For those who won’t get enough of Rob Lowe in the flesh on Fox’s upcoming “The Grinder,” the actor lends his voice to “Moonbeam City,” the latest exercise in animated silliness from Comedy Central. Boasting an amusingly stylized look and an Adult Swim vibe, this cop show spoof from “Conan” writer Scott Gairdner features considerable star power in its vocal ranks while reveling in all the staples of the adult-animation playground, where an entire episode (the second) can be seemingly built largely around the phrase “dolphin penis.” Laughs do come, but seldom in anything approaching waves.
Taking full advantage of his earnest, deadpan delivery, Lowe plays Dazzle Novak, an utterly self-absorbed cop who appears to have borrowed Don Johnson’s “Miami Vice” wardrobe and brings strippers to work because, well, he paid for the time. Dazzle’s antics leave his boss, Pizzaz (voiced by Elizabeth Banks), in a constant state of exasperation; foster a macho rivalry with fellow cop Rad Cunningham (Will Forte); and mystify the capable Chrysalis Tate (Kate Mara), a desk jockey who yearns to join Dazzle in the field.
The plots are, not surprisingly, largely secondary to the jokes about sex, drugs and police brutality, as well as Dazzle’s utter incompetence and indifference to the collateral damage he inflicts. And while Gairdner and company do conjure some amusing lines (such as a sweatshop “that makes uncomfortable chairs for other sweatshops”), there’s a sameness to the gags that doesn’t wear terribly well, quickly characterizing this as another one of those series whose worthwhile attributes could have been accommodated in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch.
Of the three episodes previewed, the best is a Comic-Con-inspired parody in which police “Cop Con,” where Dazzle and Pizzaz annually engage in travel-related trysts. The show has also lined up an impressive roster of guest voices for its 10-episode run, including Powers Boothe, Kate McKinnon, Catherine O’Hara, Andy Richter, Susan Sarandon, Molly Shannon, Paul F. Tompkins, Patrick Warburton and Adam West.
Ultimately, though, the series – making its debut behind “South Park,” which features a Caitlyn Jenner-themed episode to kick off its 19th season – can’t maintain the initial burst of energy that its design and ‘80s-inspired opening titles convey, and settles for being puerile as opposed to consistently clever. While there’s certainly a place for that, the glow from “Moonbeam City” is less than dazzling.