Napoleon Dynamite the series
Episode 1: Thundercone
Created by: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess
Starring: Jon Heder, Aaron Ruell and Efren Ramirez
When Kip throws greasy chicken skin on Napoleon’s forehead it causes him to break out in spots. But when Napoleon gets the last tube of a banned ointment it leads to him becoming a raging maniac. When a secret underground fight club approaches Napoleon to fight with them, all roads lead to… Thundercone.
Ever since Napoleon Dynamite graced cinemas in 2004 fans have been hoping to see him and his macabre cast of supporting characters make a return… but it has to be said, few saw this coming.
The series comes across as somewhere between King of the Hill and Clerks: The Animated Series. With all the characters voiced by their movie counterparts, the show really, really feels like Napoleon Dynamite. Which is a strong point right out of the stables. Heder and Ruell, as Napoleon and Kip, especially feel perfectly in balance with the original incarnations. Their bickering is bang on and raises more than a few smiles and is the only thing that really keeps this pilot episode afloat.
And when it works, it really works. It is best when the two central characters are taunting each other with all the others coming and going in the background and the world they inhabit feels on the money, if a little too, em, bright?
And the animators have the mannerisms to a tee… you’ll snigger as Napoleon gets knocked into lockers and giggle as he drops his shoulders and lurches off.
But the only problem, and it’s a big one sadly, is that it’s not sure what it wants to be. I made the comparison to King of the Hill and Clerks earlier but the problem is Napoleon isn’t sure what exactly it is.
Is it a realistic, albeit animated, series like King of the Hill? Well yes, sometimes.
Is it simply a string of gags set within a world where anything can happen, like Family Guy? Well yes, sometimes.
The schizophrenic nature of this first episode was its weakness. In the world of the Napoleon Dynamite movie our hero would never find himself in a cage fight, but he does here. Corrosive sweat would never pour from his head and burn through floors, but it does here. And it makes it a mish-mash that never feels at ease with itself.
Napoleon’s world was bizarre, yes, but never fantastical. I feel that it is already in danger of going down the road of Clerks whereby it was a perfectly serviceable show – I really liked Clerks and still revisit often – but sadly could never work out what it was and alienated the fans, the newbies and the execs.
But… that all said, few shows hit a perfect score on the first episode, so I’m definitely going to stick around, and by no means let me put you off.. if you like the movie you’ll probably dig this too, even if it leaves you a little confused as to what you just saw.
So, a little jaded, but still foolishly optimistic then…