Review: ‘The Awesomes’

"The Awesomes" Review Hulu

Seth Meyers' animated superhero spoof is filled with 'SNL' alums but less than super

After being pulled off the sales block, Hulu told the New York Times its intent was to focus on upcoming original programs, beginning with “The Awesomes.” Maybe it’s time for Plan C. Not that this animated series from “Saturday Night Live’s” Seth Meyers and “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’s” Mike Shoemaker is bad, but neither is it particularly interesting — feeling like one of those animated sketches from “SNL,” without the wit or bite of something like Robert Smigel’s “The Ambiguously Gay Duo.” Beyond the project’s auspices, in fact, there’s little to distinguish this lackluster effort from scores of cheeky animation on cable and the Web.

Meyers also provides the voice of Prock, the leader of a disjointed team of superheroes he inherited from his father. Only when dad left the most valuable members quit, leaving the son to recruit new ones, each of whom has oddities and quirks, from Impresario (Kenan Thompson), whose magic doesn’t quite work; to Sumo (Bobby Lee), a small boy who, when angry, morphs into a sumo wrestler.

The previewed episode (already available via Xbox), in what amounts to a slightly bluer “Futurama” riff, focuses on Muscleman (Ike Barinholtz), whose penchant for alien sexual conquests (the show uses, and repeatedly bleeps, a more colorful term) gets him into hot water. That thread produces the one genuinely funny gross-out moment, which simply isn’t enough to sustain the whole enterprise.

Visually uninspired and stiffly animated, the show indulges in lots of talk and little action. And while there’s plenty of mediocre Adult Swim-style animation characterized primarily by its naughty streak, the idea of dysfunctional superheroes is such a worked-over premise as to seem less torn from the zeitgeist than cut and pasted from other shows. In that respect, instead of spoofing “The Avengers” or “Fantastic Four,” this feels like the sitcom version of “Watchmen,” in watered-down form.

As the Times story illustrates, Hulu is getting some mileage out of the “SNL”-heavy creative  pedigree, which is perhaps half the battle. Yet Web series can only go so far when their main selling point is buying pet projects from name performers, principally because nobody else wanted them.

Granted, the title was intended to be ironic, but to borrow one of Meyers’ “Weekend Update” gags, “The Awesomes?” Really? Why not just call it “The Vaguely Tolerables?”

The Awesomes

(Series; Hulu, Thurs. Aug. 1)

Production

Produced by Broadway Video and Bento Box Entertainment.

Crew

Executive producers, Seth Meyers, Mike Shoemaker; supervising producer, Mark McJimsey; writers, Meyers, Shoemaker, Judd Winick, Josh Weinstein; animation producers, Janelle Momary-Neely, Craig Hartin; music, Michael Tavera. 22 MIN.

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  1. Ethan says:

    Let the show develop a little first before berating it. Steve (above) has some good points, but the bottom line is you simply can not judge a show from a single pilot episode. Sure some of the jokes seem a little corny and cliche, but I see potential with this show. Let them find their niche, the first episodes of a show are always the most stale in my opinion. With some good writing this show could easily become another Venture Bros.

    • Ethan says:

      I do have to agree with Mr. Lowry about the animation. They could have used something a little more refreshing, but it is what it is.

  2. Steve says:

    So much bile in this review.

    I enjoyed the first episode, but I agree it didn’t stand out as something entirely original. However, it is beyond good enough to be on FX, CC, [as], or any number of other cable channels. One line from Prock was enough to keep me watching this show: “This is more of a general meeting. Afterwards, we’ll all discuss how we thought it went and then get back to you in eight to twelve business months.”

    For me. the most distasteful part of the experience was Hulu, serving up four or five lengthy blocks of ads and an extremely tacky product placement.

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