Hot Streets Season 1 Review (Spoiler-Free)

Adult Swim’s latest animated series is the perfect blend of hard-boiled crime and supernatural absurdity.

Hot Street Season 1 (Spoiler-Free)

“You broke God’s neck…”

In a lot of ways, Hot Streets feels like a series that mashes together sensibilities from both Adult Swim’s original programs and its current slate. There’s an improvisational, rough around the edges feel to this show that simultaneously pairs its minimalist nature to layered, Dadaist storytelling like you’d find in Venture Bros. or Rick and Morty. Hot Streets is a deeply fascinating animated series. It’s impossible to predict and it turns overdone clichés into inspired, unique narratives.

The series follows the “Hot Streets” division of the FBI that investigates supernatural investigations and occurrences. Think of it as The X-Files, if that sci-fi branch of the FBI had an even cooler name. The series follows brash agent Mark Branski who works alongside his fresh, optimistic partner David French, his niece Jen, and her cowardly “talking” dog, Chubbie Webbers. In addition to the whole X-Files angle, the series crams some Inspector Gadget in for good measure with Jen and Chubbie Webbers. It’s worth mentioning that Hot Streets comes from Brian Wysol of Rick and Morty, and previously Robot Chicken, fame. This series feels like a hybrid of those shows and many of these stories and situations could easily work within Rick and Morty’s absurdist framework. Yes, this is technically a “cop show,” but episodes leave the planet, break the laws of nature, and so much more.

Hot Streets succeeds in establishing its frantic tone and universe early on. The show doesn’t waste a lot of time on what the “Hot Streets” division is exactly—which is almost part of the joke—but it’s pretty easy to ascertain that they investigate paranormal cases. This approach is uniform for most of the show and opportunities where other vehicles might spoon feed their audience answers or exposition is when Hot Streets just further doubles down on its chaos. It allows the show to fit a remarkable amount into its lean eleven minutes.

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Throughout all of this monster bashing, episodes wisely shift their focus to each of the show’s cast members. This keeps stories feeling varied and unique, while it also surprisingly fleshes out these stereotype-like characters. The performances of these unusual crime fighters become quite infectious. There’s also an unusual rhythm and style to the dialogue. It’s at times frenetic and crazy, but at other moments it’s slow and methodical, yet it builds to a pace that works for it and becomes quite entertaining.

Hot Streets also does a good job at making Branski and company all fun characters that the audience wants to spend more time with. Justin Roiland’s random voice is very present here, especially in the lesser background characters from the show. His performance as Chubbie Webbers is also confounding as it should come across as annoying, but it strangely draws you in and becomes one of the best things about the show. Additionally, due to how loose the show’s premise and guidelines are, it feels like there are a seemingly endless supply of stories here. This instantly gives Hot Streets an advantage and a more attractive shelf life than if it was just a grounded police procedural that’s funny.

The series also embraces its crude animation style, rather than hide from it. That being said, there’s still a detailed charm to this look. There’s such a perfect soundtrack and synth-y score to the show too, which also happens to be done by Wysol! All of these aesthetics are punctuated by outrageous, monster-of-the-week crime-related madness.

There are plenty of brilliant ideas here like spine monsters, aliens, mummy outbreaks, murder powder, or ominous rifts in the sky from Snake Gods. Each episode plays into a different trope of absurdity. Hot Streets still tries to make its monsters and gore the focus and it doesn’t flinch from its content. Other moments really focus on Chubbie Webbers’ weirdness and stay on it to the point where it becomes uncomfortable. The show loves to play into these tendencies and to make its audience squirm. Chubbie Webbers is the show’s unpredictable wild card and it pushes this as far as It can go.

Adult Swim is full of animated quarter-hour comedies, but Hot Streets feels like a breath of fresh air. It’s prepared to abandon its crazy storylines or ideas with no notice or consequence, which gives it even more freedom in the end. There are crazy detours that happen in episodes like police badges that turn into light sabers or “outer space” becoming “every space.” Go on a ride with these guys and you’ll soon want Hot Streets to become a regular stop on your commute.

Hot Streets’ debut season premieres January 14th at midnight with back-to-back episodes. This review is based on the first three quarter-hour episodes of Hot Streets’ first season.

Rating:

4 out of 5