SOUNDBITTEN'S GUIDE TO ONLINE ANIMATION
Note: For those of you busy people who do not have time to read
our short reviews, we provide a visual rating system designed to convey our
assessments in the most economical fashion possible. The metric
we use to determine a show's relative merits is the "Katzenberg." Unlike
most ratings systems, ours operates on the principle that more
is less: that is, four Katzenbergs mean the show is awful, three means
it's fair, two means it's good, and one means it's excellent.
Title: "Anita Bomba"
Media: Real and Windows Media
If there's one rule worth following in the entertainment business, it's
this: Never write the lede for a bad review. The last thing you want to
do is give the bastard who is about to trash your Web show an easy place
to start. Case in point: "Anita Bomba." Anita isa a bomba -- a disastrous
bomba. The alien-world adventures of a shapely, bomb-chucking thief and
the doleful cop who pursues her, "Anita Bomba" suffers from nearly every
malady that can afflict three minutes of animation: lackluster voicing,
worn-thin visual and genre cliches and woefully Schwarzeneggerian dialogue.
The characters are ugly, the action is off-screen and even the coloring -- a
failed noir that looks more like sepia -- says dull, dull, dull.
Can't say the title didn't warn you, though.
Greg Knauss (10/30/00)
Title: "Joe K. Citizen"
Well, as horrible as, say, "Sex and the Inner City" is, at least it has
a semi-inspired, if largely unexploited, concept at its core. "Joe K. Citizen,"
on the other hand, is a series about a guy named Joe K. Citizen. Joe
lives in the suburbs, he has some children, and he likes to barbecue.
In other words, he's a lot like Hank Hill. The twist here?
Unlike "King of the Hill," "Joe K. Citizen" isn't funny. Which
isn't much of a twist, as far as twists go. But who knows? Maybe future
episodes have some surprises in store. For example, maybe
Joe K. Citizen isn't a citizen at all. Maybe he's actually an illegal
alien, from Canada. That would be something, wouldn't it? A Canadian who likes
to barbecue? Well, it'd be something more than this, anyway. G. Beato (11/06/00)
Well, we like Half Japanesey, Ramonesy, Sleater-Kinneyish guitar noise as
much as anyone. And we like talking alien cats too, so you think we'd
like "Katbot," which features a talking alien cat who travels from outer
space to Long Island to study teenage Earthlings and listen
to indie rock. And to a certain extent we do like "Katbot."
Like many real cats and many real indie rockers, Katbot hides
her various anxieties under a varnish of superficial detachment,
and so there's lot of promise for humor there. But in the first
episode, at least, "Katbot" mostly comes off like a less realized
version of Daria, who herself comes off like a less realized
version of Janeane Garafalo. While it's nice to see an online
series that goes for subtlety rather than shock value, "Katbot"
could ultimately use more bite. G. Beato (10/30/00)
Title: "Kozik's Inferno"
Animators bitch endlessly about the pressures put on them from above
and below, and the cruelly restricted channels separating them from their
audiences. Well, the web has supplied formerly marginal animators with
that channel at last, and for the most part they have done dick about it.
Case in point: Frank Kozik's "Kozik's Inferno."
"Kozik's Inferno" is a cartoon retelling of Dante's Inferno, but with a
Porky Pig clone as the narrator and the afterlife depicted as a modern
bureaucracy. It's hard to say which gag is older and unfunnier --
Disney and Warner Bros. wore the first joke thin by mid-century, and R.
Sikoryak put it to bed for good with his brilliant Raw features like "Blonde Eve"
and his own "inferno" starring Bazooka Joe. As for Minos portrayed as a
Judge Judy-style gavel banger, and Richard Nixon dutifully serving his new
fiefdom as the gatekeeper to judgement, America's editorial cartoonists can
rest easy knowing that no convention has been violated.
This is a story that would benefit from some decent visual
storytelling, but in an effort to conserve bandwidth, I
imagine, nobody moves more than they have to, and expressions
have a way of not changing. As for the script, it's mostly
just faux-classic comics paraphrases of Dante, delivered
in a stuffy, faux-British voice, setting up sight gags
that aren't much interesting. Formally, this might be the best that
the web can provide, given the technical complexities of pushing visual motion
through limited bandwidth. But the much more limited bandwidth of
Kozik's imagination isn't getting fixed any time soon. Stuff like is why I get
groggy when I hear the words "web animation." Give me streaming porno
any day. Josh Ozersky (11/06/00)
* * * * * * * * * * *
Title: "Modern Living"
Over 75 minimalist scenarios of existential, surreal angst from some guy in the
Netherlands named Hoogerbrugge. In "Drunk," he wobbles around in
his trademark black suit as a disorienting tape loop plays. Mouse over
him and he hiccups. Click on him and he unloads great
streaming jets of stylish orange vomit. Very European!
