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 V.20 No.15 | April 14 - 20, 2011 
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Idiot Box

The Colors! The Colors!

“Problem Solverz” on Cartoon Network

It’s no secret at this stage of the game that the madmen (and women) behind Cartoon Network’s long-running Adult Swim programming block like the weird stuff. They regularly air shows like “Squidbillies,” “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” and “Superjail!” In the past, they’ve subjected viewers to such brain-melting, eye-burning material as “Super Milk Chan” and “Xavier: Renegade Angel.” Now, they’ve teamed up with members of the Pittsburgh, Pa. / Providence, R.I. art collective Paper Rad to open up the cage and let loose their newest animated freak show, “Problem Solverz.”

The show is the deformed brainchild of Paper Rad pooh-bah Ben Jones. The Flash-animated series follows the adventures of three freelance, well, problem solvers. Solving mysteries, combatting evil and generally righting wrongs are Alfe (a hairy, big-nosed monster), Roba (a robot) and Horace (a guy with a really bad haircut). Like all the work Paper Rad has put out, “Problem Solverz” is notable for its ... let’s say “vivid” color scheme. Take one glance at these coloring-book-gone-wrong images and they’ll be seared onto your retinas for at least 48 hours. It looks like a pack of neon Magic Markers had sex with some experimental 16-bit video game out of Japan.

Stories center around the usual random collection of elements: ancient Mayans, space aliens, roller coasters, robot dogs, evil video games, Girl Scouts. You get the picture. Unlike fellow network dwellers Aqua Teen Hunger Force, the Problem Solverz actually do help people out. This gives the show a more cohesive narrative structure than many Adult Swim offerings. (“Xavier,” I’m looking at you.)

Like a lot of shows on Cartoon Network’s late-night block, “Problem Solverz” is only 15-minutes long. Which is just enough time to pop onto the airwaves, show off its freaky, Day-Glo animation and lay out the week’s bizarro caper. The jokes aren’t what you’d call bust-out funny—most of the humor is derived from weird juxtapositions and the show’s so-awkward-it’s-amusing style. If you’re already a fan of Paper Rad’s “Lisa Frank on magic mushrooms” imagery, you’ll dig it. If not, well, there are worse ways to spend a drugged-out Monday night.

“Problem Solverz” airs Mondays at 9:45 p.m. on Cartoon Network.

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