‘Hot Streets’ is a bizarre, mediocre outing from Adult Swim
Owen Lane | Friday, February 2, 2018
“Hot Streets,” the brand new animated comedy from Adult Swim, appears true to the Adult Swim ethos of being jarringly weird and uncomfortably graphic with a fundamentalist fervor. However, unlike the network mainstays “Rick & Morty” and “The Eric Andre Show,” there does not appear to be much happening underneath the show’s bizarre exterior that makes for a worthwhile television show.
“Hot Streets” revolves around two unlikely detectives in their precinct’s investigative division known as the ‘hot streets’ department. The incompetent detectives Mark Branski and Donald French are assigned the paranormal cases in an unnamed cartoon city. Branski is a parody of the stereotypical curt, macho veteran detective, while French is his ridiculously naive and ambitious younger counterpart. The show also prominently features Branski’s niece, Jen, who lives with Branski alongside her dog Chubbie Webbers (voiced by Justin Roiland.)
The animation on “Hot Streets” is strikingly simplistic. The show’s style is reminiscent of the animation on Robert Smigel’s old “Saturday Night Live” ‘TV Funhouse’ shorts. The animation in “Hot Streets,” however, far exceeds the SNL shorts in its quantity of uncanny, surreal moments. It is also an incredibly violent show. Of course, a late-night cartoon about cops that hunt and kill monsters is bound to have some gore, but “Hot Streets” is absolutely excessive. Each episode seems to be about as gory as the infamous “Pickle Rick” episode of “Rick & Morty,” but in far more gratuitous way.
The fundamental problem with “Hot Streets,” however, is the series’ lack of ambition. For every clever thing that an episode gets right, it mishandles three for no good reason. The show may be an animated comedy on Adult Swim featuring the voice talent of Justin Roiland, but it explicitly lacks “Rick and Morty’s” most prized elements. Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon together created one of the most successful animated comedies ever by imbuing “Rick & Morty” with remarkably complex jokes, compelling character development, detailed animation, sight gags and a tantalizing series arc. In many ways, “Hot Streets” could not be further from the ethos of “Rick & Morty.”
Nonetheless, there are some definite bright spots in the show. For example, the bluntly moronic character of Branski can be absolutely hilarious at times; the show manages to pack in some surprisingly funny sight gags, like Branski and French both intently driving their squad car with two separate steering wheels. Roiland’s goofy talking dog character is surprisingly funny at times, but does not have much to work with much. Chubbie Webbers, while not entirely devoid of originality, feels like a Morty rip-off nonchalantly tossed into the series to generate buzz.
“Hot Streets” is perhaps the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever watched from Adult Swim. I have to give the network credit, airing a cartoon that is this bizarre represents a real commitment to their artistic mission. But “Hot Streets” will undoubtedly be too much for many, even loyal fans of past notoriously weird Adult Swim programs like “Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” The show will find its niche audience in the sliver of comedy fans who derive their greatest pleasure from being offended and made to feel uncomfortable sheer weirdness and eccentricity. “Hot Streets” is by no means the worst thing on television, or even on Adult Swim, but it is too nihilistic, underdeveloped and strange to be a part of Adult Swim’s impressive oeuvre.