Comedy Central has a history of being rather hit or miss with its shows, from the ironically good shows like Broad City, to the exhausting ordeal that is Drunk History, to the mess that is Triptank. Some of you may remember CC’s “Come for the South Park, stay for the Ugly” that used to exist, before Ugly Americans got bumped off to the trashbin. Well they’ve got another show to stick around for now with the neon drenched Moonbeam City.
When I saw the first trailer, I thought to myself two things:
1. This doesn’t look very funny. What is this, Archer drawn by Patrick Nagel?
2. I’m gonna watch every episode of this. Archer drawn by Patrick Nagel and starring Rob Lowe? With a name like Moonbeam City? Even if it’s garbage it’ll still look pretty.
Well that’s all well and good, but is it funny? Being a comedy on a channel called Comedy Central means it’s gotta be funny. Surprisingly yes, it is funny, considering how downplayed the trailers for it originally were, since they showed none of the show’s snappiness. At the time of writing, the first three episodes have aired, with seven more to go in the coming weeks.
The show has a rather small cast, with other minor characters orbiting around them on an episode to episode basis. The four main characters being Dazzle Novak, voiced by Rob Lowe; Rad Cunningham, voiced by Will Forte; Pizzaz, voiced by Elizabeth Banks; and Chrysalis, voiced by Kate Mara.
“From the relaxing shores of the Moonbeam Bay, to the highest heights of the observatory, there’s no city more fun, or more safe,” our sweet voiced narrator announces, introducing us the brightly colored, sunbathed wonderland full of pretty girls, and smiling faces staring back at us from a television screen.
A brick immediately goes through a window, breaking the television screen sitting in an electronics store. The sun fades away, and we’re introduced to the real Moonbeam City and its seedy underground, still neon drenched, of course.
Small children with shotguns, seemingly dead women-of-ill-repute, dastardly purse snatching, and setting old women on fire, but never fear, Dazzle Novak is here! Even though he wasted half his bullets to draw a penis on the side of a van, he still has two bullet-nope. Missed every shot.
But that’s okay. Dazzle Novak is out loveable idiot hero who sucks at his job, and sucks at it with such raw enthusiasm that you may actually think he’s competent. With his stylish Miami Vice clothes, fashionable purple eyeshadow, and perfect hair, he’s truly a sight to behold.
Oh, it’s not okay. No one thinks he’s competent. He just sucks. After his humorous failure in stopping a random street thug, we’re informed by Genesis Jones, Moonbeam City’s newsman, that the thug Dazzle failed to stop turned that $42 of purse money he got from the old woman into an empire of drug trafficking, arms dealing, infant neglecting, and later on giving-cocaine-to-dogs-and-releasing-them-in-elderly-communities. It’s a hard life being a criminal.
After being chewed out by Pizzaz, his boss, for his incompetency, and his whoring, he’s robbed of his treasured possessions, his gun and his #1 Cop mug, until he can buckle down and catch the newly risen crime lord he created.
Predictably, Dazzle realizes that his actions have consequences, takes down the crime lord through hard work, and earns the respect back from Pizzaz that he lost.
Wait, that’s not what happens? He decides to manage a big-eyed mall singer and forms a new-wave ensemble?
First we need to be introduced to two more characters and follow the plot to its not-so logical conclusion, the juvenile Rad, Dazzle’s archnemesis rival detective, who is now in possession of Dazzle’s #1 Cop mug, and Chrysalis Tate, the fresh faced straightman to Dazzle’s antics, longing to go out in the field like Dazzle is blessed to be able to. Chrysalis easily convinces Dazzle to let her tag along through mild extortion, and sets off to aid Dazzle on his undercover mission, in which Dazzle, sporting an impressive false mustache, disguises himself as a janitor while Chrysalis sits in the van.
Dazzle immediately gets bored and wanders off for a break, meeting Aiaiaia, the aforementioned mall singer, singing an ethereal song accompanied by wind chimes, just in time for El Diablo Malo and his men to appear right outside the van shooting up some masked mooks. Chrysalis calls for help, but Dazzle has more important things to worry about than police work, like sitting in the foodcourt and talking, and getting his face touched. Rad and Pizzaz are quick to the scene of El Diablo Malo’s carnage, finding an embarrassed Chrysalis and learning that Dazzle has gone rogue. Pizzaz dismisses some of Rad’s thoughts in a pretty funny way, and good lines are had all around.
After a magenta fueled love scene, Dazzle dedicates himself to making sure everyone can hear Aiaiaia’s beautiful music. And when Dazzle Novak sets out to do something, it gets done.
Dazzle goes on to surprising success with Aiaiaia, moving to all the fabulous Moonbeam City malls, playing her enchanting music, and getting a #1 Manager Mug from it. Rad is not pleased at this development and gets his own alluring beauty, and after ambushing Dazzle to get his #1 Manager Mug, tries to steal his mall playing glory. You know, like a detective does.
From here on, the show gives plenty more great one-liners and visual gags, culminating in an acceptable, but not great conclusion to El Diablo Malo’s reign of terror, and ending Aiaiaia’s story on a joke I found too funny for my own good.
I give this pilot episode to a promising series a solid A-. There’s not much to complain about, and there’s a lot to like.
Catch Moonbeam City Wednesday nights on Comedy Central, right after South Park.
The Good, Bad, and the Miscellaneous:
The throbbing theme song and smiling shots of the main four characters are a great introductory sequence, and the pulsing synth background music fits perfectly with the stark artstyle. I really can’t overstate how pretty this show is.
Rad shooting stuff is funny. He just shoots open doors.
The flowerpot gag with Dazzle was a miss for me. It was very strange and out of place. But one miss in a sea of hits isn’t so bad.
The show races off at a mile a minute, fueled by 80s cop shows, stark white skin, flashing neon, and more sparkly names than a brony can shake a stick at. In a good way.
Quick visual sight gags, somewhat rare nowadays. Not just sight gags, gags that are immediately then followed up by yet another gag, building off the first! This is a good show to stay focused on.
Chrysalis’s bright orange hair really stands out next to everyone’s jetblack hair. Not sure if that was the best character design choice for her.
Will Forte’s a funny guy and all, but his voice doesn’t work for me as Rad.
Besides the three segments broken up by commercials, each episode so far has had a humorous stinger at the end that lets it end with however kind of joke it wants. This lets the show end on a high note.
Not being split into an A/B plots is good. Sure there’s two things going on, but that’s just because Dazzle is actively trying to avoid his duty while everyone else attempts to rope him back in.
Everything out of Dazzle’s mouth is a one-liner. Everything. While Rob Lowe’s delivery makes it more often than not a delight, it may get on some viewer’s nerves after a while.
It gives off Archer vibes at times, which may lead to it being compared unfavorably to a more established show.
I hope your brain’s hungry. It’s having bullets for dinner.
The madman answers to El Diablo Malo, translation, “The Bad Devil. A name as uncreative as it is terrifying.
How else will people know I’m the Number 1 cop? I can’t drink out of a trophy, I’ll look ridiculous!
Rad Cunningham, King Dick of the Ass Forest.
Rainbow candies can’t take down a warlord.
It’s a game of cat and mouse. He is the cat and the mouse. I am a machine that crushes cats and mice.
Typical morning for me: I wake up at five, take out six phones, make seven calls, throw three phones away. It’s a good system and it works for me.