The superhero renaissance has begun and the comedy genre, and Hulu, wants a piece of the action. The Awesomes, Seth Meyers‘ new animated comedy, brings us an interesting cast and a new take on a tired premise.
Mr. Awesome, the greatest superhero ever, has decided to step down from his position as head of the greatest superhero team ever: The Awesomes. Jeremy “Prock” Awesome (Seth Meyers), Mr. Awesome’s son and newest member of the team, is excited to fill the role, but doesn’t quite fit the bill; Prock’s only powers are his intelligence and a life-threatening ability to stop time. The job is offered to Perfect Man, an obnoxiously arrogant hero, but he turns it down. Prock offers to run The Awesomes, but everybody quits besides Muscleman (Ike Barinholtz), Prock’s best friend. No big deal; a duo can get a lot done in the superhero game, especially with the resources that are available to them. They can succeed, but that won’t do. The U.S. Government, who is funding the whole operation, invokes a rule: You must have eight members to receive funding. With the help of Concierge (Emily Spivey), the newest and only member of support staff, they dive into the reject file in search of the other six members.
The ensemble nature of the show has forced the pilot to be seventy percent focused on acquiring new characters, so we’ll focus on The New Awesomes.
- Prock: We’ve already discussed Prock, but we never discussed his superhero name. Prock has a JD and an MD, making him a Professor AND a Doctor: thus Prock.
- Muscleman: Muscleman is stereotypical; all brawn and no brains. Add his comically upbeat attitude and completely unacknowledged attempts at flirting, and you’ve got a pretty complete picture of what he’ll be for the rest of the series.
- Frantic: The first super they extend an invitation to is crazy. Like The Flash, Frantic is one of the fastest men in the world, with a mouth to match. Taran Killam pulls off the southern, excited accent with pizazz. Easily my favorite hero, Frantic is sure to charm most audiences.
- Impresario: Kenan Thompson, who voices The Awesomes’ version of Green Lantern, is a welcome addition to the cast. Impresario can construct whatever he imagines. The problem is he has mother issues, so everything he constructs carries his mother’s voice and visage.
- Sumo: Sumo, voiced by Bobby Lee, is the only hero with another identity: Tim. Tim is an eleven-year-old Asian boy who has the power of The Hulk, but, instead of a giant green monster, becomes a sumo wrestler of massive strength when he’s angry.
- Gadget Girl: Voiced by Paula Pell, is the only original member of The Awesomes still around. She can create… things. I’m really not sure what she does, but it’s probably gadget related. The important thing to note about her is that she’s eighty, but was hit with a youth-ray. Now she’s a twenty-something woman straight out of the 1940s.
- Hotwire: With seven members, the team is one short from reaching the requirement—so they hold auditions. Prock proceeds to fall in love with Hotwire, voiced by Rashida Jones. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this show, it’s that Rashida Jones has a voice as attractive as she is. Hotwire’s past is unclear, which adds some mystery to this show.
Of course, you can’t have a superhero team without a super villain — that’s where Dr. Malocchio comes in. Malocchio is voiced by Bill Hader, who is absolutely incredible; he uses a deep Spanish voice, with a hint of flamboyance. Dr. Malocchio can control minds, but Mr. Awesome and Prock are both immune to his ability. Since Mr. Awesome is gone, though, Dr. Malocchio feels free to let himself out of prison to take over the world.
The Awesomes has an all-star comedy cast, brought together by Seth Meyers. Despite the experience of the writers (many of them claiming Saturday Night Live on their resumés), I experienced a low laugh-to-joke ratio. Unlike most human emotions, humor can be quantified (as any comedian will tell you) by laughter. For every five jokes, I only laughed at one of them — a 1:5 ratio. With every new series (especially comedy) the first couple of episodes tend to feel awkward and forced. There are several reasons for this: the writers are still getting used to the characters and each other, the actors are still getting used to the characters and each other, the dialog is wasted on plot instead of jokes, and the jokes are wasted on plot instead of whatever is funny. This exact situation is why I use the three episode rule: I make sure to watch, at the very least, the pilot plus two more. The pilot, in this case, was an hour long, and the second half showed some promise. Unfortunately, I can’t endorse the show as anything more than watchable in it’s current state (and I’m being charitable with that). Always the optimist, I’ll be sure to keep an eye on the show for signs of true hilarity.