Friday, July 19, 2013

Fox Animation Domination HD Reviews: Axe Cop and High School USA - Premieres July 21; Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 22, 2013)

The Goodwin Games

Axe Cop & High School USA - Saturdays at 11:30PM ET/PT on Fox
Premieres Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 9:30PM ET/PT


by Vincent

Fox's Animation Domination Hi-Def is a new late-night line-up of animated series that's set to air on Saturday nights from 11:00 PM to 11:30 PM. The line-up consists of two new animated comedies - Axe Cop and High School USA. The first, Axe Cop, is an irreverent cop show spoof starring the voice of Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation, 21 Jump Street) and Ken Marino (Children's Hospital, Party Down), while High School USA is a satirical teen-centric cartoon helmed by Community's Dino Stamatopoulus. Both shows have a fast-paced, erratic sensibility to them, clearly influenced by similar late-night cartoons on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim and meant to put Fox back in the late-night game - a game they've more or less retired from since canceling MAD TV and Talkshow with Spike Feresten in 2009. The shows will be getting a special preview this Sunday, July 21 at 9:30 PM before moving to their regular timeslot next Saturday (July 27).

Cast Details:

Axe Cop:
Nick Offerman as Axe Cop
Ken Marino as Flute cop
Rob Heubel as Grey Diamond
Giancarlo Espositio as Army Chihuahua
Tyler the Creator as Liborg

Nick Offerman (Axe Cop) has spent the last several years playing the beloved Ron Swanson on NBC's Parks & Recreation. He has also appeared in a number of comedy films, most recently including 21 Jump Street and The Kings of Summer. He has appeared in guest roles on shows such as Deadwood, George Lopez, and Children's Hospital.

Ken Marino (Flute Cop) is currently starring as Dr. Glenn Richie on Adult Swim's Children's Hospital. He also starred as Ron Donald in the Starz cult classic Party Down. He has appeared in guest roles in shows such as Veronica Mars, Charmed, and Reno 911.

Rob Heubel (Grey Diamond) can currently be seen on Adult Swim's Children's Hospital as Dr. Owen Maestro. He is also known for his sketch comedy work on MTV's Human Giant, as well as guest appearances on shows such as Arrested Development, The Office, and 30 Rock.

Giancarlo Esposito (Army Chihuahua) can currently be seen as Tom Neville in NBC's Revolution. He is perhaps best known for his role as Gus in AMC's critically acclaimed drama Breaking Bad. He has also appeared in guest roles on shows such as Bones, Once Upon a Time, and Community.

Tyler the Creator (Liborg) is a rapper who broke into the music scene in 2009 with his debut album Bastard. He won Best New Artist at the 2011 Video Music Awards following the release of his sophomore album Wolf. His previous television work includes guest spots on the comedies Workaholics and The Mindy Project.


High School USA:
Vincnet Kartheisher as Marsh Merriwether
Mandy Moore as Cassandra

Vincent Karteisher (Marsh Merriwether) is best known for his acclaimed role as Pete Campbell on AMC's Mad Men. He also has a number of film credits, appearing in films such as Another Day in Paradise and Crime and Punishment in Suburbia.

Mandy Moore (Cassandra) is an actress as well as a recording artist. She was known for hit singles such as "Candy" and "So Real," and has appeared in hit films such as The Princess Diaries and A Walk to Remember. Her previous television work includes guest appearances on The Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother, and Grey's Anatomy.


Pilot Plot:

In the first episode of Axe Cop, entitled "Night Mission: Stealing Friends Back", badass crime fighter Axe Cop heads out on a special night mission after fellow superhero Bat Warthog Man's friends go missing. He assembles a team of rag-tag assistants to rescue Bat Warthog Man's friends and save the day.

In High School USA's "Bullies," upbeat teen Marsh Merriwether learns a valuable lesson when his best friend is accused of bullying, as Cassandra and her friends prepare for the "It Gets Better After High School" high school dance.


