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article imageReview: 'The Awesomes' a great send-up of superheroes Special

By Michael Thomas     Aug 29, 2014 in Entertainment
When you mix the mind of Seth Meyers, a superhero story and a cast full of 'Saturday Night Live' alumni, you get 'The Awesomes,' a superhero parody that premiered on Hulu last year and will see its Canadian debut Sept. 4 on Teletoon.
On the first night of the four-day geek extravaganza Fan Expo Canada, in Toronto, Canada, Teletoon screened two episodes of The Awesomes. It's an adult-oriented cartoon co-created by Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker.
As superheroes get thrust further and further into the mainstream, a cartoon like this is a no-brainer, but it doesn't mean it's easy to balance humour and action as effortlessly as Marvel does in its movies. The Awesomes mostly gets this balance right as it tells a tale of a once-great superhero team rebuilt with less-than-super-heroes.
 Prock  and  Sumo  pose at  The Awesomes  press screening in Toronto on August 28  2014
"Prock" and "Sumo" pose at 'The Awesomes' press screening in Toronto on August 28, 2014
At the screening, press saw episode 1 ("Pilot: Part 1) and episode 7 ("Paternity"). In the pilot, we see awkwardly-named protagonist Prock (Seth Meyers) — the name is supposed to be a portmanteau of "professor" and "doctor" — taking on his arch-nemesis, Dr. Malocchio (Bill Hader). The city is wrecked and Malocchio mocks Prock before they get ready to do battle.
We then cut to six months earlier, where 90-year-old Mr. Awesome announces that he's retiring as a superhero, but more importantly as leader of the Awesomes, a government-funded and well-respected team of heroes. When teammate Perfect Man rejects taking the lead in Mr. Awesome's absence, Prock volunteers to take over, and when he does, every member of the Awesomes quits.
Prock and Muscleman (MADtv's Ike Barinholtz) are then tasked with assembling a new team in 48 hours, or they lose all government funding. With the help of secretary Concierge (SNL staff writer Emily Spivey), they manage to assemble most of their team: the crazed speedster Frantic (Taran Killan); the man with mystical powers — and also mommy issues — Impresario (Kenan Thompson); 11-year-old Hulk analogue Sumo (Bobby Lee); and an original Awesomes member who's turned into a 25-year-old, Gadget Gal (Paula Pell).
The other episode, "Paternity," follows Muscleman, who is slapped with a paternity suit for a child on a distant planet. The episode does a great job of fleshing out the various Awesomes team members as they interact with each other — Frantic and Impresario accompany Muscleman, Gadget Gal and Sumo take on the supervillain Birdmaster, and Prock and Hotwire (Rashida Jones) try to get Muscleman home.
The series' rapid-fire pace is its strongest suit; the heroes and villains move from one absurd situation to the next with just the right amount of time for laughter before the next joke. Muscleman and Prock are a classic fool/straight-man duo that bolsters the team, Frantic makes for great non sequiturs and Impresario is a fun character whose seriousness belies his deeper issues.
While not all of the jokes land (a joke about "Greg's List" goes on a bit too long), most do, like when Gadget Gal introduces Sumo with a less-than-politically-correct term only because they're talking to a room full of seniors.
The voice work is generally on-par; Taran Killan's speed-of-light delivery fits the insane Frantic's frame, and Bill Hader's italian accent as Dr. Malocchio is delightfully absurd, though Bobby Lee makes 11-year-old Tim (Sumo) sound a bit too old.
Whatever the case, The Awesomes is a promising and funny take on the well-worn trope of superheroes, and with its third season on Hulu recently granted, the series has nearly endless possibilities ahead.
More about the awesomes, teletoon at night, seth meyers, SNL
 
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