Picks and Pans Review: Home Movies
Shows of the week
Could there be such a thing as a toon too many? Evidently, FOX doesn't think so. Family Guy, which officially premiered April 11 after a post-Super Bowl preview, is one of five animated shows on the network's prime-time schedule. Home Movies, another family comedy in cartoon form, follows Dilbert's animated funny business in UPN's Monday lineup as of April 26.
Although I'm partial to the human face of live action, I admit animation lends itself particularly well to the free-association comedy of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. When a hungover Peter Griffin, head of the household, says it "feels like there's accountants crankin' addin' machines in my head," we see the number crunchers in his cranium. When Peter watches Star Trek, William Shatner turns up at his front door. Okay, that could happen on a live-action sitcom too. But here, when Shatner walks away, he leaves his toupee in midair. Crass Peter's couch-potato tendencies give MacFarlane the pretext for one quick TV spoof after another, and some of them are hilarious. I find these satirical flights far funnier than the frustrated schemes of Stewie Griffin, a sinister baby bent on world domination.
Home Movies comes from the makers of Comedy Central's Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist and uses the same Squigglevision process (minimalist drawings wobbily animated) that gives me a slight headache until my eyeballs adjust. The looseness of the dialogue also takes getting used to. First the voice-over actors improvise their scenes, then the animators go to work "retroscripting." As a result, Home Movies meanders, but patient viewers will be amused by Paula (voiced by Paula Poundstone), a disheveled single parent who dislikes good babysitters because they make the mother "look bad."
Bottom Line: You'll be drawn to these shows