Tag Archives: Unsupervised

Spring 2012 Review: Unsupervised

30 Apr

The two on the left are Unsupervised

It’s looking like a three strikes and you’re out situation for new animation in the 2011-12 primetime television season.  The fall started us off behind in the count with Allen Gregory and Napoleon Dynamite, and the spring brings us a swinging strike three with new FX cartoon Unsupervised.

Unsupervised’s protagonist are two high school freshman, Gary and Joel, voiced by Justin Long and David Hornsby. respectively.  Hornsby is best known as recurring character Rickety Cricket on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and as the creator and co-star of terrible short-lived fall 2011 CBS sitcom How To Be a Gentleman.  Gary and Joel have just entered high school, and are eager to get the girls that are supposed to come with it.  While they want to be sophisticated and get girls, they enjoy the pleasures of the simpler things in life though, like riding their bikes, and creating a lightning rod, and jumping off one of their roofs onto bushes.  They’re Unsupervised because both of their parents are out of the picture and the two of them, though relatively poor, basically live in their houses on their own most of the time.  Because of their unusual living situations, they realize later they can have people over to drink, or throw giant parties without concern.

They need to grow up though, portly African-American friend character Darius (voiced by Weeds’ Romany Malco) tells them.  No more kid stuff – clean clothes, mature attitude, partying, alcohol, drugs; that’s the way to women.  Meanwhile, female friend character Megan (voiced by Kristen Bell) goes the other way – they don’t need to party to have fun, or have sex before they’re ready – good clean teenage living is the way to go.

Wacky side character alert:  It’s an animated series.  Of course there’s a couple of wacky side characters.  First, we’ve got latino neighbor Martin, who speaks with a thick accent, and tries to act as a mentor to the boys – telling them to avoid the partying ways of his own daughter.  Second, we’ve got Australian neighbor (Russ?  Maybe?  Not worth watching the show again to find out)  who lives up to every Aussie stereotype and participates in the weirdest flashback sequence where it turns out he was once in love with a kangaroo.

It’s not very funny.  Allen Gregory tried a lot of gags where I could easily see what they were attempting, and it just failed.  Unsupervised is a step away from that.  It just doesn’t work.  It’s not really an absurdist show; it’s vaguely juvenile and tyring to hit the perfect so-stupid-it’s-funny here and there.

It’s easy to box animated comedy together, but there’s so many different types.  While there’s unlikely in the near future to be a Two and a Half Men of animation, because cartoons skew younger, there can be as relatively conventional shows as King of the Hill as well as absurdist fare like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and everything in between.  Many of the gimmicks which made animation unique have been taken live action in shows like Childrens Hospital and Eagleheart.

Unsupervised doesn’t try to be absurdist or super clever or super reference-y or super droll.  I don’t think it’s quite as base as Beavis and Butthead, but there’s probably an influence there, or at least an attempt at one.

Will I watch it again?  It’s not going to happen.  It’s a shame such admirable voice talent is wasted on seriously grade B material.  I think maybe it’s particularly hard to figure out if animated material works before seeing it in action, but this doesn’t, and it’s not just slightly off.

Spring 2012 Preview and Predictions: Cable (besides HBO)

6 Jan

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall (now spring!) television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13

Spring note:  It’s a lot harder to analyze midseason shows as there’s no collective marketing campaigns going on at one time, as many of the shows start dates are spread (or are even unannounced for some)  Still, we’ll take partially educated guesses.  Also, they’re a lot less likely to get partial pick ups, so maybe that trade off will make it easier)

All other cable networks here.  USA and TNT are holding their new shows until the summer, so we’ve got entrants from BBC America, FX, Showtime, Starz and MTV.

BBC America

The Fades

The Fades has already aired in Britain but will be making its American debut this spring.  From a writer of Skins, The Fades is a supernatural show which revolves around the central concept that spirits of dead people who couldn’t get into heaven are all around us, known here as the titular Fades.  The main character Paul is a teenager who has apocalyptic dreams and the ability to see these Fades, an ability shared only by a select few, known as Angelics.  The Fades are bitter, and have slowly made progress in their attempt to have an impact in the real world, leading to a possible battle with the Angelics which Paul will be in the middle of.

Verdict:  Renewal – I shouldn’t really even have this category for imported shows – British shows generally air short runs anyway per season, six in this case, and it’s already aired months ago.  That said, there’s no official word, but as it’s been popular and well-reviewed across the pond this is just the smart money.


Unsupervised – 1/19

Unsupervised is an animated series co-created by David Hornsby, best known as recurring character Rickety Cricket on FX hit It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  He also created and starred in the quickly cancelled How To Be A Gentlemen last fall on CBS.  Hornsby and Justin Long voice the main two characters, 15-year old best friends.  Kristen Bell, Romany Malco, Fred Armison, and Kaitlin Olson also have roles.

Verdict:  12- David Hornsby did not impress me with How To Be A Gentlemen, though FX has had a lot more success with quality comedies than CBS.  FX has a pretty good record overall, and there’s a clearly illustrious voice cast.  I’m really not sure why I’m skeptical, and hopefully it will be good, but it looks bad to me from the poster and I’m semi-arbitrarily voting against.


House of Lies – 1/8

House of Lies is a comedy about the hilarious world of management consulting, starring Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, and Ben Schwartz, best known as Parks and Recreation’s Jean-Ralphio.  Honestly, the first time I heard about this show, about management consultants working for clients around the world and doing whatever needs to be done to get the project finished and make money, I thought for sure it was a high intensity drama, especially since it was starring Don Cheadle, who is not exactly known for his comedic roles.  The fact that it’s a comedy floored me initially.

Verdict:  Renewal – don’t really know what to think, but Showtime, like HBO, which it desperately wants to be, likes to give shows second seasons if they do anything at all.


Spartacus: Vengeance – 1/27

This is kind of misleading.  I have no idea how to consider Starz’ continuing line up of Spartacus shows.  My normal inclination would just be to consider them different seasons of the same show, but Starz doesn’t exactly consider them that, and tragically the actor who played Spartacus died, so maybe that’s a factor.  Because Starz seems to, I’m going to treat it as a new show, though it’s clearly not.  A new actor takes on the Spartacus role and it’s filled with all the sex and violence that the Spartacus name has come to represent.

Verdict:  12- More cheating – so far each Spartacus has been treated as its own series, so it seems likely that if there’s another Spartacus, which there well may be, it will probably have a new name and thus be considered a new series.  I don’t really understand it, either.


I Just Want My Pants Back – 2/2

It’s about a twenty-something trying to figure out life, love, sex and work.  Could it possibly sound more generic?  The minor gimmick which gives the show its title is that the main character’s pants are stolen after a one-night stand and the character looks all over the city to find the pants and the girl who took them.  I’m guessing it won’t be good based on the fact that I don’t give a ton of credence to MTV original programming (I’m already too old to be the target audience, really) and most shows that sound like this are probably bad (even though the set up is so generic it could be any level of quality).

Verdict:  12- I have no idea what it takes for MTV to continue original series.  I must admit I’m mostly unfamiliar with MTV original series and don’t really have a beat on who watches them or what it would take to continue them.  This is nothing more than a guess in the dark.