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"Crash Canyon" Crashes and Burns

'Family Guy' Lite. Without even that many laughs.Canada’s TELETOON at Night is set to premiere the new comedy Crash Canyon alongside season 2 of Archer and season 6 of Futurama. There would be no reason for shame if the new comedy didn’t quite manage to measure up to such stiff competition, since Archer and Futurama are two of the funniest shows on TV right now. Unfortunately, Crash Canyon proves perfectly capable of looking pretty bad purely on its own merits (or lack thereof).

While off on a family camping trip, the Wendell family gets trapped in the location named in the title after taking a disastrously wrong turn. The canyon is also home to a batch of others who are also trapped there, and one presumes hilarity was intended to ensue. Unfortunately, there’s not much inherently funny about the concept, nor is there a lot of laughter to be mined from the execution. The episode provided for press involved the Wendell patriarch (so memorable I can’t even remember his name) losing his wedding ring in a poker game, and then losing his wife’s ring in an effort to win his own ring back. It’s only with the help of his unscrupulous son that he can win it back while hiding the loss from his wife. There’s another relentlessly unfunny plot about a dance party to raise morale that I’m guessing is meant to show how the Wendell’s daughter likes one of the boys in the canyon. This plot has to fall back on copious vomiting in its attempts at humor, and after watching this premiere, I can kind of relate.

During the entire screener episode of Crash Canyon, there was exactly one line that made me laugh (and, to be fair, it was a pretty big laugh). Unfortunately, the rest of the show was filled with moments that I could recognize as something that was intended to be funny, but which just didn’t make it all the way there. It felt like a poor derivative hybrid of Family Guy and Gilligan’s Island, with nothing added to either in the combination. It doesn’t help that the entire cast is populated with unlikeable, one-note stereotypes who fall back on really tired, old lines in their failed attempts at comedy. These aren’t characters as much as they’re character traits and non-sequiturs given human form and turned loose on each other. The shocking lines aren’t shocking enough to be truly outrageous, the sharp-tongued retorts are about as cutting as styrofoam, and the non-sequiturs just feel puzzling rather than genuinely funny (like the granny with a bear for a pet). Even the designs even feel derivative, to the point where Seth MacFarlane would be in his rights to sue for copyright or trademark infringement, if not defamation for attaching such unfunny material to something that looks like he made it. In the end, Crash Canyon is so uninspired that I find myself at a loss for words even to savage it.

There’s lots of animated stuff to like from our neighbors to the north, like Jimmy Two-Shoes, PBS Kids’ Martha Speaks, and a good chunk of the output from the National Film Board of Canada. Unfortunately, I’m afraid I’d rather leave Crash Canyon on that side of the border.

Crash Canyon premieres on TELETOON at Night on Sunday, September 18, 2011, at 9:00 PM (Eastern/Pacific)

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