By Ed Sum
B.O.B. – Eric Edelstein
Link – Diedrich Badar
Susan – Riki Lindhome
Dr. Cockroach – Chris O’dowd
Dreamworks’ movie Monsters vs Aliens (MvA) was a great tribute to the iconic monster movies from the 50’s. These creatures banded together to fight space invaders. The two direct-to-video sequels, Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space and Night of the Living Carrots played tribute to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and Night of the Living Dead. They were hilariously well done. Fans could see that the production teams involved in those products clearly loved the genre, and that fondness is evident in how these three tales are produced.
But what happened to that love in the television series? The television premiere on Nickelodeon was barely passable. The team involved in bringing the series to the small screen must not share the same passion that the story creators of this series, Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon, had. The premise of the television show lack punch.
By episode two and three, all the fun drama and humor from the movie and direct-to-video shorts are gone in favor for more derivative product in the style of Spongebob Squarepants. Even when Susan loses her ability to turn into a giant, the depth she expresses for her lost ability is minuscule. Some viewers may well wonder if any of these any decent character development will occur in the series.
As for the comedy, even Beetlejuice’s stand up looks superior. B.O.B. is not as funny, the Missing Link isn’t as driven anymore and Dr. Cockroach is cantankerous. Absent from this crew of Earth’s saviors is Insectosaurus. Some viewers may well be wondering where he flew off to. Part of the problem this television series has lies in the delivery. Nickelodeon and Dreamworks’ promotion for this television series is low-key, and news is only as good for those markets interested in this show. According to a Los Angeles Times’ article, DreamWorks Animation SKG posted a loss in their profits and decided against producing a proper sequel. The studio also said the movie received a “tepid response in key overseas markets.”
In the television front, the same response may well repeat itself. Story editors Bill Motz and Bob Roth can craft some witty good-humored tales for animation, but in what they developed for the first episode felt forced. The comedy is not the same as the direct-to-video shorts. A different team is involved in creating the television series and their style is evidently not the same as the quality deployed by talents like Adam F. Goldberg or Bill Riling, who wrote Mutant Pumpkins and Living Carrots.
Maybe Motz and Roth is showing preferential treatment over which Dreamworks product they really like. The Penguins of Madagascar has been consistently funny and the MvA TV series just does not compare—even though the same production team is involved in crafting this new series. They may be showing weariness of having to repeat and rinse in the tales being told. More episodes will come, but as for when, the details are scant as for what the viewership ratings are like for this series.