More a triumph of design and concept than execution, “Ugly Americans” is the best thing to hail from Comedy Central’s animation efforts in some time — a wild acid trip of a show, where monsters and mythical creatures casually live alongside ordinary humans in New York City. Visually, the series vaguely resembles the EC Comics of the 1950s (think Vault of Horror) — a clever homage that will surely be lost on much of its younger audience. Not everything works, but with its bountiful supply of visual gags, “Americans” is just goofy enough to be good.
Created by Devin Clark and developed by “The Simpsons” writer David M. Stern, the program offers a refreshing lark for Comedy Central, which has often worked blue in the animation field more because the channel can than because the material delivers the funny.
The show’s central character, Mark (voiced by Matt Oberg), is your run-of-the-mill social worker at the Dept. of Integration, but any semblance of normalcy ends there, from Mark’s zombie roommate Randall (Kurt Metzger) to his office fling Callie (Natasha Leggero), a horns-and-all demon.
When Mark grouses about the relationship, Randall responds, “She’s the spawn of Satan. What do you expect?” Hey, who hasn’t been there, done that?
Between werewolves (who sniff each other’s butts when they meet), vampires and more exotic creatures like land-whales (which have a way, logically enough, of snarling traffic), the show is full of nonsequiturs, and the writing doesn’t always measure up to the look. Clark and animation director Aaron Augenblick are credited with the inspired character design.
Still, stick with the show and there are elements so bizarre as to be difficult to resist, like a restaurant for demons where the menu specialties include “unbaptized baby arm.”
With such strengths outweighing the weaknesses, “Ugly Americans” does an admirable job of tickling the funny bone — albeit one that’s exposed, bloody, and at its best, as tasty as … well, an unbaptized baby arm.