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Drawn Together:
Cartoon Reality

Update 01/13/06: Drawn Together begins new episodes on January 25, with an episode that the producers refer to as "banned." They also confirmed with Fanboy Planet this week that they have been renewed for a third season of madness. And of Drawn Together.

Considering the strange and staggering amount of Disney porn out on the 'net, Drawn Together seems a little tame. But perhaps you are ignorant of such stuff; then the latest animated series on Comedy Central might very well blow your mind.

Luckily for deviants in search of a laugh, the show isn't just about showing a suspiciously Ariel-like Princess discovering a love that dares not speak its name. Though it freely skewers several types of animation, it also nails the reality television genre with a healthy dose of spite. Rather than be a one-joke show, Drawn Together has at least three. The weeks ahead promise even more.

Yet in a world where we have already had three seasons of The Surreal Life, Drawn Together feels less like parody and more like a logical conclusion.

In the opener, the cast gathers for their first few days away from their homes. Where, exactly, those homes are remain a little vague. Though Princess Clara lives in a far-away kingdom, establishing shots of the house reveal both Jetsons and Flintstones (or something very like them) as neighbors.

Creators Matthew Silverstein and Dave Jeser have chosen their cartoon stereotypes well. In addition to the Princess, they've got a generic superhero that looks like a Bruce Timm creation but acts like a bad Hanna-Barbera product. You might think they belong together, but watch out for that funky streetwise mystery-solving musician with the fake fox ears.

Those three get the most development in the pilot, though a half-hearted attempt is made to develop Zandir, a sexually ambiguous videogame hero (okay, the nipple rings give it away), and the faded 20's icon Toots Braunstein.

Gone to seed, Toots still sees herself as a sexy flapper, but once she has been rebuffed by Zandir, she happily settles in as the show's bitch. (Because there must be one; suddenly I have a vision of Toots and Jeri drinking mai tais together.) Though she develops modern addictions, the disturbing imagery used for Toots actually seem right out of classic Fleischer Brothers work. These guys know their history even as they befoul it.

Such action falls right into internet toon star Spanky Ham's purview. Perfectly voiced by Adam Carolla, Spanky gets little screen time, but doesn't need it. Each and every appearance sums him up. Only the bizarre Wooldoor Sockbat remains a true cipher, his purposeful resemblance to a certain yellow sponge notwithstanding.

My favorite character, used very judiciously, is Ling-Ling, the cutesy Japanese monster. The whole Pokemon concept has bothered me for years; Jeser and Silverstein have completely nailed why. Imagine Pikachu off his medication, and you'll understand Ling-Ling. The subtitles help.

Drawn Together is sharp, vicious and loony. Comedy Central has committed to eight episodes; I really want to see it last a second season, if only so that a Rugrat or somebody can get theirs.

Derek McCaw

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