The ‘SNL’ Gang’s Shot at Being Awesome is Not So Much

/ Jul 30, 2013



When it comes to pure animation domination, I believe a cartoon (I am old school about such things) must have one of the five “C”s to be memorable amongst the growing pack of machine-drawn, digital funnies. If an animated show or clip is cute, crazy, campy, clever, or crude in some combination, we may have a jackpot on your hands. In the case of Hulu’s new original “The Awesomes,” we are well beneath the “Mendoza Line” with an extremely mediocre spoof that lacks any of our basic “C” elements. We could add one more — crummy — then, we are spot on.

With the full force of some recent SNL alums, “The Awesomes” is a short-of-the-mark, tongue-in-cheek story in which the leaders of a world-renowned team of superheroes disband when their leader retires.  His son, a goofy-yet-brainy guy out to prove his worth to the studly dad, Mr. Awesome, is slotted as his replacement. Prock, the less-than-powerful son, voiced by “SNL”’s Seth Meyers, aims to assemble a new team of Awesomes while facing governmental cutbacks (somehow there was a point to that misplaced story arc) and disinterest from those most suitable for the job. In a totally telegraphed plot twist, Prock gathers a team of misfits, with either dubious powers or odd personality quirks to take on the evil Malocchio, voiced by Bill Hader, also bearing an “SNL” stint on his resume.

Like the current iteration of “SNL,” “The Awesomes” tries way too hard. The end result is more “ha-ha” and “yeah, that’s funny” than the sort of deep-down laughter that comes from a deft-yet-cringe-worthy gag from Seth MacFarlane, a poignant social dig from “South Park,” or a crazy, crude, off-the-wall zing from (my personal favorite) “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” I find “The Awesomes” is far too safe to be a standout, making me wonder aloud whether the censored-bleeps I heard in my Xbox “sneak preview” of the show will result in honest-to-goodness cursing when the show debuts to the masses.

I get where Hulu is going with its original content. As its very fate swings from on the block to its n-th try at organic success, Hulu is attempting to mimic Netflix’s path of creating over-the-top differentiation through new programming. On such a path, as every network has learned over the past nearly seven decades, a successful strategy goes beyond throwing shows against the wall hoping some will stick.

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