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DA Review: Cartoon Dump, Episode 1

If you’ve been neglecting your duties and not reading either this blog or Satellite News, then you’re probably not aware of Frank Conniff’s new project, a web series called Cartoon Dump. It’s an anti-children’s show, with a heaping helping of dark humor and gloom shrouded in the guise of Nick Jr. visuals and perk. After a short, live-action intro, they show a craptastic vintage cartoon, in what’s perhaps the most MST-like portion of the show. There’s no riffing, but there is a whole lot of bad. You can watch the series for free here.

The first episode opens with the cute and spritely Erica Doering, as “Compost Brite,” singing the cheery and simplistic theme song. After starting things off with a series of bulimia jokes to set the tone, Frank’s character is introduced. As Moodsy The Clinically Depressed Owl, Conniff is essentially playing TV’s Frank on a bad day. Moodsy goes on to introduce their “sponsor,” Little Boy Blue Anti-Depressants For Children, something that looks like an Invention Exchange right out of Deep 13, if you’ll pardon another MST3K comparison. From there, it’s onto the episode’s cartoon.

And that cartoon is Mighty Mister Titan, a very short slice of hell that makes it all too apparent that Dr. Forrester should’ve looked to the bastard children of the animation world in his campaign for global domination. The short is an amazing piece of crap that manages to blend physical fitness, patriotic propaganda, and a nearly Aryan animated host into a fetid milkshake of hell. The majority of the dialogue consists of a brain-piercing chorus of children shouting out, “One, two, three, four!” as the uncomfortably masculine host and his stick-figure companion repeatedly demonstrate three exercises. Once the cartoon finishes, Compost and Moodsy share a smoke and the episode ends, all in under eight minutes.

The first thing that hit me about the show was how alarmingly low-tech everything is, lacking a proper set and adequate lighting. I suppose that, after being accustomed to Mike, Kevin, and Bill’s various projects, I was expecting something on the higher end of low-tech. But that’s not important. The writing is pretty good, throwing in references to bulimia, the war in Iraq, suicide, and smoking – all excellently inappropriate subject matter. While they successfully convey the delightfully dark tone of the series, the jokes aren’t really as sharp as they could be, though I assume that’s just the result of its being the first episode. Given some time, this show could be quite exceptional. For now, it’s a fun novelty. We get to see Frank and his charming companions, and we get to cringe at an awful cartoon. A good deal, all in all.

Thumbs up, Frank. Keep at it.

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