Fox's new Animation Domination High-Definition programming block—or ADHD, for short—finally premieres tomorrow night. It's only a half-hour long, but it still counts as a block because it's still contain two shows; basically, Fox is bringing the Adult Swim model of 15-minute series for "adults" to network TV. Kicking things off will be the animated duo of Axe Cop and High School USA!. But is either show worth your time? I've seen the premieres of both, and I'm here to help you decide exactly that.
What are Axe Cop and High School USA all about?
Axe Cop is a lowbrow, totally immature superhero cartoon for adults. Which is probably because it's based on an internet comic that was created, at least partly, by a 5-year-old boy. As you might expect, it details the adventures of Axe Cop. Axe Cop functions on two minutes of sleep a night, and the show follows him and his partner Flute Cop as they carry out whatever special missions happen to come their way.
High School USA! is basically what it sounds like: a series about a group of ridiculously upbeat and positive high school students—note the exclamation point in the show's title—who fill out the basic character archetypes: the bully, the nerd, and the dimwitted pretty girl, etc. The series aims to tackle social issues in a satirical cartoon form, kind of like what Degrassi would be like if it were funny and a satire. And a cartoon.
When do I report for doody?
Tomorrow night! Though both shows have already aired special previews on Fox, both Axe Cop and High School USA! officially debut Saturday, July 27 at 11pm on Fox.
Who's responsible for these animated hijinks?
Axe Cop was originally created as a web comic by a pair of brothers named Malachai and Ethan—ages 5 and 29, respectively—with Malachai doing the "writing" and his older brother illustrating. They're involved with the show as well, and Nick Offerman—the man behind one of the greatest TV characters ever, Ron Freaking Swanson—voices the titular axe-wielding policeman. Offerman's dry, laconic delivery translates well to the role; in fact, I'm not entirely convinced Axe Cop isn't just another Swanson alter ego, akin to the saxophone-playing Duke Silver. Joining Offerman in his cop-ly duties as is someone who seems like he could be the literal incarnation of a dude who lives on only two minutes of sleep a night, Ken Marino. Marino plays Axe Cop's partner, Flute Cop.
High School USA! comes from the mind of Dino Stamatopoulos, who's a fixture over at Adult Swim but is probably best known outside animation circles as the "late" Greendale Community College student Star-Burns on Community. The voice cast includes Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men), Mandy Moore, and T. J. Miller. Bonus: New Girl's Jake Johnson lends his pipes to the school principal.
Who will want to stay in on Saturday night to watch these shows?
In a way I'm actually the perfect person to give you this rundown because I'm an unbiased observer. I haven't watched much Adult Swim in the last few years, so if I like this stuff, there's a pretty good chance it'll translate to the masses. The masses who enjoy dirty, satiric humor, of course.
Axe Cop: If you like poop jokes, zombies, and possibly also dudes with mustaches who look and sound exactly like what you might expect an animated Ron Swanson to look like, then Axe Cop is exactly what you've been waiting for your entire life.
High School USA!: This one's a bit harder to pinpoint, probably because it's not as funny as I was hoping it would be. Or maybe it's because I watched Axe Cop first and I like my stoner-friendly comedies less satirical and more about dinosaurs eating the brain of a character known as the King of All Bad Guys. But if you're looking for something that's still relatively ridiculous yet a little loftier than poop soldiers, High School USA! is probably more your style.
What's good about Axe Cop and High School USA!?
Axe Cop: Wait, you mean other than Nick Offerman? Well, there's the non-linear storytelling that makes no sense but works, and then there are characters with names like Army Chihuahua (Giancarlo Esposito), who used to be a soldier but forgot to feed his chihuahua when he went to war so when he came back it bit him and now he is a chihuahua.
High School USA!: Um. Give me a few minutes, maybe I can think of something.
What totally sucks about Axe Cop and High School USA!?
Axe Cop: I'm sorry, I don't understand the question. If you prefer your shows to have a point, or if you really hated the chicken fight from Family Guy, you'll probably think this series is terrible. Otherwise, nothing.
High School USA!: Other than the fact I'm already annoyed there's an exclamation point in the title, the satire in the series premiere of High School USA! falls a bit short. The episode addresses anti-bullying PSAs by having one of its always-positive characters not actually realize he's a bully. There's also a joke about a man sticking his face through a hole in a bathroom stall and waiting to be punched in the face that flat-out made me cringe.
Bottom line: Should I watch Axe Cop and High School USA!?
Sure, because what else are you going to watch that late on a Saturday night? Golden Girls reruns? Embrace the immaturity you try to hide all week while you're at work and just accept it. And come on, they're animated series, we don't need them to be The Wire. But in all seriousness, Axe Cop is worth a look. High School USA! isn't, really, but the episodes are so short that it almost doesn't matter.
Can I see a trailer just in case?
You want a sneak peak of an 11-minute show? Fine. Here you go:
What should I drink while watching Axe Cop and High School USA!?
See if you can get your hands on some of Axe Cop's special Poison Soda. But if that doesn't pan out, Mountain Dew works too.