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Heads Up! "The Amazing Screw-On Head" Pilot Rocks!

Having been a big fan of the original comic book since it’s release in May 2002, I have to say I’m relieved. Not only does The Amazing Screw-On Head pilot hold up to the comic, but it stands on its own as the start of what could be a potentially awesome animated series, offering both a unique visual style and a fresh brand of action-adventure and comedy. Sci-Fi.com’s “Pulse” currently has the pilot viewable online, where fans can also take a short online survey of the show to share their opinions about it.

Part of the beauty of this 22 minute pilot is that Screw-On Head writer/artist Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy, lends his hand as its art director, and does it ever show on screen. Fans of Mignola’s artwork will quickly recognize that this animation is quite literally a direct translation of his art style. This alone is a tremendously enjoyable aspect of the cartoon, quickly setting it apart visually from any other animated series currently on television.

The animation, provided by DR Movie, is overall very solid. DR Movie has provided animation for DC Animated properties like Mystery of the Batwoman and Justice League Unlimited. The studio does a very good job here delivering a strong and consistant quality of animation. I have very few complaints at all about their work here. My only quibble, which is very minor, is that effects-wise, such as its smoke and explosion animation, it is rather generic compared to the unique and abstract way Mignola renders such effects in his comics. I would’ve liked to see their effects animators translate Mignola’s style of smoke effects and explosions straight to screen rather than rely on their stock approach to such effects animation, which any fan of Justice League Unlimited has seen time and again.

Visuals aside, writer/executive producer Bryan Fuller delivers a very strong story and some surprisingly developed character relationships. Granted, the story follows the comic pretty closely, but Fuller does a great job building upon it further and adding some very interesting situations and character exchanges. All of the additions and adjustments made to the framework of the comic’s story succeed here and didn’t feel at all tacked on. I was very pleased with the history implied between Screw On Head, Emperor Zombie and Patience the Vampire, exploring territory that the comic never covered. I was impressed that mostly every character was given their own neat little moment to shine on screen. Even Screw-On Head’s dog, Mr. Dog, gets his due with a few very funny moments.

The voice cast are all well chosen and appropriate for their roles. Paul Giamotti as Screw-On Head and David Hyde Pierce as Emperor Zombie both do a good job in their roles, though I must say I enjoyed the latter the most. Pierce brings just the right tone to Emperor Zombie, giving him a certain whimsical quality that makes him so much more charming than he is in the comic. Giamotti isn’t someone to scoff at though, as he plays Screw-On Head perfectly with just the right balance of goofiness while playing him straight as an obedient government agent.

This cartoon is highly recommended. The team behind this project not only made a stunning tribute to the source material, but crafted a pilot that could go on to be a very satisfying animated series. Click here to visit Sci Fi’s website to see for yourself why Screw On Head deserves strong consideration to become an animated series.

The Amazing Screw-On Head premieres on The Sci Fi Channel July 27th.

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