Gary & Mike

Somewhere between the gross-out antics of "South Park," the razor wit of "The Simpsons" and the visual style of a California Raisins commercial lie the aesthetic and comic sensibilities of "Gary & Mike," an animated midseason series from UPN. Full of social commentary and sexual innuendoes, the show has cult following written all over it.

Gary Newton - Christopher Moynihan Mike Bonner - Harland Williams Officer Dick - Kurtwood Smith

Somewhere between the gross-out antics of “South Park,” the razor wit of “The Simpsons” and the visual style of a California Raisins commercial lie the aesthetic and comic sensibilities of “Gary & Mike,” an animated midseason series from UPN. Full of social commentary and sexual innuendoes, “Gary & Mike” has cult following written all over it — when UPN should be aiming for a broader cross-demo hit.

Weblet will premiere the skein in a special post-“WWF Smackdown” spot, and while WWF fans aren’t likely to be offended by the off-color humor of “Gary & Mike,” viewers who tune to the weblet during the show’s regular Friday-at-8 slot may not be so accepting of its often-clever but irreverent spirit.

Premise follows the basic tenets of teen and young adult comedy, utilizing sex, drugs and hard rock jokes rolled into what is basically one long road trip.

Gary Newton (voiced by Christopher Moynihan) is a cautious and hapless college graduate who quits his job as a nursing home aide to travel the country retracing the steps of the Lewis and Clark expedition as a way to appease his militant father.

Outfitted in his dad’s fully equipped SUV, Gary gets detoured just blocks from his home when he picks up his buddy Mike Bonner (Harland Williams), a bad luck charm whose main goal in life is to score with the chicks. Less than eight miles into the trip, their clothes, money, car and dignity are gone. Facing little prospect back home, the two decide to continue their adventure in a burned-out ’64 Chevy.

In addition to the visual humor, which isn’t above squashing small woodland creatures for laughs, the road-trip theme also allows the writers to explore a bevy of situations, including a hilarious and politically savvy upcoming episode about the boys’ foray into Washington politics.

The look of the show, created by Big Ticket Television and Will Vinton Studios, is stop-motion animation at its most evolved state. The humor is cleverly emphasized in graphic detail by the claymation style that made M&Ms and California Raisins famous.

The voices are key, and Moynihan and Williams are a natural fit for this bumbling duo. Like other animated series, the show plans to bring in guest voices, including WWF star Chyna and actress Shannen Doherty, for future episodes. Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa provide the sound for metal band Razorkat.

An excellent theme song, “Anywhere but Home” by Bottlefly, may well receive radio airplay. Other tech credits are first rate.

Gary & Mike

UPN, Fri. Jan. 11, 9:30 p.m.

Production: Filmed on location in Los Angeles and Portland, Ore., by Will Vinton Studios in association with Big Ticket Television. Executive producers, Fax Bahr, Adam Small, Will Vinton, Tom Turpin; producers, Erik Vignau, Nancy Evelyn; supervising director, David Bleiman; episode directors, Robin Ator, Doug Aberle.

Crew: Editor, Greg Day; music, Greg O'Connor; sound, Dicken Berglund, Fred Howard; casting, Lieberman/Hirschfeld, Donna, Ekholdt, Meredith Layne. 30 MIN.

Cast: Gary Newton - Christopher Moynihan Mike Bonner - Harland Williams Officer Dick - Kurtwood Smith

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