Monday, November 10, 2008

New Shows on Hulu

All the latest non-anime additions to (I have the anime coming in a separate post). Enjoy!

Presented from Worst to First
Episodes: None
Clips: 10 clips, which form a cohesive storyline when strung together
Studio: Fireworks International
Rank: F
It's rare that I find a show as annoying and condescending as this one. The animation is kind of Ren and Stimpy-ish, and the titular Mr. Patel is a stereotypical Indian convenience store owner. But whereas Apu from the Simpsons (and really, how many indian convenience store owners do we need in the cartoon universe?) is a gentle character, Mr. Patel just seems like a hateful racist stereotype. The jokes are all based on bodily functions, sex, or racial typecasting, and I didn't think any of them were remotely funny. Someday, society is going to look back at this and be very ashamed.

Episodes: Nineteen episodes, running 24 min each
Clips: None
Studio: Sony
Rank: D
I don't know whether I want to make a shrine to this show, or just drown it in the bathwater like it deserves. It's an atrocious 1982 sitcom that focuses on the nerdiest kids in school trying to navigate daunting social obstacles to achieve popularity. The jokes are stale, but it doesn't matter, because the laughter is canned. The first three episodes feature a young Sarah Jessica Parker, and it's worth checking out just to see her trying to mug her way through the godawful dialogue. Just because I'm giving it a low rating doesn't mean you can't like it.

Episodes: Four 10 minute episodes
Clips: Two clips
Studio: Oxygen
Rank: C-
To hell with all of these manufactured situations driving the plots of these shows that purport to bring us behind the scenes of a celebrity's life. In this case, the celebrity is rap legend Coolio, and the manufactured situation is his effort to launch a catering business. The opening credit sequence emphasizes his street credibility and gangster roots, but it's a little hard to take seriously when it's followed by him mugging for the camera and trying to read lines as though they're spontaneous. If you're a huge fan of Coolio, this is going to be good, but otherwise, you're going to have a hard time holding your lunch in.

Episodes: Twenty six 44 minute episodes, which comprise season 2
Clips: None
Studio: Sony
Rank: C
This vampire/crime show hybrid deals with Nick, a vampire who is serving as a homicide detective in order to atone for 700 years of feasting on humans. The mid-90's stank in which it was produced is stamped all over every scene. The dark and brooding city, the police personnel with tough-love witticisms, and the haughty vampires sneering at us mere mortals are all overly-familiar tropes, and this show brings nothing new to the table. Instantly forgettable.

Episodes: Twenty six episodes, 44 minutes apiece
Clips: None
Studio: MGM
Rank: C +
I had only a vague memory of the old AG, with all of my AG memory brain-space devoted to Hulk Hogan, Crush, Laila Ali, and Titan. But revisiting the old episodes makes me realize how far the show has come. Worse sound quality, worse hosts, lower-budget challenges, and even more cheese, if you can believe it. The old AG is indistinguishable in quality from rival Battle Dome. Malibu is the head gladiator, and his golden locks make him look like third runner-up in a Fabio look-a-like contest (while his fake valley-boy jargon makes him sound like the prizewinner in a Big Freaking Dork contest). So, if you can't tell, I added all 26 episodes to my queue. What can I say? The spirit of the show-- athletes competing against each other in wacky physical challenges-- remains intact. And I'm a big sucker.

Episodes: None
Clips: Nine clips, most of which are between 3 and 4 minutes long
Studio: FEARnet
Rank: B
I went into this with very low expectations-- I thought it was going to be some low-grade attempt to convince us that various American locations were host to ghosts and ghouls. But it's actually a spotlight on some of the best home-grown haunted houses in the United States. Ordinary homeowners who have gone beyond the pale with their Halloween house decorating proudly show off their animatronics, projectors, or real boxes of maggots, all of which are employed to scare trick or treaters on that special day. The camera work is a little shoddy, with nary a steady focus on house exteriors to be found, but they're well worth the four minutes it takes to watch each segment.
: One 44 minute episode
Clips: None
Studio: SCI FI
Rank: B+
Chase is a high octane reality show that tries to bring a simulated video game experience to life. The idea is that 10 players enter a game board, which might be a several-block section of a warehouse district. They have to grab up tags representing cash prizes, and be the first to exit the safe door, which opens 60 minutes later. Clues direct them to prizes and pitfalls around the board. Only the first person to safely leave the gameboard gets to keep their cash. The catch is that there are some enemies on the board, a group of suited "hunters" who can eliminate players just by touching them. So it amounts to a grand, crazy game of tag that is probably exhilirating to play. I also found it to be very watchable, despite some less than ideal camera work.

Episodes: None
Clips: 37 clips, all of which run 7 minutes
Studio: Fireworks International
Rank: A-
This is a must-see, if only for the shock value. The concept isn't earth-shattering in today's modern world. A group of happy-go-lucky anthropomorphised cartoon animals set out to have some fun, but meet grisly death instead. What is earth-shattering is the execution. The seven-minute segments all draw from a genuine-feeling replication of a Saturday morning cartoon. The characters don't speak, although they vocalize in ways that make them easily understood. The cheery anonymous music in the background is a perfect touch. And the deaths! Oh, the deaths! Let me put it this way: it's a rare segment when we don't see someone's spinal column. There is a constant innovation in the story lines that somehow makes the simple concept work time after time. And the over-the-top torture of the animals is so outlandish and cartoonish that we can cringe and laugh at the same time. Highly recommended, and the best new show of the week.


The Hulu Man
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