Friday , April 19 2024
Nicktoons debuts a new absurdo cartoon spy series.

TV Review: The Secret Show

The newest addition to Nicktoons' Saturday nite bloc, The Secret Show is an estimably goofy cartoon spy series. Designed by animator Andrea Tran in the Colorforms style of Samurai Jack, each episode opens with "The Fluffy Bunny Show," a sappy kids' show hosted by an elderly Granny and crammed with cavorting bunny rabbits. But before we can get into the Bunny Show proper, two British secret agents appear on-camera to "clear this time slot!" and force Granny off-screen. And so the real Secret Show begins.

Our Show protagonists are Anita Knight (Kate Harbour) and Victor Volt (Alan Marriott), a clean-cut superspy team who work for the pseudonymous chief (his name changes daily and is usually snickeringly infantile, the better to contrast with his James Mason-inflected voice) of a top-secret org called UZZ. Anita and Victor are a perky team, prone to scat-singing their theme song as they race around their futuristic home city.

In the first ep (each half-hour contains two cartoons), the duo has to stop a master of disguise from stealing "the secret thing," a mysterious device that everybody but Victor knows about, from the inner bowels of UZZ hq. The chameleonic baddie impersonates both our protagonists, leaving their costume heads behind when he discards 'em, and manages to successfully swipe the "thing." The frantic chase – accompanied by suitably jazzy soundtrack – concludes on a bridge that's been nonsensically built over a smoldering volcano. Every now and then, one of the cast-off fluffy bunnies shows up on the fringes of the action.

All pretty silly kids' fare – and snappily delivered by voice artists Harbour and Marriott. If the show's computer animation (apparently produced in collaboration with the BBC, which first ran these shows) occasionally seems a bit float-y, the breezy writing by series creator Tony Collingwood and others more than makes up for it. At times – a sequence showing our spy-fighting couple as they pass through UZZ security, for instance – I was pleasantly reminded of Get Smart in its first funniest season. And while the premiere's second ep (Martians steal Earth’s gravity so they can have a falling down party!) didn't hold to the same level of inspired daffiness, it still had its moments and cemented one of The Secret Show's running gags: a bit where UZZ's Germanic Professor Professor (Rob Rackstraw) keeps asking our hero over the communicator, "Victor, are you still alive?"

Victor's weary response, "Yes, Professor, I'm still alive," got a chortle from me each time it was delivered. S'not "Sorry about that, Chief," but it'll do for coaching its young Nicktoons audience in the pleasures of comic absurdity.

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.

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