Goofy and nostalgic, “The Aquabats Super Show” — starring the alt-rock band featured in “Yo Gabba Gabba” — is a quirky throwback to a bygone era, a cheap spoof of the children’s TV of baby boomers’ youth, down to crappy production values and awful-looking “monsters” that work to its advantage. Although this Hub series at times feels like an “SNL” skit stretched to a half-hour, its sly mix of music, live-action crime-fighting, cartoons and mock ads ought to develop a cult following — and might be more popular with parents, at least those with the geek gene, than their kids.
Musicians by day (they’re introduced playing a teen’s birthday party), the group of costume-clad heroes springs into action when danger rears its peculiar head, fending off exotic threats like Manant (yes, an ant-human hybrid in a suit) and, in the second episode, a giant mysterious egg.
The team’s led by the M.C. Bat Commander (co-creator Christian Jacobs, who also held that title on “Yo Gabba Gabba”), whose stomach occasionally gets the better of him; and includes such oddities as Jimmy the Robot (James R. Briggs Jr.) and Crash McLarson (Chad Larson), who grows to enormous size (again, the terrible special effects are kind of a hoot) when he becomes agitated.
More than a kids show, “Aquabats” feels suited to the Adult Swim franchise — where many programs are so loopy as to readily go hand in hand with a case of a munchies — though there’s nothing here, including the lighthearted action, that’s not suitable for all but the youngest children.
Not everything works, and you don’t have to laugh at everything to admire the effort, and sheer silliness, down to the name, costumes and opening theme song.
The Hub is still trying to carve out a niche for itself in the crowded market for kids on cable, having entered the game with a distribution handicap. Still, putting on clever shows is an excellent place to start, and for those who can appreciate a network deriving inspiration from the teeth-rotting TV of the medium’s younger days, there’s reason to be mildly batty about “Aquabats.”