I’ve just started watching Kroll Show (named for its star and creator, comedian Nick Kroll) recently but it’s already risen to the top of my list in terms of TV- so much so that I’ll be taking this Fame Day to recommend it to you.
Now in concept alone, Kroll Show isn’t anything new. Each episode is comprised of skits (interspersed lightly with commentary from Kroll and his comic co-stars) riffing on television, with reality TV taking the brunt of the riffs. You’ve probably seen this done before in less successful enterprises or recognize it as roughly 50-85% of all Seth McFarlane jokes.
Last week saw the death of Family Guy‘s Brian Griffin. One of the most central characters in the show, it’s needless to say that everyone was caught off-guard and most everyone, one way or another, wasn’t too happy about the decision.
When Evan covered it last week, he pointed out that Family Guy creator (and vocal talent) Seth MacFarlane has been suspected by some as having killed off Brian as an act of sabotage; intending to either run the show into the ground or shock the audience into returning as the shows ratings continue to decline. One way or another, Evan thought it was a pretty bold move, and wrote “…I think I’m going to applaud their decision.”
And now back to the subject of the night: Is there artistic merit in Adventure Time?
EVAN: Whoa. You’re gonna shameless-plug your friend and then let me discuss the topic? Say something about it, haha.
GORDON: Is there artistic merit in beloved Cartoon Network show Adventure Time? Well, let’s break down what we mean by “artistic merit.” Evan?
EVAN: Is it worthy or deserving of being called art? Alternatively, does the show have the admirable qualities or attribute that art has? I guess a question to answer your question is: What is art?
GORDON: Well, let’s not try defining “art”. We’ve been trying to do that ever since we first started scratching pictures of fat ponies onto cave walls, and I doubt we’re gonna solve it in the next half hour or so. Let’s instead focus on the “merit”- what is it that makes ANY show good?
EVAN: Here’s a factor that relates directly to Adventure Time: Accessibility. How accessible does a show have to be to be good? Does it have to be accessible to be good?
GORDON: Are we talking about mass appeal here?
EVAN: Eh, sure, why not.
GORDON: Well, we gotta address that then. I mean, Twilight and the work of Michael Bay are popular, but they aren’t good. At the same time, you can’t just have a show that only you find funny, and then still call it good, right?
EVAN: You’re right. So is there a magic number of people we have to reach when it comes to a show being good? I shudder to remember Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and how much our one friend used to love it.
GORDON: What’s worse is that my dad is into that show for some unfathomable reason. But the point is, a good thing ought to be popular to some degree, but popularity can’t be the sole element.
EVAN: Okay, so how about execution? How well the show pulls off whatever it’s supposed to be doing. Adventure Time is a show about a boy and his magical dog that is also his brother adventuring in a colourful post-apocalyptic fantasy world, but it works. They pull it off. I personally think this has a little something to do with its easy-to-digest ten minute segments.
GORDON: And there’s really no way of arguing with that- the story-telling is spot-on, but there’s gotta be more than that. The same can be said (and this is gonna give Evan an aneurysm), to some degree, of the copy-paste work of Seth McFarlane.
GORDON: What I’m saying is that McFarlane’s shows are both popular and (for what they are) well-executed, and yet we can both agree that his shows aren’t really “good,” at least, not anymore than a bag of chips is “good” food.
Therefore, there’s got to be another element at play, right?
EVAN: Ugh. I can’t even look at the chat window I’m so offended you would say something like that. I wish he would be “well-executed.” Share your other element if you must.
GORDON: Uniqueness. The show has to be unique. It’s not enough to go through the motions (as McFarlane’s shows do), you have to actually be able to make your show something that can’t be seen anywhere else.
EVAN: Something to make your stuff stand out of the crowd, okay, that’s fair. So I guess we can see how Adventure Time stands up to the criteria we’ve come up with.
Accessible? Eh, I’d say so, for its demographic and older.
Popular? Yeah, again for who I’ve stated.
You want to let these nice people know if it’s unique?
GORDON: Soooo Unique. If you can find anything remotely similar to it made in the past decade, I will slap Evan on the ears and vote for taxing the homeless.
EVAN: I mean, like I said: Boy. Magical Dog. Colourful fantasy world that is also post-apocalyptic.
EVAN: What more could you want?
GORDON: Vampire rocker girls?
EVAN: I would not mind.
GORDON: Oh wait, we’ve got that too.
You want D&D references spliced in with Science Fiction and elements of Gothic Horror?
EVAN: I think we could go for some.
GORDON: WELL WE’VE GOT IT!
EVAN: I think it’s clear that we think Adventure Time is a good show, but one thing that’s been painfully clear with this entry of E> is how much trouble it’s been doing this. Might I suggest a little something?
GORDON: Go for it.
EVAN: Let’s just choose our own topics for a little while, just to really get back into the swing of things. Keep things casual, going back and forth, avoid the heavy questions. And then we can ease our way back into all this.
GORDON: I am inclined to agree with you on this one.
EVAN: Yeah? Awesome. Anything in particular you wanted to casually discourse about next time?
GORDON: Well, I don’t think my suggestion about the Disney takeover of the Star Wars franchise was all that bad, even if Adventure Time did win by a landslide…
EVAN: I kinda wanted to talk about Deadliest Warrior.
GORDON: That would be likewise awesome. Let’s do that.
EVAN: Yes. Awesome. I’m going to post this because we are men true to our word and we promise an E> every Wednesday. We shall discuss Deadliest Warrior in a week. Or this weekend, maybe, just to get ahead. I mean, whatever.
GORDON: Good night, everyone.
EVAN: Yep, sorry this wasn’t as awesome or decent as usual. But we will be back! With a vengeance. And remember:
I could have had this post focus on Seth McFarlane’s cartoons, and how they’re the current low point in animation this decade. I could do that, but I won’t. Kyle Evans already did too good a job discussing this in his article “The ‘Art’ of Seth McFarlane“.
What I’m going to be talking about is McFarlane’s debut show Family Guy, known all around North America as the show that challenged, then defeated, The Simpsons.1 While I have watched a great deal of the show [essentially the last eight seasons] I have decided not to begin this upcoming tenth season. What follows is my primary reason for giving up on the show.