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MISSION HILL.(Review) / (television program reviews)

Author/s: Laura Fries
Issue: Sept 20, 1999


Filmed in Los Angeles by Bill Oakley/Josh Weinstein Prods. in association with Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein; writers, Oakley, Weinstein, Aaron Ehasz, Andrew Kreisberg, Ben Kull; editors, Eric Gregory, Kurtis Kunsak; sound, Bobby Mackston; music, Eric Speier; casting, Brian Myers. 30 MIN.


Voices of:
Andy French                      Wallace Langham
Kevin French                      Scott Menville
Jim Kuback                          Brian Posehn
Posey Tyler/Natalie
 Leibowitz-Hernandez                 Vicki Lewis
Gus/Mr. French/Stoogie              Nick Jameson
Wally                                  Tom Kenny
Hernandez-Leibowitz             Herbert Siguenza
Gwen                                Jane Wiedlin
Mrs. French                      Tress MacNeille


Who says there isn't ethnic diversity on television? "Mission Hill" is rife with cultural cross-references, alternative lifestyles and that most dreaded of all demographics, the urbanite. Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein's spirited animated haft-hour comedy is a hilarious sendup of everything Gen X, from MTV and alternative music to youth marketing. The beauty of this satire of America's youth-obsessed culture is that it's sure to attract the very audience it skewers. Catchy title song by Cake and a hip music score by Eric Speier serve as an entertaining but glaring reminder of WB's targeted 12-34 audience.

Created by former scribes for "The Simpsons," "Mission Hill" is the fictional metropolitan neighborhood home of Andy French, an aspiring cartoonist who makes his rent working at a Waterbed World, where he is dubbed the Spartacus of slave wages. When his parents decide to leave suburbia for the Wild West of direct mail marketing in Wyoming, they leave Andy's younger, nerdy brother Kevin in his care.

Andy, naturally, resents the crimp in his lifestyle, while Kevin relishes the idea -- if not the reality -- of embracing new ideas and cultures. The sheltered Kevin, who's only other foray into the city was a visit to an allergist, is repeatedly shocked by this world filled with occult bookstores and a lesbian bakery that sells non-phallic eclairs.

"Mission Hill's" script is easily the funniest of the new season, with dialogue -- not sight gags -- ringing up the lion's share of laughs. Wallace Langham and Scott Menville, who provide the voices of Andy and Kevin, aren't particularly distinctive or inspired, but Brian Posehn and Vicki Lewis as Andy's roommates Jim and Posey are.

Grossly exaggerated sound effects by Joel Shryack and Norm Macleod and retina-burning colors give "Mission Hill" a distinct feel, even in the overpopulated world of TV animation. Not as pretty as "SpongeBob SquarePants" or as ugly as "South Park," "Mission Hill" resides in its own aesthetic neighborhood where the animation is just a vehicle for clever writing.3

COPYRIGHT 1999 Cahners Publishing Company

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group