Analysis:

First off, I think it's a pretty interesting idea that Fox is using Adult Swim-esque animated comedies to try and get back in the late night game. It's fairly obvious they are looking to capture some of that late night, young male audience that Adult Swim has coveted, and why shouldn't they? It was re-runs of Fox shows such as Futurama and Family Guy that put that network on the map and, no doubt, helps to keep it running today. So if fans of Fox shows are watching Fox on Adult Swim, why wouldn't they watch Adult Swim on Fox? Plus, it's great to see the Fox animation brand branching out and trying new things, instead of just repeating the same Seth MacFarlane formula over and over again. If this works out, it's an interesting step for Fox's brand, and perhaps for network TV in general. But are the shows any good? For the most part, I'd say a cautionary "yes." I wouldn't call either of these episodes perfect, but there's clearly a lot of craft and talent behind them, and they seem like they could certainly score Fox the dedicated following they seem to want with them.

Let's start with Axe Cop, which I thought was clearly the stronger of the two shows. Like most late night animated comedies, there's very little rhyme or reason to anything that happens on this show - it's, more or less, a bunch of loosely tied animated sketches bound together by a vague sense of plot. These kinds of shows pretty much live or die by their humor - if they're hilarious, then they're some of the absolute funniest stuff on TV. If they fall flat, they feel cloying and completely pointless. Axe Cop isn't exactly hilarious to the point where I was laughing out loud constantly, but I was extremely amused the entire way through by the show's irreverent sensibility and pitch-perfect comedic dialogue. Like every show ever, it'll probably need a few episodes to find itself - but when that happens, it's not at all hard to see Axe Cop turning into something hysterically funny. The show aims to be sort of a loving spoof of the classic superhero movie, and it does a great job subtly but surely creating a satirical world that nails all of the elements of that type of story. From the look and feel of the show to the way the characters talk, it's a really great send-up of the tried-and-true superhero formula. And yet, it doesn't beat you over the head with it. It's subtle enough that you know what it's getting at, but you're not constantly being bombarded with "hey, look, see what we're doing here?!"

And that's what makes Axe Cop a stronger offering than High School USA, which I liked to an extent, but felt a little overwhelmed by the obvious satire of it. High School USA is aiming to be a satire of teen life and, more specifically, teen television. Obviously, pretty much everyone has taken a potshot on things like teen soaps and high school movies, so for High School USA to succeed, it has to try and say something new. To its credit, it kind of does - the show takes the popular "bullying" topic and puts a funny, fresh spin on it. But it felt a lot like the show spent the entire time saying "see how funny and FRESH all of this is?! Most teen shows would do this plotline like this, but WE'RE doing it like THIS!". The satire was really overbearing, and on a show like this, overbearing satire gets extremely old really fast. Having said that, High School USA is a show I can see getting better with time if it tones down its "this is SATIRE!" angle a bit. It has a strong comic voice, coming from Dino Stamatopoulos of Community fame, and it had a handful of lines that I laughed out loud at. It just feels like it's a bit too clever for its good - especially compared to the more subtle satirical bite of Axe Cop. There's a good show somewhere in there - let's hope that someone finds it at some point.


Conclusion:

Fox's head-first dive into late-night animated comedy is a risky move that could either pay off brilliantly or go down in flames. I can't tell you which one it'll be - but I can tell you that these shows are good enough to root for the first option. Axe Cop, in particular, is a show that I could really see turning into a cult hit in the way that the most successful of Adult Swim's shows have - it's very funny, it's already established a great comic world, and it has an excellent voice cast. I'm less sold on High School USA, but I think there's potential in it for it to find itself and turn into something quite good. At the very least, both of these shows should be commended for bringing a fresh new voice to the face of network television - there's really nothing like them anywhere on the major networks, and the fact that Fox is willing to give shows like this a try is really refreshing. This is certainly an interesting pair of shows, and if you have any interest at all in the alternative, edgier side of comedy, they're worth checking out.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Axe Cop:
Watchability: 4.5/5
Funniness: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

High School USA:
Watchability: 3/5
Funniness: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Overall Block Rating: 3.5/5

Discuss both shows after you watch them on Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 9:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

Axe Cop
  • Axe Cop Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Axe Cop Photo Gallery

    High School USA
  • High School USA Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • High School USA Photo Gallery

    Previews:






  • It's Friday, so it is time for "Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows" for the coming week. This is where we list what sitcom stars are appearing on talk shows for the coming week, the stars are both current and past sitcom stars, so this is for all sitcom fans of all eras!
    For the week of July 22-26, 2013, we have many current sitcom stars and past sitcom stars on TV talk shows! All times listed are Eastern. So get your DVRs (or whatever you use) ready! Ready? Here is all what you need to know for the coming week!

