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"Stroker and Hoop": A Bad Comedy Central Cartoon Posing as a Bad Adult Swim Cartoon?

I think I now see why Adult Swim is starting to branch out to Burbank and outside studios for their animated material. It seems clear that their Atlanta studios just can’t cut it anymore. I don’t know what else to say. Sealab was cancelled because the writers knew they ran out of ideas and jokes two seasons early, Aqua Teen Hunger Force lost its B-movie horror edge and became flat and unappealing, and everyone knows my feelings on Robot Chicken. Even if you haven’t read them. Look this is me we’re talking about here. You know.

The one show I do like on Adult Swim is Turner Studios’ Harvey Birdman, because it’s brisk, tightly directed, has excellent animation, and is able to toy with its own traditions enough to keep things from getting boring and stale. It’s a show that enjoys being a cartoon without turning into an Andy Kaufman-style mess. Now Turner Studios has a new show, Stroker and Hoop, which manages to remove everything I liked about Harvey Birdman without really adding anything in return.

Stroker and Hoop is a sendup (at least it would be if it actually tried spinning conventions in new directions) of the 1970’s cop genre. Stroker is an overweight, deadbeat dad who’s divorced and has no real connection with his kid. He’s lazy, but focused and snarky. Like Jay Sherman, only, you know, not funny.

Hoop is one of the most irritating characters Adult Swim has introduced since Clarence from The Brak Show. My beef with characters that are supposed to be obnoxious is that if their chemistry with the opposing character doesn’t yield any amusing jokes, then why do they exist at all? Hoop doesn’t say anything funny. Agitating Stroker doesn’t yield any witty back-and-forth. He’s a completely useless partner and a completely useless character.

Speaking of useless characters, C.A.R.R. is equally and unavoidably grating. Voiced by Paul Christie who you may remember from Brother Bear commercials (come on, I know none of you actually saw the movie), C.A.R.R. is, I guess, supposed to be a spoof of talking cars. But it’s not a spoof at all. C.A.R.R. is as idiotic as the talking Gadgetmobile in the Inspector Gadget live-action movie, and that movie was for kids. He cracks some definition of “wise” I’m unfamiliar with, since none of it is wise or amusing, and barely has any use in the plot. What is the point of him talking? Honestly, I just don’t know. Does Casper Kelly (the creator) actually think talking inanimate objects are funny? Maybe he should’ve just done a Brave Little Toaster series for Disney and saved us the embarassment.

The episode I saw was not even animated at Turner Studios but at Studio B in Vancouver. And talk about underwhelming. The animation is, without a doubt, worse than Birdman’s. Maybe it was a fluke of bad storyboarding, but the poses were awful and the animation ineffective. I’m sick of seeing fight scenes in Flash that aren’t exciting or well thought out. The same boring, flat horizontal view, pretty much no choreography, and the fight scenes end just as invisibly as they began.

This show doesn’t feel like it belongs on Adult Swim. It’s slow, it plays itself too straight to be a parody, its jokes are few and far between, it has pointless characters in the main cast, and its animation is weak. It seems like it would feel more appropriate sitting next to Kid Notorious and This Just In in the pile of quickly-cancelled Viacom flashimated garbage.

I’m not mad that Cartoon Network has put out yet another terrible show. Just disappointed. Disappointed that the general public accepts these shows as “okay” when they deserve better, disappointed that so much bland, mediocre animation has come through the pipeline on cable TV in the past year that it’s erased almost all vestige of viewer standards, but most of all, disappointed in Adult Swim, which is supposed to be the animation fan’s savior from toxic corporate culture, for pushing out stuff that either falls right in line or goes so out of its way to be different that it ends up with no appeal whatsoever (as in 12 Oz. Mouse).

Oh, well. I’ll keep watching and hoping that the tide changes. That’s all I ever do anymore. Though I’m afraid that, eventually, I’ll just stop watching.

Stroker and Hoop premieres on Adult Swim Sept. 4.

Related Articles:
“Stroker & Hoop”: The Case of the Dull Detectvies (sic) by Shnay
“Stroker & Hoop” Needs Puppets, And More Talking Car by Duke

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