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Frisky Dingo - Season 2
For those of you who didn't extract quite enough comedy relief from the Presidential election of 2008, there's always Frisky Dingo, Season Two. This Adult Swim staple offers humor that is so dry as to be positively Saharan, and so politically incorrect as to virtually guarantee offense to just about anyone with even an inkling of a moral compass. So of course what I'm saying is Frisky Dingo is one of the most consistently hilarious little shows on television right now.
In case you haven't yet given into the charms that variously grace and/or disgrace Adult Swim on Cartoon Network late evenings, Frisky Dingo is one of the best examples of the older-skewed humor that is on display there. A brilliantly animated little farce, in a semi-motion capture and rotoscoping style reminiscent of Richard Linklater's Waking Life, Frisky Dingo is your basic superhero vs. supervillain show cast in a very droll, Martini-dry atmosphere that will either leave you laughing out loud or scratching your head in wonderment. The show focuses on big bad alien Killface, a sort of grown up extraterrestrial Stewie from Family Guy who speaks with a British accent and is more or less fed up with every stupid human with whom he comes in contact. His arch nemesis in the series is Xander Crews, millionaire playboy and (of course) secret superhero Awesome X. Season Two of Frisky Dingo puts the rivals on that most sacrosanct stage of conflict available in America, the Presidential election. Season One of Dingo ended with Killface attempting to destroy Earth with his Annihlatrix, a plan that went subtly awry and instead managed only to save our planet from global warming. That of course makes Killface the perfect presidential candidate for the Democrats. When Crews, left temporarily destitute at the end of season one and forced to eke out a living running a "resource center" (actually a collection of large cardboard boxes in which he's living and dispensing boiled hypodermic needles to addicts), finds out about Killface's impending candidacy, he of course decides to run himself. And what better candidate could the Republicans proffer than someone with untold millions to spend on his own campaign?
Frisky Dingo offers some very sharp topical humor in its ten minute vignettes, managing to skewer everything from campaign management to assassination attempts and strangely finding a lot of laughs in unexpected places. Co-creator Adam Reed voices both Killface and Crews with incredible aplomb, giving Crews just the right amount of foppish absurdity and Killface a hyperbolic malaise that is consistently giggle-worthy. The show has an improvisatory air most of the time, with half-finished sentences and overlapping dialogue that add to the surreality of the imagery. The supporting characters are each unique and for the most part brilliantly realized, including Wendell (also well-voiced by Reed), Killface's bumbling bodyguard; Taqu'il, the once famous rapper who saw his career self-destruct upon the release of his ill-conceived album "Ballocaust" (with one of the most appalling yet hilarious covers you've ever seen), but who is brought on board as Killface's running mate to attract a certain demographic; and Simon, Killface's idiot savant son (without the savant part) who is the perfect parody of every celebrity offspring you've ever gritted your teeth at whilst suffering through their nitwittery on Entertainment Tonight.
My favorite character in this season of Frisky Dingo has to be the adorably caustic Dottie Bunch, Killface's campaign manager, the sort of character you could see Thelma Ritter or Hollis Taylor chewing through in a live-action version. Dottie is a vodka-soaked, nicotine encrusted bitch of the first order, and her machinations to get Killface elected, despite his lack of political acumen, provide some golden comedic moments. The episode where Dottie coaches Killface to appeal to "regular folk" by going on a duck hunt, a hunt that Crews is also partaking of (thinking it's his annual panda bear hunt), is priceless. It will make you think twice about such recent campaign accoutrements like Joe the Plumber.
Frisky Dingo would be a hoot, for wont of a better word, even without its outlandish visuals, but the super-realistic yet oddly stilted world these characters inhabit make the show unusually refreshing to watch. While some of the Adult Swim fare is little better than the Hanna Barbera tripe of yore, Frisky Dingo is vibrant and fun to watch, making its subversive humor all the more enjoyable. This is one show that doesn't look like it was dashed off on a Xerox machine, and I for one am grateful for that. This is a very sharply written, if fragmented and disjointed at times, show that should appeal to everyone with a jaded palate, political or otherwise. Things are up in the air regarding a third season of Frisky Dingo (though its spinoff The Xtacles has attracted some praise), but I'm hoping that Reed and co-creator Matt Thompson take a page out of a certain recent presidential candidate's book and say, "Yes, we can."
Frisky Dingo arrives in a neatly sharp little 1.33:1 transfer that is abundantly sharp and sports good color and contrast too boot. This is one of the most distinctive looking animated shows on the air right now, and while this may be "just" television, with all that that implies about image quality, you're probably going to be quite surprised at how good Frisky Dingo looks most of the time.
The DD 2.0 soundtrack isn't quite as stellar as the image, but it suffices quite nicely, with excellent reproduction of the show's often very smart dialogue, and some fun sound effects along the way, too. Directionality is minimal, though well handled. No subtitles are available.
A couple of very brief extras are offered, including an excerpt from the spin-off Xtacles series and a "campaign commercial" (which is really a promo for this DVD) by Killface.
The 12 episodes of the second season of Frisky Dingo prove that this show is one of the crown jewels of Adult Swim, and no, that isn't a joke. Well drawn characters (and I mean that literally and figuratively) and a sort of giddy take no prisoners approach to virtually every sacred cow imaginable make this show a goldmine for those who like their satire steaming hot and preferably a little on the bitter side. Highly recommended.
"G-d made stars galore" & "Hey, what kind of a crappy fortune is this?" ZMK, modern prophet