Right Now Kapow

3 out of 5

Created by: Justin Becker and Marly Halpern-Graser

covers season 1

This is such a simple, but brilliant, idea: a Saturday Night Live-esque sketch show, but done as a cartoon.  There’s a tweak there that might not be initially apparent, but it interestingly makes a big difference: Yes, there have been skit-type animated series before – they’re rare, but something like the Robot Chicken format – but treating the characters as a “cast” – i.e. the same people in each sketch, in various costumes, a la SNL or the like – is, I believe, new to animation.  Now I’ve said “people” and “costumes,” but of course those are somewhat live-action defined limitations.  In Right Now Kapow, you have an anthropomorphic dog, and a character with an ice cream cone for a head, and a diamond-headed gal, and a similarly anthropomorphized moon, piece of candy, and a plant; costumes aren’t budget-limited approximations, but instead whatever an animator can dream up… which also means that diamond-head can be an uber-muscled hero in one sketch, then show up completely different stature and build in another sketch.  The same “what’s funny?” versus “what can we afford?” logic gets to apply to the sets as well, allowing for some insanely inventive extensions of jokes beyond the natural limits of what pithy reality would allow.

…But why does any of this matter?  How is this different from a regular sketch show?  And, yeah, I can’t exactly say, and therein lies some of the genius.  Because it alters your viewing habit: whereas Robot Chicken promotes an ADD, hit-or-miss, wait-for-the-next-sketch approach – affecting both the momentum-based writing and the way you watch it – RNK ends up creating affection for a particular character over another (because the voice of each role is kept consistent), just like with live sketch shows.  You start to get a sense of the different style of humor each character (and this presumably each writer) brings to their sketch, making it sort of a more – by my opinion – personal viewing experience.  I was bowled over with appreciative glee when I realized the gist (it takes an episode or two to digest what they’re doing), and although the show doesn’t make it past that three-star threshold, it’s more because of my personal preference for certain character’s / writer’s humor over another, which totals put to about half of any episode.  It’s a YMMV situation.  But if I were qualifying this just based on presentation gusto and the quality of the base idea, it’d be five stars all the way… and that “half of any episode” standard hasn’t tarnished my looking-forward-to viewing of the show because, again, it doesn’t seem as randomly enjoyable as other variations on this theme due to the ability to immediately nominate certain sketches  as your preference.

Of course, it would seem the viewing public disagrees, since the show was canceled after one season.  Bring on some more yelly CGI stuff, I suppose.