Creator: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Director: Joel Moser
Writer: Raphael Bob-Waksburg
Stars: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie
Release Date: August 22, 2014 (Netflix)
BoJack's first episode suffers from all the exposition and "getting to know you" business that many sitcoms initially deal with.
Last Friday the entire first season of BoJack Horseman, an all-new Netflix Original Series, was dumped onto America's favorite streaming service. If you've logged onto Netflix since then chances are that you saw it advertised across the homepage carousel. Chances are also good that you've watched some of it as it is still one of the most popular titles on Netflix Streaming.
For those not in the know, BoJack Horseman follows the titular character (voiced by Will Arnett) who happens to be a horse man, or rather, an anthropomorphic horse. He was the star of his own sitcom in the '90s, Horsin' Around, and is still living off those royalties today while he loafs around in his Hollywood Hills condo. In the series' first episode, "BoJack Horseman: the BoJack Horseman Story, Chapter One," BoJack attempts to make his life worthwhile by writing an autobiography. His girlfriend and agent, Princess Carolyn (a house cat humanoid voiced by Amy Sedaris), talks BoJack into hiring a ghostwriter after he makes no progress whatsoever.
Alison Brie lends her vocal chords to Diane, said ghostwriter. Along with BoJack's couch-crashing housemate Todd (brought to life by Aaron Paul), the two are the show's main human characters. Viewers must first grasp the oddity of a world (our world no less) being co-habited by mankind and animal-mankind alike. I guess the interspecies intimacy in the Shrek films challenged my logic enough (I'm looking at you Donkey and Dragon) to be able to accept when BoJack takes a lady he picks up at the bar to his bedroom.
BoJack Horseman is a strong example of adult animation. I don't mean to say that it's filled to the gills with naughty and perverted bits. Sure, there's some of that, but this show will primarily appeal to those who have a firm familiarity with America's celebrity culture. If it weren't a Netflix Original Series it would be right at home on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. I didn't find myself laughing out loud during the first episode, maybe that's because I internalized and thought about the clever material more than I found it to be particularly funny. The sensibilities and style are somewhere between Family Guy andArcher, but unlike both of those I feel BoJack himself is ironically far more relatable and likable than Peter or Archer. For me, that's going to go a long ways for my investment in the character.
BoJack's first episode suffers from all the exposition and "getting to know you" business that many sitcoms initially deal with. There's no easy way around this, but at least they lay down the groundwork necessary for future episode to get right to the new 20-minute problem at hand. The cast is ideal onscreen counterparts and Will Arnett has found yet another perfect match for his distinct voice (hear his Batman in this year's The Lego Movie for another example). Aaron Paul, who has struggled in a couple film roles in his post-Breaking Bad career has found a second home for his Jesse Pinkman persona, though Todd is much more laid back.
I believe it was film critic Matt Patches who tweeted that he'd be more interested in watching Horsin' Around, the faux show within the show that we see snippets of in the form of re-runs and BoJack's memories. I'm confident that BoJack Horseman, with all its meta potential and escalating contemporary satire, is the show I'd rather watch, but the first episode feels like the gates are still closed and this horse(man) has yet to begin the race. Hoof, I went there.
Just four days after its premiere it was announced that BoJack Horseman would be returning for a second season, proving yet again that Netflix is a great place to distribute a show, regardless of genre, demographic or content. If you've seen any ofBoJack Horseman I would love to hear your thoughts, particularly regarding the first episode. Join the conversation in the comments below!
Episode 2 and Beyond: Having watched a few more episodes I am happy to report that BoJack does take off from the launch pad built by the first episode. The characters grow on you and off each other and the antics absolutely ensue. Every time the show turns the magnifying glass back on itself to provide a searing commentary on the entertainment industry or society itself, I feel somewhat edified. Also, can we acknowledge how wonderful the opening credit sequence and closing credit music are? I'm always going to sit through those.
As a heavy consumer of film and TV with as many hours in the day as you, I will not be reviewing every episode of every show I watch. Instead, I find it most useful to examine the pilot (or first episode in cases such as this). Beyond that I might review choice episodes, a season as a whole or even the entire series. Then again, even I don't know what I might do as I'm fairly new to the TV analysis side of things. As always, I will appreciate and consider your feedback and suggestions going forward. Thanks for your readership.