Last night's episode of Ugly Americans - "An American Werewolf In America" - expanded the show's weird NYC universe with unruly lycanthropes, exploding magic lions, wizard open mic nights, and yes, a Brobdingnagian toddler attorney.

In the second episode of Ugly Americans, the show doled out three interlocking story arcs: social worker Mark Lilly's misadventures in court-ordered werewolf obedience training, his coworker Leonard Powers' wizarding (and sibling) rivalry with the famous sorcerer Christ Angel, and Mark's zombie roommate Randall's full moon flesh cravings. Yes, Randall wants to eat his friend, but Mark isn't having it.

All in all, the episode was a character showcase for Leonard, a drunk, washed-up spell-slinger, who despite his arcane talents, just can't get his shit together. He's too crippled by booze and insecurities to advance beyond his thankless Department of Integration gig and too square to become a big-time warlock like his brother. Even his magic bear the imprimatur of loserdom - to advertise his upcoming open mic spell-casting performance, he blows up a lion filled with blood...and confetti. Leonard is a great X-factor for the show - he's easily the show's most powerful character, but too much a dipsomaniac jack-off to advance beyond smarmy civil servant.


As for the werewolf integration subplot, Mark's class slideshow gives us some insight into the history of UA's pan-fictional New York City. In the olden days, New York was run by vampires, who rankled at the new Irish immigrants (above, and yes that is an anthropomorphic potato). This leads to scenes of a Gangs of New York style brawl so bloody that the class' Koala-Man starts to cry. This is the second time we've seen the lachrymose Koala-Man, and I'm banking that we see him weep once an episode from now on.

The show's at the top of its game when it carves out its own mythology - the scenes with dueling Irish and Vampire pizzerias and the werewolf's giant baby lawyer (he wins cases by tossing a giant bowl of spaghetti on his head) harken back to Liquid Television levels of weirdness. On the flip side, the parodies of Chris Angel and Lord of the Rings feel a bit stiffer and seem more on par with American Dad levels of weirdness. Ugly Americans is funniest when it goes whole hog with its conceit rather than more generic one-liners.


As it stands, the series is 2-0. With its kinetic animation, cast of thousands, and Easter eggs jammed into background shots, Ugly Americans has a high re-watch value. Also, given that Mark has his toes eaten off the second episode in (he also dies, but I'm not going to spoil that scene), it looks like the show's preoccupation with bureaucracy is 100% warranted. Cue me off, giant baby lawyer.