Ugly Americans' cast of undead, enchanted, and cybernetic New Yorkers offers plenty to amuse B-movie fans. But it's the frenetic animation from Augenblick Studios that really gives the new comedy series its bite.
In Ugly Americans, social worker Mark Lilly (Matt Oberg) is a big-hearted man alone in the big city. Literally. No, really - his roommate Randall (Kurt Metzger) is a zombie, his boss and covert office squeeze Callie (Natasha Leggero) is a hellspawn, and the rest of New York is populated with vampires, cryptids, wizards, anthropomorphic animals, and the stray disembodied brain. Just as the real-life New York is an agglomeration of ethnicities and subcultures smushed within an area the size of a cubby hole, the NYC of Ugly Americans is a culture clash of Z-grade horror tropes. Squids and werewolves smooching in the streets! Robots stealing jobs! This would never fly in Peoria.
The "shared fictional universe" conceit of Ugly Americans will appeal to fans of Alan Moore's superhero-cop drama Top 10 and Futurama, where the curious, macabre, and phantasmagorically fucked-up must be codified, bureaucratized, and normalized. In UA's Manhattan, zombification is a lifestyle choice, complete with niche industries like flesh replacement parlors and synthetic chins. You can go to Hell, but you might lose cell phone reception. Cosmically-powered wizards occupy underfunded social service jobs. None of this makes a lick of sense, but hey, life in New York doesn't either. I'm not trying to sound platitudinous here. At 5 PM the other day I saw some guy whip out his dong and hose golden an incoming 2 train. Not one of the 100 commuters paid the wicked pisser heed. As I said, none if this makes a lick of sense.
|Ugly Americans||Tonight 10:30pm / 9:30c|
|Preview - Fun Bags|
What makes Ugly Americans so much more than a prime time Groovie Goolies Take Manhattan with boob jokes? The Tex-Avery-on-mescaline animation of Augenblick Studios. You may recognize their work from Superjail and select Wonder Showzen shorts (Winobot!).
Augenblick has the kind of style that you either love or hate posthaste. Me? I love their hyper-detailed, throwaway sight gag humor. Every screen shot is like a Where's Waldo, only Waldo is getting eaten by a pack of feral dogs. The visuals are a huge boon to the series - even when a joke totally rimshots, there's a vampire hardware salesman or weeping koala-man to keep things zippy. Like the strange fellow whizzing on your briefcase during rush hour, Ugly Americans exhibits signs that it's finding its way, but overall the spectacle of its urban circus is too heady to miss.
Ugly Americans airs at 10:30 PM tonight on Comedy Central.