Welcome to Whoville?
Fox’s Sunday night animation domination received a new show in their lineup. Duncanville premiered on February 16, 2020.
The show revolves around mediocre 15 year old Duncan. He fantasizes of the typical things boys of that age do in high school. These are often met by reality constantly knocking at Duncan’s door. His fantasy’s are usually dashed by his mom needing to be in the car to drive, his friends all being broke, and/or having to babysit his little sister.
In the weeks leading up to this show I was becoming more and more excited. When it comes to television, all cards on the television, animation is my go to genre. Radioactive Man and Fallout Boy are forever tattooed on my arm. I’m also a fan of comedians. This show promised to deliver.
The bulk of the promos for this were sneak peeks into the table reading of the show. At no point was anyone actually reading. The promo clips just displayed all the different comedians sitting next to each other all equally excited to be in a show together, even just verbally.
Voice talent in the show included Amy Pohler, Ty Burrell, Rashida Jones, and Wiz Khalifa. Go ahead and reread that voice listing once more. That is a stacked line up. That kind of lineup would actually win the Portland Trail Blazers a game.
On top of the voices the show was being written and co-produced by Amy Poheler. On paper this seemed like a winning combination.
I hesitated to write this because my biggest pet peeve is review sites watching one episode of a new show and immediately drafting an opinion. On Sunday marked the show’s eighth episode. 8 episodes is about the halfway mark for their first season. 8 episodes is a reasonable quantity to formulate an opinion on a new show.
After 8 episodes, it brings me no pleasure to type that this show continues to miss the mark.
Let’s start with the main character-Duncan. He is flatter than flat stanley. He is a moppy headed, 15 year old, who wears a baggy sweatshirt, and most often found letting out a breath of frustration towards his parents. While that is relatable and not uncommon. As the character who the show is named after, I would expect him to do something of interest from time to time.
This leads to my next frustration, the characters in general. Again, I thoroughly enjoy listening to the characters speak as they are some of my favorite comedians and rappers. Each character falls flat and is more or less unnoteworthy. They all are caricatures and parodies of characters in family TV sitcoms.
Without strong, distinct characters on network sitcoms, makes it much more difficult for any story line to really come together. Whether animated or real person, network family sitcoms rely on the absurdity of the characters. In this show most of the characters are utterly forgettable.
The show is slated to produce 13 episodes in the first season. With only 5 episodes left, I merely hope the creative team can pull together something to save the show from a crash landing.
I would argue the show’s overall lackluster stems from the new streaming era. Due to the emergence of streaming platforms, TV programs, including animated no longer need to adhere to the previous story structure that network television required. Shows like BoJack Horseman and Big Mouth, have both broken the mold in how their stories are told. Both those shows are inventive in their own right, but tell their stories in a manner that has never been done before. With no commercial breaks. TV writers are not constrained by the commercial break blocking. This is unfortunate for new shows on cable network channels. It is hard for them to compete against shows that are inherently more creative. This is the case with Duncanville.
My overall feelings on Duncanville are best summarized by how Hulu treated me. I was watching the eighth episode on Sunday and after it finished playing, Hulu asked me “do you want to watch Bob’s Burgers?” The answer is yes, yes I did.