Cartoon Network // 2008 // 133 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Ryan (Retired) // January 6th, 2009
Now 30% friskier!
At the risk of repeating myself, Frisky Dingo is an incredibly difficult show to review, or even explain. It's unrepentently weird, and it's not even traditionally weird -- it blazes its own path of turbo-weirdness, and then weirds it all out even further. What you're left with is something that will be utterly incomprehensible to 99% of the population, but something that is also arguably the greatest single show ever created for Adult Swim.
Frisky Dingo is, at its core, the story of two men. Well, one man and one alien demon-thing, actually. The man is billionare playboy Xander Crews, who is an even bigger a-hole jerk than everyone on The Hills combined. In his spare time, he moonlights as superhero Awesome X, who is content to take all the credit while his robot-pantsed assistants, the Xtacles, do all the real work. (And not very well at that.) His arch-enemy -- sort of -- is Killface, the aforementioned alien demon-thing. Killface is cultured and literate, but is beset by bad luck and poor employee performance in his pursuit of the destruction of the world. When we last saw these two, they were perched on top of Killface's world-domination device, the Annihilatrix, as Killface's latchkey kid son Simon turned the Annihilatrix's key in its ignition.
Well, spoiler alert, it didn't actually destroy the world as planned. Instead, the Annihilatrix -- a giant rocket engine designed to push the Earth into the Sun -- only managed to move the Earth a few feet. However, that small movement was enough to eliminate global warming, making Killface an environmental hero. (Because he totally planned for it to do that. That's his story and he's sticking to it.) Which leads to the main plotline of Season Two: Killface's campaign for President. This campaign, covered in pseudo-documentary form, is the focus of the first eight episodes of the season. In this first stanza of Season Two, the show actually approaches -- dare I say it? -- a kind of normalcy. Its absurdism is still in place, but it takes some very pointed shots at "typical" political campaigns. A lot of the truly crazy stuff is left for Killface's Republican opponent: Xander Crews. (For example, Crews is obsessed with Fred Dreyer -- you know, Hunter -- whom he wants as his running-mate.) Also, for Season Two there are a couple of significant additions to the show's already large stable of characters: a bawdy political operative (think a cougar-like James Carville) named Dotty (voiced by Brak's mom, Marsha Crenshaw), and Taqu'il (voiced by rap artist Killer Mike), a gangsta rapper (who did appear briefly in Season One, most notably as the cover art for Cap'n Krump cereal) who winds up as Killface's vice presidential candidate. Dotty isn't really utilized as well as she could have been, but Taqu'il is a terrific addition -- the only voice of intelligence and reason in Killface's camp.
I'm not sure whether it was a production issue, or whether it was a Cartoon Network decision, but there was a five month gap between the time the 8-episode election arc ended and the time the show restarted with the last 4 episodes of Season Two. When it returned, the show went totally off the rails. First, it started killing off characters. Lots of them. Violently and unexpectedly. Whatever scintilla of normalcy was present in the election arc is totally thrown out the window. You get (deep breath...) lesbian supervillain alliances; giant ant babies; inappropriate frottage while riding giant ant babies; latent homosexuality; overt homosexuality; overt fake homosexuality; a man/ant-woman/crab-man/robot-woman love...um...trapezoid; an illegitimate daughter who appears, is paid $1M, and then leaves all within the space of five minutes; the return of the Annihilatrix; an alien spaceship; the name "Evelyn"; and a magical pair of Haggar slacks.
See what I mean about the difficulty of reviewing this show?
Yes, it's an insane drug-addled fever dream of a show -- but it's a fantastic drug-addled fever dream of a show. There is really nothing like it on TV -- except for Sealab 2021, also the product of Dingo co-creators Adam Reed and Matt Thompson. But whereas Sealab was just wacky anarchy, Frisky Dingo is actually smart and sharp. And because it's so smart and sharp, its weirdness is all the more striking and shocking. You may not like Frisky Dingo...but you'll for damn sure remember it. And if your sense of humor is wired in a certain way, you'll absolutely love it.
This Season Two disc has something that Season One lacked: extras. However, the extras are so thin as to be almost totally irrelevant. There's a brief (2 1/2 minute) skit with the Xtacles that serves as a transition to the forthcoming Xtacles spin-off show, and a "political commercial" that is actually the 30-second TV spot being used to advertise the DVD itself. Once again, there is no commentary from Reed and Thompson, which is something that this show desperately needs. Given the fact that Frisky Dingo is, as of this writing, apparently unlikely to return for a third season (creator Reed has decided to take some time off from television, and...well...they did sort of paint themselves into a corner in those last four episodes anyhow.) Beyond that, the disc is functionally equivalent to the Season One set -- solid, vivid reproduction of the somewhat unique animation (it's sort of like the cel shading technique used in A Scanner Darkly, but a bit simpler), a utilitarian Dolby stereo audio track, and clean, easy-to-navigate menus.
If you're new to Frisky Dingo you absolutely need to start with the first season, and not this disc. This season would be incomprehensible to someone who hasn't seen the first season. And I'd strongly suggest checking it out on Adult Swim before committing to a purchase or rental, to see if it's the sort of thing that would appeal to you. But if it does, boy are you in for a wild ride...
(Boosh and/or Ka-chow!)
Review content copyright © 2009 David Ryan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Cartoon Network
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 133 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Xtacles Promo
* Political Commercial