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Chozen: The Complete Season 1
It's no wonder that the hip-hop comedy animated series Chozen was cancelled after only one season. To be honest, it's quite a miracle that it made it past the pilot and into a full-blown series. After FX's giant success with Archer, it was only a matter of time until the network tried their hand at another animated show with adult humor and content that would push the boundaries of basic cable.
FX might as well keep looking, because it turns out that Chozen was not exactly, um, chosen (I'm very sorry, I couldn't help myself) to be a successful follow-up to Archer. One of the biggest problems with the show is that it didn't need to be animated in the first place. Thanks to computers making rudimentary two-dimensional animation extremely easy compared to the cell drawn animation of the past, a lot of shows have recently been taking the animated route when they necessarily didn't have to, perhaps because of budgetary reasons.
Chozen is one of the most blatant examples of this problem, since it's basically a lazy throwback to 90s sitcoms with a one-joke premise about a typical white rapper one would expect to spew misogynistic rhymes. But guess what? He's gay, so he raps about boning hot dudes instead hot women. Otherwise, the songs that show up on each episode follow the same tired clichés of contemporary rap. That's it, that's pretty much the only joke, enjoy the following thirteen episodes.
There aren't really many complex or surreal visual elements in the show to justify going with the animation route. Except for the annoying and obnoxious rap music videos that pop up in every episode, most scenes follow a live action sit-com structure, sticking to a single location, using predictable over the shoulder shots. The fact that the voice for Chozen, the show's white gay rapper, is voiced by SNL's Bobby Moynihan doesn't help the animation choice, since he would have been perfect for this character in live action.
Of course this doesn't mean that the banal writing, which tries to cover up hacky sit-com premises with basic cable envelope-pushing sex, violence and profanity, would work in any format. The basic premise revolves around Chozen being framed by rival rapper Phantasm (Method Man) and vowing to get back to the top of the rap game after being released from prison. Chozen's journey will not be easy, since he's broke, crashing at his sister's (Kathryn Hahn) campus, and surrounded with a bunch of useless friends (Michael Pena, Hannibal Buress).
Pretty much each predictable episode involves a new scheme by Chozen and his idiot crew to make it big, ending with the kind of shenanigans that would have been comedy gold in the early 90s. The overall arc of the season, and the whole series as it turns out, focuses on the rivalry between Chozen and Phantasm. It's interesting that among such impressive voice acting talent, Method Man seems to have the most fun with his role as the Kanye-like narcissistic rapper.
Chozen's cheap flash animation look doesn't get many favors from this standard definition transfer, which retains the show's bright colors, but also comes with a considerable amount of aliasing and banding issues. Overall, it's an OK DVD presentation, but I'd bet that it looked better in HD on FX.
The show's Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround presentation strictly sticks to the front channels, since this is a very dialogue-heavy show. That is, until a song pops in during each episode, and that's when the subwoofer and the surround channels begin their workouts. This is a fairly clean and strong lossy transfer.
We get absolutely nothing.
Even if the premise sounds interesting to you, Chozen doesn't have a lot to offer in the way of cleverly satirizing the contemporary music industry. It's a shame, because we all know that there's a lot of stuff to mine there for comedy. When the real Kanye's day-to-day antics are more pathetic and funnier than anything found in Chozen, the series falls short of impressing.
Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com