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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

'The Awesomes' S1 DVD: Aussies Once More Go Where U.S. Fears to Tread

Image result for the awesomes dvd images
[Editor's Note: This Region 4 DVD set will only play on a region-free player in the U.S.]

This entry on the recently released Australian-based Madman Entertainment DVD set of the first season of the hulu animated super-hero comedy series "The Awesomes" represents two Unreal TV firsts. It is the first review of a DVD set of a streaming show and the first set of a currently running U.S. show that seems to be exclusively released in Australia.

"Awesomes" is the genuine brainchild of SNL veteran and current late night talk show host Seth Meyers and his long-time collaborator Mike Shoemaker. The voice talent includes Meyers and a plethora of other folks who "get" this show.

The pilot establishes a comic variation on "The Fantastic Four" by having current team leader of the titular "Justice League" caliber gaggle of heroes Mr. Awesome announce his retirement. A rapid series of events results in super-genius time-stopping (but otherwise meta-less) son Jeremy "Prock" (combination of Professor and Doctor) Awesome, whom Myers voices, assume leadership of the group.

This transition prompts every member of the "A Team" to resign except for Prock's lifelong buddy/fellow junior hero "Muscleman," voiced by Ike Barinholtz of "The Mindy Project." This depletion in turn leads to the continued existence of The Awesomes depending on Prock quickly replenishing the ranks to the minimal governemnt required level.

The desperation associated with finding new recruits requires bringing "rejects" whose super powers are very respectable but whose "issues" greatly impact their ability to properly function in a manner that make them much more "Super Friends" than "League" material.

The very fast but equally hyper and mentally slow Kid Flash like Frantic, voiced by Meyers' SNL buddy Taran Killam. is one of the first to join the "reunion" band in which the effectively drummer and keyboardist are the only surviving original members.

Veteran SNL writer Paula Pell voices the more amusing Gadget Gal, who predictably uses various devices to thwart the bad guys. Gal is an octogenarian who may have the looks of a 20-something babe but retains the slang and attitudes of the greatest generation. Highlights include the team using a book of expressions from the '40s to communicate with Gal in one episode and anticipation related to using the "N" word in a negative context in another episode turning out to refer to ninjas.

Meyers and his team further show a modern fanboy sensibility in having a few continuing story lines run throughout the first season. The primary plot involves arch nemesis Dr. Malocchio pursue an "X-Men" style scheme to remove the powers of every hero. Stefon himself Bill Hader wonderfully voice that villain.

Shorter story arcs have our heroes encounter their evil twins (sans goatees) on a parallel earth, share their origin stories, take on a monster composed of compost, and battle a squad of adorable but deadly baby animals.

All of this is presented in decently animated and well written and acted stories with plenty of nods to current and past hero lore. These elements evoke wonderful thoughts of the better  to create a new golden age of  primetime broadcast network animated fare in the period following the  successful launch of "The Simpsons." The blatant product placement following the closing credits of each episode is icing on the cake.

Anyone with "Awesome" questions or comments is encouraged to either email or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.