Silliness is an admirable quality, but to borrow a boxing metaphor, jabbing away with that alone represents a rather slim arsenal. Yet into the ring steps “Mike Tyson Mysteries,” the latest round in the former heavyweight champ’s gradual transformation into a hip entertainment commodity, from “The Hangover” movies to his one-man show (and HBO special) and now this Adult Swim animated series, which casts Tyson at the center of a Scooby-Doo-like spoof. Filled with non sequiturs and raunchy dialogue, the show’s reception should closely correlate with the level of illicit substances ingested by its audience.
Writer-producer Hugh Davidson (“The Looney Tunes Show”) extracts the expected fun from the animated Tyson garbling the English language (or for that matter, trying to say “Chupacabra”), while surrounding the boxer’s alter ego with a Mystery Team consisting of the Ghost of the Marquess of Queensberry (voiced by Jim Rash), Mike’s adopted Korean daughter Yung Hee (Rachel Ramras) and a pigeon who was once a man (Norm Macdonald). The angry bird talks about, among other things, masturbating, which, without being too much of a stickler about avian anatomy, appears problematic.
If you’re still reading this, then the absurdity of the premise hasn’t completely scared you away. But the show ratchets up its oddness-quotient with an opening plot that involves a mystery tied to author Cormac McCarthy, and a second episode (they run just 15 minutes) that seems to have been built solely around a joke about “Searching for Bobby Fischer.”
Those who have willingly accepted Tyson back into the cultural mainstream — as an item of kitsch or sheer fascination — might wind up scratching their heads over the series’ motivation, which, as the episodes are constructed, feels like the entire point. And while there’s precedent for that, it feels like slim compensation even in such a modest package.
Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim umbrella has obviously carved out a niche among young guys by being outlandish, and “Mike Tyson Mysteries” certainly fits the bill. That said, if viewers pass out while watching it, one suspects it won’t be the zing of the jokes that delivers the knockout punch.