The best satire requires the delicacy of a surgeon’s touch; “Lil’ Bush,” like so much on Comedy Central other than “The Daily Show”/”Colbert Report” hour, possesses all the finesse of Gallagher with a watermelon. Attempting to ape the irreverence of “South Park,” this pint-sized animated version of the Bush gang wears out its welcome rapidly, pushing buttons even some Bush bashers will likely find juvenile, bordering on tawdry. The odd clever line slips in almost by default, but frankly, this series merits the sort of approval rating that should make the producers envy even its real-life inspiration.
Of course, the Viacom-owned net already tried spoofing the administration years ago with the sitcom “That’s My Bush!” memorable mostly for Timothy Bottoms’ uncanny resemblance of the current president. Compared with this bit of miscalculated whimsy, that earlier show looks like “All in the Family.”
Drawing from animated staples ranging from “Peanuts” to “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” — plus a musical dollop of “The Archies” — “Lil’ Bush” also includes his pals Lil’ Condi, Lil’ Rummy (damn you, long lead-time animation!) and Lil’ Cheney in various misadventures, interacting with dad George Sr., twisted mom Bar and painfully dumb (but nearly indestructible) brother Lil’ Jeb.
Each episode features two stories, with the kids flitting off to Iraq — where they discover an amusement park of splendor, called Halliburton-Land — and subsequently engaging in a contest to see who can get kissed first. Condi pants for Lil’ Bush like Sally Brown after Linus, but he’s oblivious to her invitations, while Cheney — who speaks in unintelligible grunts, a la “South Park’s” Kenny, and repeatedly bites the heads off small animals to suck out the blood — has a “The Graduate”-inspired tryst with Bar.
Created by “The Simpsons” and David Letterman alum Donick Cary (who’s part of the mostly undistinguished vocal cast), “Lil’ Bush” is that most dangerous of parodies, generated by people who know enough about current events to realize that having dad admonish the kids to stay tuned to Fox News is amusing, but lacking the restraint to stop short of having sex-crazed Bar lament that George Sr. won’t service her “First Lady parts.” Although designed to provoke, the better topical gags won’t mean much to 19-year-old stoners, and the below-the-belt stuff is too churlish to engage regular readers of the Huffington Post.
Then again, without being too nitpicky, there’s no evidence Comedy Central went through much rigorous analysis in ordering the show. Indeed, given even minimal thought, the concept actually doesn’t make a lick of sense, what with the Bush kids running into the Lil’ Clintons and George Sr. occupying the White House while Jr. is still a tyke, playfully wrestling with the present Iraqi quagmire that he consciously avoided.
“If you’re looking for laughs — mission accomplished!” the press release over-promises, throwing another simple-minded zinger Bush’s way. Hey, not that the Bush presidency isn’t ripe for ridicule, but served this bizarre hash of low blows and tired jabs, the best advice would be tuning in Comedy Central to enjoy the daily dose of sobriety provided when “The Daily Show” fanfare begins — just as soon as “Lil’ Bush” ends.