G. Beato (11/06/00)
Title: "The Paula Principle"
So much for the Web as the great play-field leveler. "The Paula Principle,"
written by "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David, is so much better than the
standard online fare that it almost makes you believe that those Hollywood
guys know what they're doing. More a promising start than anything
brilliant in itself, "Paula Principle" offers up a suddenly terrified
presidential candidate - "I'm an idiot!" he wails - and enough grounded
animation and voicing to let you forgive the lack of outright laughs. It's
a rare show that leaves you wanting more - and if "The Paula Principle" ever
returns from its current two-month hiatus, we'll be first in line.
Greg Knauss (11/06/00)
Title: "The Prom Queens"
The press release announcing "The Prom Queens" describes
the show as a cross between "Josie and the Pussycats" and
"Sex and the City." Well, it's almost as funny as "Josie."
And just about as musically adept as "Sex and the City."
So, sure, we'll buy that description. Actually, we're being
a little too mean, probably. The original songs featured
in each episode of "The Prom Queens" are better
than that annoying "Sex and the City" theme song, and definitely
the best part of this series. On the other hand, while
the show's three main characters have been color-coded
to match their "Sex and the City" prototypes (there's
a blonde-haired slut, a dark-haired prude, and an acerbic
redhead), their uninspired banter crackles like, well,
what would crackle even less than a sack of soggy goose down?
Forget the "Sex and the City" ladies, these characters
are barely a match for Jack, Chrissy, and Janet.
With its unconvincing girl talk and constant references
to pore strips, douches, "deoderant re-dos," and hairy toes,
we thought perhaps "The Prom Queens" was the work of a
couple of male, middle-aged Procter and Gamble brand
managers, but a sitcom writer named Jillian
Tohber is the show's actual creator. Allegedly. We're sticking
with our Procter and Gamble theory for now...
G. Beato (11/06/00)
Title: "Queer Duck"
Seeing as how it's the year of the homosexual on TV, what with that
"Will and Grace" Emmy triumph, it comes as no surprise that Icebox.com -
which makes no bones about its desire to sell its wares to TV - is
tackling homosexuality with its new series "Queer Duck." For the
most part, it's a fresh take - if, at the very least, because
all of the main characters are talking gay animals. Featuring
Queer Duck, Openly Gator, Bipolar Bear, and Oscar Wildecat, tart scripts
by Simpsons writer Mike Reiss, and hilarious voicing by semi-celebrities (Jm. J. Bullock, Rupaul),
"Queer Duck" provides a handful of laughs per episode. In
addition, prolific web animator Xeth Feinberg ("Hard Drinkin'
Lincoln", "Bulbo", "Astro Chimp") gives "Queer Duck" a charming,
sweetly colored visual veneer that contrasts well with the
show's no-holes-barred debauchery. But while "Queer Duck" hits
more than it misses, the quality of the scripts has dropped since
the first episode. Queer Duck, the character, is a one-trick
pony - er - duck. He's just really, really stereotypically gay.
Three episodes from now will we still want to listen to
anal sex and drug jokes? Well, maybe. Does that mean we're gay?
Jami Attenberg, 11/06/00
Title: "Sex and the Inner City"
The theory must be that a grimace can be mistaken for a grin, because
that's the only possible explanation for the over-the-top offensiveness --
and complete dearth of laughs -- in "Sex and the Inner City." If you manage
to ignore everything in this feeble, one-note parody of "Sex and the City"
that isn't racist or classist or stereotyped or just stomach-turningly
gross, you're left with, well, not a whole lot. The graphics are nice when
not intentionally ugly and the voices and sound effects are well-handled,
but, Lord, are body-cavity searches funny? Bullet-destroyed skulls? Rat
disembowelment? Squeeky-squeeky sex noises? The series has so far averaged
what is identifiably a joke every five minutes or so, resulting in a
grand total of one (1) vague smile and a heaping wheel-barrowful of
throat-constricting disgust. There's rarely been a better argument
against the First Amendment. Greg Knauss (10/30/00)
Title: "The Wonderful World of Oz vs. Oz"
Coming up with the premise for "Oz vs. Oz" must have been exhausting,
because nearly everything else in the premiere episode of this weirdly
pointless show is mournfully lackluster. A bizarre combination of "The
Wizard of..." and the HBO prison series, "Oz vs. Oz" places a 98-pound
weakling -- quickly dubbed "Dorothy" -- in a cellblock populated by
toughed-up versions of the Scarecrow, the Lollipop Guild and the
Tin Woodsman. Though the herky-jerk animation is offset by the
better-than-average voicing, the rest of the show is wildly meandering,
never coming close to defining itself: Oz vs. Oz... and? Is it a
comedy without jokes? Is it a drama without tension? Is it yet
another excuse for Romp to show yet another blowjob? Yeah,
probably that one. Greg Knauss (10/30/00)
Disclaimer: G. Beato has written for the following online animated
series: "Like, News", "God and Devil," "Lil Pimp", and "Creamburg." In addition,
he has pitched show ideas to producers and entertainment portals whose work has been or may be reviewed in
Soundbitten's Guide to Online Animation. Jami Attenberg has written for
the online animated series "Katbot." She has also pitched show ideas to producers
and entertainment portals whose work has been or may be reviewed in Soundbitten's
Guide to Online Animation.