« BETTER THAN 2014 | Main | THE MAN »


BordertownThe timing may be a little off — maybe it would have been better to have debuted just as The Donald began trumpeting about Mexican rapists and murderers surging across the border — but “Bordertown,” the animated prime-time series created by “Family Guy’s” Mark Hentemann and produced by FG’s Seth MacFarlane (with La Cucaracha’s Lalo Alcaraz as a consultant), began last January on Fox. From a review that came via Internet over the Rancid Raves transom:

If you thought the political debate over immigration has devolved into a cartoon, “Bordertown” finishes the job. This animated sitcom on Fox is as subtle and amusing as a brick border wall.

In the Southwestern town of Mexifornia, a Border Patrol agent, Bud Buckwald (Hank Azaria of “The Simpsons”), works ineptly to secure the national boundary and his own sense of primacy in his country. His next-door neighbor Ernesto Gonzalez (Nicholas Gonzalez) laughs off Bud’s casual racism, but tensions are about to rise as Mexifornia considers a draconian anti-immigration bill.

As in the political diatribes, “Bordertown” casts both sides in extremes. There are the Hispanic caricatures, like the tot at a barbecue who spikes Bud’s food with a blazing hot chili pepper from a bag marked Extra Caliente. There are the white caricatures, like Bud’s 5-year-old daughter, Gert (Missi Pyle), a pageant contestant who, for some reason, has a pronounced Honey Boo Boo Southern accent. Nearly everyone, white and brown, is drawn in a similar bulbous avocado shape.

Bordertown PostcardLike MacFarlane’s other animated shows, “Bordertown” aspires to the issues-based comedy of Norman Lear. When Becky gets engaged to Ernesto’s liberal nephew, J. C. (Mr. Gonzalez), it feels like a tribute to the Archie-versus-Gloria-and-Meathead sparring of “All in the Family.”

But despite the show’s apt timing, the satire gets swallowed up by the hyperactive joke engine. There are so many cutaway gags that the show feels bored with itself. The social humor is curdled and mean, and the non sequitur jokes — like a visit to “Goofy’s rape room” at a knockoff version of Disneyland — play like “Family Guy” outtakes.

The show’s most distinctive, slapstick running joke imagines the border battle as a Looney Tunes cartoon, where the roadrunner is a coyote: El Coyote, a wily immigrant smuggler who frustrates Bud’s elaborate attempts to capture him. (One involves a giant-spring contraption that might as well have ACME stamped on it.)

It’s pointedly silly stuff, but also a sign of the anarchic comedy “Bordertown” could be if it could escape the shadow of Peter Griffin, the father on “Family Guy.” As it is, the show may appeal to “Family Guy” die-hards, but mostly gives viewers of all persuasions cause to run from the border.


For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com


The comments to this entry are closed.