If “Neighbors From Hell,” TBS’ first foray into animation, feels strangely familiar, it’s likely because the series has borrowed the shortcomings of a generation of adult animated series — from “Family Guy’s” increasingly desperate political incorrectness to “Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s” anarchic plotting and “South Park’s” tossed-off animation quality. Saddled with a derivative premise — a family of demons sent to pass as humans on Earth — and sloppily executed, it’s difficult to see “Neighbors” taking up permanent residence.
Good-natured demon Balthazor Hellman (Will Sasso) toils in a low-level grunt job in Hell. He’s torturing a sinner by forcing him to listen to a Britney Spears recording (which tells you all you need to know about both the contemporaneousness and depth of the series’ many pop culture references) when he’s busted by Satan for watching American TV on the job — illegal in Hell, for some reason.
As punishment, and due to his tube-learned familiarity with terran customs, Balthazor is dispatched to Earth along with his extended family, and tasked with infiltrating an energy company whose massive drilling project is threatening to impinge on Hell. He moves his family into a tract home in Texas, and takes a job with the company in question, striking up a friendship with the engineer in charge (Kyle McCulloch), whom he can’t bring himself to kill.
Though there’s potential for some “Invader Zim”-style lunacy in the however convoluted premise, the pilot mostly relies on stale caricatures and unfunny racist jibes, and highlights a louche housewife neighbor (Dina Waters) first seen cleaning up after, then making out with, then farting on — her pet poodle. (Yes, it’s that kind of show.)
The pilot attempts to fit in so many stories that it’s forced to resort to deus ex machina devices just to tie up its narrative strands.
Animation quality is sketchy and static (its inattention to detail is best indicated by the dark violet hue to rep a glass of Chardonnay), and excellent voice actor Patton Oswalt is reduced to little more than high-pitched squeaking as the family dog.