Alibi V.26 No.1 • Jan 5-11, 2017 

Idiot Box

Space Jam

“Jeff & Some Aliens” on Comedy Central

“Jeff & Some Aliens”
“Jeff & Some Aliens”

Back in 2014, Comedy Central started airing “TripTank,” a rapid-fire cartoon anthology series created by two “Robot Chicken” producers. It was inevitable, one supposes, that at least one of the rude/irreverent animated shorts featured on the show would land itself a spinoff. Unfortunately for fans of sketches like “Suicidal Attention Whore Chicken” and “Dick Genie” (yes, it’s what you think), the first spinoff is actually “Jeff & Some Aliens.”

The new show’s 10-episode first season follows a trio of space aliens who move in with Jeff—statistically determined to be Earth’s most average guy. These envoys from the planet Azuria have been sent to Earth to observe the intricate complexities of the human condition, to determine if human life is worth saving or just wiping out entirely. No pressure, Jeff. But instead of working tirelessly on their extraterrestrial mission, the Azurians simply move into Jeff’s lousy one-bedroom apartment and wreak havoc on his life. Lazy, slovenly and always clad in tighty-whiteys, the aliens—named Sammy, Jimmy and Ted, by the way—are essentially the universe’s worst roommates. Comedian/actor Brett Gelman (“Eagleheart,” “Go On,” “Another Period,” “Married”) serves as the voice of our long-suffering protagonist. Other guest stars include Richard Kind as Jeff’s Dad, Tress MacNeille as Jeff’s Mom and Alicia Silverstone as Jeff’s Sister.

In the pilot, which more or less lays the groundwork for Jeff’s weekly torture, Jeff accidentally kills an alien ambassador by messing around with one of his roommates’ devices. This results in an Azurian overlord (played by Malcolm McDowell in one of his weirdest gigs) showing up in Jeff’s bathroom and demanding the Earthling make up for this epic, interplanetary insult by ritually assassinating one fellow Earthling. Jeff doesn't want to do it—not that he lacks for victims. Just about everyone from his angry landlord to his overbearing boss at the smoothie stand in the mall makes him want to go homicidal. It’s just that Jeff is incompetent, weak and cowardly. Naturally, Jeff’s various attempts at homicide end in abject failure and increasing trouble.

The show’s rather grubby animation isn’t going to win any awards, but it fits comfortably alongside a lot of Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” programming (“12 Oz. Mouse,” “Squidbillies,” “Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio,” “China, Il.”). As you’d expect there are plenty of gross/raunchy jokes to satisfy the late-night, juvenile/stoned crowd. (Pixelated wangs, pubic hair and plenty of corpse abuse figure into the first ep.) But there’s something a little noble in Jeff’s weekly suffering for the sake of the human race. A solid voice cast and some more or less clever twisting of traditional sitcom tropes are enough to raise “Jeff & Some Aliens” a notch or two above the more forgettable “adult” cartoon fare proliferating across the Idiot Box.

“Jeff & Some Aliens” premieres Wednesday, Jan. 11, on Comedy Central at 11:30pm.