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    • Jim Rash (Community) and Nat Faxon (Ben and Kate) - Watch Jim and Nat on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Louis C.K. (Louie) - Louie guests on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at 11pm.
    • Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback) - Lisa chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. She will also be on NBC's Today between 7-9am.
    • Ricky Schroder (Silver Spoons) - Ricky is a guest on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Ross Lynch (Austin & Ally) - Ross talks about about his new movie Teen Beach Movie on Marie at 12pm on Hallmark Channel.
    • Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Tune in to see Whitney on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
    • Max Greenfield (New Girl) - Max appears on a repeat of Anderson Live, so check your local listings.
    • Melissa Joan Hart (Melissa & Joey/Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) - Melissa talks about losing her baby weight on Katie, so check your local listings.
    Tuesday, July 23, 2013
    • Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback) - Catch Lisa on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) - Selena appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Anna Camp (The Mindy Project) - Tune in to see Anna on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Louis C.K. (Louie) - Louie visits Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 12:37am on NBC.
    • Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) - Aubrey is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Rob Lowe (Parks and Recreation) - Rob stops by The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Michael J. Fox (The Michael J. Fox Show/Spin City/Family Ties) - Michael appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check listings.
    • Ellen DeGeneres (Ellen) - Ellen takes over Ask Steve! on The Steve Harvey Show, so check your local listings.
    • Vicki Lawrence (Mama's Family) - Vicki appears with Carol Burnett and Tim Conway on a repeat of Anderson Live, so check your local listings.
    • The Cast of Hot in Cleveland - The ladies of Hot in Cleveland dish on upcoming guest stars, on-set antics and aging in Hollywood on Katie, so check your local listings.
    Wednesday, July 24, 2013
    • Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men/That '70s Show) - Watch Ashton on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Teri Polo (Man Up!/I'm with Her) - Teri visits The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) - Eric appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check listings.
    • Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory) - Melissa is a guest on a repeat of Anderson Live, so check your local listings.
    • Yvette Nicole Brown (Communnity) - Yvette guest co-hosts a repeat of Anderson Live, so check your local listings.
    • Shirley Jones (The Partridge Family) - Shirley Jones has a revealing interview on love, sex, family and relationships on Katie, so check your local listings. She will also be on New York Live at 12:30pm on WNBC.
    Thursday, July 25, 2013
    • Kevin Nealon (Weeds/Champs) - Catch Kevin on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Margaret Cho (All-American Girl) - Margaret guest co-hosts The View on Thursday and Friday on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
    • Anthony Anderson (Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Anthony visits The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
    • Fran Drescher (Happily Divorced/The Nanny) - Fran appears on a repeat of Anderson Live, so check your local listings.
    • Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback) - Lisa drops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
    • Marilu Henner (Taxi) - Marilu guest co-hosts a repeat of Anderson Live, so check your local listings.
    Friday, July 26, 2013
    • Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback) - Watch Lisa on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Anthony Anderson (Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Anthony stops by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 12:37am on NBC.
    • Selana Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) - Selena guests on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
    • Kathy Griffin (Suddenly Susan) - Kathy guest co-hosts a repeat of Anderson Live, so check your local listings.
    • Scott Baio (See Dad Run/Charles in Charge/Happy Days) - Scott meets three fans on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
    • Ricky Schroder (Silver Spoons) and Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show) - All-time favorite Hollywood hunks of TV, film and music from the '80s and '90s! Catch up and get the latest scoop on the lives of Ian Ziering, Ricky Schroder, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Dean Cain and Christopher Atkins on Katie, so check your local listings.
    Leave us comments on our message board or Tweet/Facebook us to let us know what you think of this Friday feature! We do listen!


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    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 17)

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    • Edi Patterson (The Righteous Gemstones/Vice Principals/Partners) - Catch Edi on Watch What Happens: Live at 3:30am on Bravo.


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