Frisky Dingo: Season Two (US - DVD R1)
Gabe wrote in Killface on his 2008 ballot. He cured global warming...
Matt Thompson and Adam Reed’s 70/30 Productions were partially responsible for the success of the Adult Swim network, thanks to the early success of their underwater spoof Sealab 2021. Sealab started well enough, and was in-keeping with Adult Swim’s majority comedy style. The problem was every episode was a one-shot, and the structure is more or less one joke. After about a season the joke started to wear thin, and after two seasons Thompson and Reed seemed to lose interest in the show. Like pretty much all the station’s first generation shows Sealab stopped being funny, and turned into an almost hateful Dadaist attack.
It came as a surprise (to me at least) that 70/30’s second show, Frisky Dingo, would be a serialized spoof of current affairs and comic books. The series’ first season was both character and plot driven. Even if the plot and characters would take unexpected left turns every once and a while, Frisky Dingo remained a story you could follow, and the humour was eerily poignant because it was character motivated. It came as an even bigger surprise (to me at least) that Frisky Dingo season two was an improvement instead of a painful abstract replay of the first. Not only that, but it was a potent political spoof.
The first season brought up many intriguing questions about the nature of superheroes and their villains. What if Batman was just a bored rich kid using his parents’ death as an excuse to run around in a super-suit? What if the Gotham prison system actually worked, and Batman vanquished all super-crime in a few years? What if he decided to finance his own super villain just to sell action figures? What if that super villain was a single father who was ruthless with his underlings, but soft on his bratty, mumbling son? How would that super villain realistically get his message of doom out to the world? It’s not like taking over every channel on the airways is a plausible possibility. These questions and more, mixed with some of the best catchphrases of the new millennium, make up a great, if not exactly incendiary television short.
Season two continues the ever-evolving character traits, but doesn’t repeat many of the same themes. Instead, our bratty, idiotic Bruce Wayne stand-in (Xander Crews), and his monstrously unlucky counterpart (Killface) run opposite sides of the latest presidential campaign. Because Killface’s world ending plot from first season accidentally pushed the planet a few yards away from the sun (rather than straight into it), he’s credited with ‘curing’ global warming, and runs as a Democrat. Because Crews is a multi-billionaire running the largest corporation in the world, he runs as a Republican. Of course, neither nominee encapsulates the values of either party, neither has any idea how to act in public, and technically neither is actually eligible for the office (Crews is too young, and Killface is an illegal alien, most literally). Frankly, it’s brilliant.
Like its first generation brethren Space Ghost, The Brak Show and Harvey Birdman , Sealab used old Hannah Barbara stock to cut animation costs, Frisky Dingo cuts costs by Flash animating simple vector drawings. Though occasionally a little awkward, the practice gives the film a distinct style, somewhere between cell animation, and the cheapest web-based animation. Many practices carry over from the Sealab days, specifically the perfect to style use of seemingly never ending still frames, but with the increased control of Flash the timing of these jokes is perfected.
Frisky Dingo’s clean design and animation looks pretty good on this DVD set. The colours (usually muted hues) are mostly solid, helped by the structural simplicity of the show, which mostly forgoes the need for gradation. There is some blocking in the warmer hues, and the brightest hues sometimes flare out a bit. The transfer gets a little fuzzy when there isn’t a distinct foreground focus (see my last screen cap), but overall it’s acceptable. I mean, it’s kind of a glorified web cartoon; anything beyond YouTube style compression artefacts is pretty acceptable.
Frisky Dingo doesn’t have the scope and music of other Adult Swim series like Metalocalypse or Venture Bros.. In fact, silence is a very important tool for the production. This Dolby Digital 2.0 track isn’t very impressive compared to say, Lost, but it’s really doesn’t need to be. Stereo effects are pointed efforts, usually part of the joke, not some kind of immersive shot at realism, but they work. Basically we’re talking something comparable to the TV airings, assuming you have a good system plugged into your set.
There’s been very little effort put into the extras on this disc, but I suppose that’s not why we buy television sets on DVD. The two extras include an Xtacles skit (sort of an ad for the teams new mini-series), and a ‘campaign commercial’, which is actually a commercial for the DVD set.
Frisky Dingo has one of the most original comedic voices on television, and with this second season they managed to keep that voice fresh. It’s not a show for every taste, and it may take a few episodes to get used to the show’s style, but if you give it a chance you might find yourself hooked, and bugging your friends with obnoxious declarations of ‘Boosh’.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 6th January 2009
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Extras: Xtacles Skit, Campaign Ad
Easter Egg: No
Director: Adam Reed, Matt Thompson
Cast: Stuart Culpepper, Christian Danley, Adam Reed, Eric Sims, Neal Holman
Length: 133 minutes
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