Adult Swim is a network that has become synonymous with taking chances and embracing the unconventional. That mission statement is present in everything from its programming, to its advertisements, and in this case, even how they go about selecting their new series. Adult Swim has uploaded four new pilots—the animated Hot Streets, Bad Guys, and Apollo Gauntlet, and the live-action The Hindenburg Explodes!—and wants you to weigh in. These shows come from the likes of people like Rob Corddry and Paul Scheer, with a ratings system that spans from “Laugh,” “Boo,” “Costanza,” “Tomatoes,” and “Kill This.” I know which option Mr. Heyman, Jerry and George’s phys ed teacher, is going to be leaning towards.
Adult Swim’s programming decisions have come under a little bit of attack recently regarding how insular they are. This example of outsourcing through democracy is one way of openings things up a little, even if the bulk of the prospective series here are coming from big names that are already working with the network. But here’s the rundown of the four pilots. Let’s find out which one is the next Aqua Teen and which one is the next Minoriteam!
Hot Streets follows two FBI agents who hunt down supernatural occurrences with the secret help of one of their nieces and her cowardly dog, Chubbie Webbers (think Inspector Gadget). Hot Streets promises to dig into things like alien invasions, monster attacks, and government conspiracies. It comes from Brian Wysol, with the help of Seth Green, Matt Senreich, John Harvatine IV, and Eric Towner (the Robot Chicken team).
The “Hot Streets” division is the series de facto X-Files department of all of the weird cases that show up and these two bumbling detectives continually apply the wrong approach to the disposing of danger. Prolonged fights, scenes of disaster, and other moments that linger on monsters all give this show a very strong presence that’s as in your face as its violence. The series operates at a chaotic pace where an alarming amount is fit into its quarter-hour. Hot Streets is a crazy ride down an unpredictable neighborhood, but you’ll love every minute of it. It’s my favorite of the animated series here and I need more demented stories of it already.
An infectious, synth-y soundtrack is the icing on the cake here, as is Justin Roiland’s whiny performance as Chubbie. You could watch this show with your eyes closed and it’d still be enjoyable (but don’t do that, ya’ freak!).
Coming from the always delightful Paul Scheer (NTSF: SD: SUV:: and Filthy Preppy Teen$) and Nick Giovannetti, this quarter-hour animated series mashes up the world of terrorism with haute couture and fashion. Scheer wants to combine style and taste with world domination and the results are something very uniquely silly here. Imagine if Dr. Doom’s real dream was to run Vogue magazine. Figuring out the right logo for their evil criminal organization takes precedence to battle plan. More than a few times Bad Guys reminded me of the counter take on superheroes and villainy at play in Frisky Dingo, with the unhinged lead here not feeling too far removed from Killface and his style of approach. The minutiae of being a bad guy is this show’s bred and butter and while they’re not the first to play with this idea, there are still some fun things at play with definite room to grow. None of the other shows here feature a rumplestiltscop.
Plus, having the voice talents of people like Chelsea Peretti, Jason Mantzoukas, Andy Daly, and June Diane Raphael is never a bad thing either.
Based on the web series of the same name on “Rug Burn,” this animated quarter-hour is created by Myles Langois and it sees a cop from Earth getting trapped in a strange world. With the help of magical talking gauntlets though, this cop is finally able to fight crime in the absurd way that he’s always wanted.
There’s a certain charming quality to Apollo Gauntlet’s simpler animation style that raises it above the other animated fare. There’s a very clear voice present. Pulling a little from He-Man’s repertoire and more classical animation from the ‘60s and ‘70s, Apollo Gauntlet delights in getting into weird combative situations of chivalry. There looks to be a strong library of material to pull from, and an already exciting rogues gallery of creatures that have been hinted at in the first episode alone. Apollo Gauntlet looks like it has plenty of room to sharpen its already strong tools and I hope that it gets the opportunity to. I was already liking this show a lot, but then I saw a scene where Apollo rolls a giant ball into his enemies while shouting “KATAMARI DAMACYYY!” and then I was loving this show.
Also, that theme song is just catchy, catchy bliss.
The Hindenburg Explodes!
The sole live-action entry among the bunch, The Hindenburg Explodes! comes courtesy of Rob Corddry, Josh Perilo, and Jonathan Stern and marks Corddry’s follow-up series to Childrens Hospital now that his former series has wrapped up. Boasting a strong cast of alt comedy favorites like, Lauren Lapkus, Danny Pudi, Kevin MacDonald, John Cho, and Nate and Rob Corddry as the Wright Brothers, the series charts the momentous/disastrous voyage of the Hindenburg.
And Nazis, Nazis, Nazis!
Hindenburg carries much of the same broad slapstick appeal of Corddry’s other work, yet it will jump to dark, surprising places that has comedy forcing you to stay on your toes. Frankly, this series feels a little limited, what with the clear endpoint for the series, not to mention a lot of other shows dipping their toes in the history well now, like Another Period. But then again, maybe that’s the whole point of all of this. Much like setting a series aboard the Titanic, Corddry plays with the very obvious history that is awaiting all of these people and rubs it in your face ruthlessly. Plus, Nazis, Nazis, Nazis!
While I might be a little concerned that Corddry will have more trouble pulling stories from this premise than he did with Childrens Hospital, he’s still a creative giant with a strong team at Abominable that can surely pull an idea as ridiculous as this off. He still manages to fit soul-sucking mummies and the reveal that John Cho’s character has traveled back in time into this pilot, so clearly the show’s agenda is to subvert history just as much as it is to pay respect to it. Figuring out which of these imbeciles is the one responsible for blowing up the blimp is going to be a lot of fun.
And hey, if the pilot doesn’t go forward, at least you know what they were building up to!
Time will tell which of these pilots connects the hardest and brings in the most votes. One can’t help but feel that an experiment of this nature might have been better suited to a collection of pilots from unknown names.
That being said, maybe the whole point here is that Adult Swim has more or less made their decision anyway and are just looking at this data as a means of reinforcing what they already know (it’s hard to imagine The Hindenburg Explodes! not moving forward, for instance). In that case it’s at least nice that we get to see a handful of pilots that won’t get to go forward, with many of Adult Swim’s failed offerings never seeing the light of day. Regardless of how crucial the data is, it’s interesting to see Adult Swim pursuing this direction and we’ll see if this sort of thing becomes more regular for them.