"Lil' Bush" Episode 1: Lil' Rascals Gone Wrong
Imagine the current President Bush as a little child. Not too hard, yeah? Okay, now imagine his entire administration (Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, and the now unemployed Donald Rumsfeld) as little kids too. Then, imagine them in zany, madcap adventures where they get themselves in and out of trouble. This is the premise of Lil’ Bush, a new animated series premiering on Comedy Central on June 13 at 10:30 P.M. (ET/PT). The series consists of six half-hour episodes, with two shorts per episode. In an innovative twist, the show is the first to premiere on mobile phones (for more info, see ToonZone’s conference call on the subject here ). Comedy Central picked up the series, and the writers are completely revamping the five original shorts. The series has an impressive lineup, with Iggy Pop voicing Lil’ Rummy (little Donald Rumsfeld), and some big name musical guests to come.
However, despite the series’ cellular success and impressive staff, it’s stale from the get-go. Anyone who has ever watched a comedy program with a focus on social and/or political satire and comedy in the past seven years will have heard all these jokes before. The show paints Lil’ Bush as foolish, headstrong, and just plain stupid. Mocking George Bush is hilarious because the actual things he does are so comical. Jon Stewart’s Bush material is laugh out loud funny, because he’s making fun of real life news. He’s made watching the flesh and blood president on the news downright hysterical. On the other hand watching a little version of the president make stupid mistakes, mispronounce words, and do the headstrong things he does in real-life, just isn’t as compelling. Why watch a cartoon when the real thing is on CNN?
There are some time-line issues with the story as well. Lil’ Bush lives in the White House with his dad, George H.W. Bush, and his mom, Barbara Bush. George Sr. is president during this show, which works, because Iraq has been an issue in both eras. The show would be more effective if it were set in 2007, as there are numerous current day references like “French Class now Freedom Class,” and the “Green Zone” in Iraq serving as a front for “Halliburton Land,” where Saddam Hussein’s castle has been remodeled. Even brief references to “Brangelina,” and FOX News make the setting hazy.
One character that is particularly ineffective is Lil’ Cheney. He is portrayed as pure evil, something that is even written on the sonogram during the second short, when Lil’ Cheney gets stuck inside Barbara Bush during some perverse reenactment of “The Graduate.” If that weren’t sufficiently over the top, during the first short he bites the head off of three birds, proceeding to suck the blood out of them. His voice is something you have to hear to truly understand, consisting of incoherent grumblings intermixed with short phrases. The good thing is that it is clear that he is the evil doer of the bunch; the bad news is we’re pummeled over the head with it.
This isn’t to say that the whole show is bad. It does have some good moments, like when Helen Thomas has the press secretary in a headlock, and when we see the only affection Lil’ Bush receives from his father is passed on by way of James Baker (George Sr.’s chief of staff). And it is nice to see that no party is safe from the jokes. There could even be some dark humor in Lil’ Hillary working after school at an abortion clinic, although the scene is ruined by Lil’ Hillary and Lil’ Condi sharing a kiss for no real reason.
After just this one episode, I wonder if there is any topical content left for them to use. Practically all the bad sound bites have been trotted out, including, “Fuzzy Math,” “Stay the Course,” and “Cut and Run.” I will be tuning in to see if the content improves, and becomes more up-to-date. But in the meantime I’ll get my political comedy fix from The Daily Show. Mission accomplished.