Saturday, March 26, 2005

Going to school, and I can't be late

Hot Damn. The Venture Bros. got renewed, which I was all but sure wouldn't happen; finally starting to air in Canada usually seems like a bad omen for American-network small-batch original animation. Clone High, Undergrads, The Brak Show - all were already cancelled or on the unpleasant-loooking side of the bubble when picked up by Teletoon, long after their original US airings. Finally, they've picked a winner. In related banter, Bromwell High, a current Teletoon original, is fascinating me. It's set in Britain (a seedy middle school in South London, to be precise), but seems to have been written by those having little familiarity with even superficial details of English culture. (It is a Canadian production, funded with federal subsidies, of course, so it counts as Cancon.) Chips are called chips, not crisps; the main characters are said to be in Year 7, which should make them about 10 or 11, not the 14-16 they're written as; the European Court of Justice is claimed to be in Brussels, rather than where it actually convenes, in Luxembourg; and those are just ones I can think of off the top of my head, with five out of thirteen extant episodes so far aired. I'll give the writers points for what slang and cultural references they do get right, but I can't imagine how laughable the setting would seem to a British audience. Sort of like the Turkish Star Trek does to us, I imagine. As for content...whooo. It's reminiscent of the early seasons of South Park, where there still seemed to be more emphasis placed on the shock value of using deliberately offensive, "edgy" concepts, than the amusing, compelling and increasingly subtle arguments that can slide under the radar therewith. Two examples from the episode "Police Story" can be found, in mpeg form, here. (To recap: the Mobile Thief is stealing cellphones all over the school, and the police investigation thereof is cutting into Headmaster Iqbal's black market animal trade. Also, that clip? Definitely NSFW.) Interestingly, Iqbal is naked for part of every episode, and no profanity has yet been bleeped. I'm mildly astounded at that, considering what usually gets censored in a 10:00ish timeslot. Bromwell can be clever at times, but I think there's more humour in the characterization, and that's probably how it should be; anyone can do plot-driven narrative, but to let the characters run wild throughout a series of completely irrelevant plots shows shows an unusual confidence in the writers, one that reminds me - tenuously - of, in fact, The Venture Bros. and ATHF. The show is doomed, of course, in that it's very, very unlikely ever to get another season. Teletoon will run it into the ground on a nightly basis like those other doomed series before it, but that's okay; it's enjoyable, but probably not so delightful it merits another production run. UPDATE: Hear the glee regarding new Venturage from the writer/producer/actor's mouth himself.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,

A British Bromwell High fan here. I don't know if we get a different soundtrack to you, but crisps are crisps, and the nuances are spot on. The whole thing is hilariously accurate (in a comic style).

Here's hoping you guys make a second season!

10/09/2007 10:00:00 AM  

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