Filmed in New York. New Jersey, Los Angeles and San Francisco by Nickelodeon Prods. Executive producers, Robert Mittenthal, Will McRobb, Chris Viscardi, Brian O’Connell, Albie Hecht; co-executive producer, Kevin Kay; supervising producer, Magda Liolis; producers, Irene Sherman, Kris Greengrove, Mark Osborne, Tim Hill, Ilene Staples, Demitra Vassiliadis; directors, Frank Gresham, Mark Marek, Cota Zellers, Stephen Holman, Tim Hill, Mark Osborne; writers, Robert Mittenthal, Will McRobb, Chris Viscardi, Michael Pearlstein, Stephen Holman, Clam Lynch, Cota Zellers; creators, Mittenthal, McRobb, Viscardi, Pearlstein, Zellers, Hecht; production coordinators, Jennifer Miller, Robert Charde; animators, Tony Eastman, lgor Mitrovie, Ed Smith, Kris Van Alphen, Chris Calvi, Chuck Duke; Voices: R.H. Gomez, Oscar Riba, John Walsh, Lee Bashforth, Michael Pearlstein , Nandor Nevai, Abby Miller, Noah Segan, Julia McIlvanie, Bert Pence, Scott Paulsen, Jim Krenn, Cris Winter Ramsey, Mike McGee, Stephen Gaich, Heather Fenske.
Nickelodeon has taken the alternative outrageousness and over-the-top eccentricity of the theatrical animation festival and slapped it into primetime with this off-kilter clash of styles that is being billed as TV’s first animated sketch comedy series.
Combining the sensibilities of “Ren & Stimpy” and “The Mr. Bill Show,” the uneven “Kablam!” premiere boasts moments of both sublime loopiness and strained predictability. But the kiddies surely have never seen the likes of anything that pushes the animation envelope with such a manic level of experimentation.
Billed as a comic book come to life, the show aims to establish itself as the place where cutting-edge artists come to let their imaginations wander. It’s “hosted” by, uh, Henry and June, a sort of Beavis and Butt-head for the pre-adolescent set. Squiggly and unnerving, the warped pair introduce the oddball collection of short segs that make up the show.
Premiere opens with the pair of segs that will serve as the weekly anchors. First is “Sniz & Fondue,” the wiggy adventures of a pair of cartoon cats and their pals who live in a house they never clean with a toddler who never speaks. It’s a cel-animation creation that’s long on quirky and short on plot.
The comedy centerpiece of “Kablam!” is clearly “Action League Now!,” a mostly live-action diversion that uses Barbie-like action figures to tell warped crime-fighting stories. The figures ride in a doll buggy that’s constantly getting crushed by the car driven by their arch-nemesis, Stinky Diver. Other characters are the Chief, Meltman, Thundergirl and the Flesh.
The joke in “Action League Now!,” which is filmed in “chuck-a-mation,” is that unseen kid hands are always heaving the characters into destructive situations. It’s all very twisted and violent, like the second coming of Mr. Bill. Derivative but inspired.
Additional recurring segs will rotate through the series, including, in the pilot, the paper-cut animation ‘toon “Life With Loopy,” which is about a young girl with an overactive imagination. The characters have cartoon heads and paper bodies, and the effect is positively surreal.
The idea of a kids show using cel, paper-cut, clay, computer, pixilated live-action and stop-motion animation to fill a half-hour is in itself revolutionary. If the quality of “Kablam!” is initially inconsistent, it’s easy to forgive an enterprise that aims its arrow in so many ambitious directions.