different and allows the show variety within its conformity.

While I’m not entirely won over by this first episode, Dream Corp LLC’s pilot does exactly what a pilot should do, which is show off its premise and leave you wanting more. There’s a tremendous amount of potential here, and while it’s obviously too early to be thinking about a second season, with the huge quality jumps that so many Adult Swim shows see in their second years now that their learning curves are over leaves me super curious about what Stessen and Co. can do with this show. In the meantime, I’m just excited to see more messed up dreams, whether they’ve got Dave Coulier in them or they don’t.

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Dream Corp LLC premieres on Adult Swim on October 23 at 11:45pm.


3 out of 5