Two gunslingers face each other on a dusty
lonely street. A voice-over just as dusty tells us who these enemies
are, and how the townspeople will never forget this day. It's a scene
out of a thousand westerns, and almost as many western parodies.
But wait - is one of the two gunfighters
armless? Then things aren't quite what they seem in this lawless town
of Saddle Rash.
Nor is the narrator. Keenly aware that
he has only been allowed to narrate because no one else volunteered,
he strains to come up with exciting imagery and breathless commentary.
But deep down, he knows that most of the townsfolk don't hold him in
much regard. At the barbershop they even cough "sidekick," the worst
insult they can throw at an old coot.
And sidekick may be what he is, immediately
taking a shine to the no-armed man who rides into town one fine afternoon,
pearl handled pistols gleaming in the sunlight. Looking for Tommy Morgan,
the town's outlaw, this laconic stranger gets dubbed Slim, but in the
Eastwood tradition really has no name.
What he has is one really long, strong
tongue. Is it enough to pull a trigger when justice must be done?
That's for you to figure out. In the meantime,
enjoy this new show in the rotation of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.
Saddle Rash may seem like just another western, but by borrowing
the relaxed attitude of some other Adult Swim shows, it puts a fresh
spin on its attack.
In its dialogue and delivery, Saddle
Rash has a lot of the sensibilities of Home Movies. Characters
have a casual delivery even in quick-paced exchanges. They're not quite
bored, they're just talking like modern slackers stuck in the old west,
even though they all fit other stereotypes.
The town of Saddle Rash is just
like any other western town. Mulehands mingle with troublemakers. They
even have the requisite Mexican senorita, Inez, and her companion, a
Chinese coolie. Except they both look suspiciously like buffalo. (Makes
sense when you see it.)
The show also has a cool design, simple
and bold, without being grotesque (not even with the armless Slim, though
yes, he is even slimmer without arms). If anything, it's like a Jim
Mahfoud comic brought to life. Artistically, it contrasts nicely with
the Hanna-Barbera look that dominates Adult Swim.
Most importantly, the show is just funny.
In addition to the undercover buffalo, there are many concepts and jokes
that really fly.
On a sad note, this also features the
last voicework of Waylon Jennings, whose character hangs around in the
barbershop looking for witty banter and may have married his mule. It's
a sly throwaway performance that will be missed in future episodes;
Jennings was many things, but he wasn't a slacker.
Neither are the minds behind Saddle
Rash. It's hard work making 23 minutes this consistently funny.
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