“Moonbeam City” on Comedy Central
We’re living in an adult animation renaissance. From Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim offerings to Fox’s late-night Animation Domination block, TV is loaded with mature, raunchy or just plain weird cartoons aimed at stoned and/or drunk adults. Comedy Central buys a ticket on that train with its newest offering, the comically retro cop series “Moonbeam City.”
“Moonbeam City” is what you’d get if 1984-era MTV, “Jem and the Holograms” and “Miami Vice” had a freaky three-way and gave birth to a cute but rather stupid love child. The show is set in the neon-soaked Miami-deco metropolis of Moonbeam City. Rob Lowe (on a comic hot streak after “Parks and Recreation”) voices our main character, police detective Dazzle Novak. Dazzle is cocky, sex-crazed and cluelessly incompetent. He comes up with catchy one-liners. (“I hope your brain is hungry. It’s having bullets for dinner.”) But he’s a terrible marksman. He’s also constantly being berated by his boss, sexy Pizzaz Miller (Elizabeth Banks). On top of that, he’s regularly humiliated by his office rival, snarky (but sexy) fellow Moonbeam City PD detective Rad Cunningham (Will Forte). At least he’s got help from his new partner, a nerdy (yet still sexy) forensic lab tech named Chrysalis Tate (Kate Mara, making this quite the impressive voice cast).
The show’s angular, eye shadow-heavy art style apes that of ubiquitous ’80s artist Patrick Nagel (who did the iconic cover for Duran Duran’s Rio). The throbbing synth soundtrack and airbrushed graphics add to the flashback feel of it all. The show’s sense of humor is both goofy and absurdist, poking fun at the genre and the era. Most of the jokes derive from our hero’s incompetent attempts to uphold the law. None of the writing (courtesy of creator Scott Gairdner, a longtime “Conan” writer) is particularly clever or pointed. But it’s good for the occasional laugh. If you’ve spent the last few years watching “Archer,” you’ve probably seen this sort of dim-bulb crime-fighter done with considerably more edge. Still, “Moonbeam City” gets points for style. It’s definitely worth a glance if you grew up watching “Liquid Television,” shopping at Chess King, listening to A Flock of Seagulls or generally digesting the pop cultural detritus of the ’80s.