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Good Afternoon

'The Awesomes' review: Hulu cartoon from co-creator Seth Meyers has moxie


WHEN|WHERE Starts streaming Thursday, 10 episodes, on (free) and Hulu Plus (TV/mobile subscription).

WHY TO WATCH This is a 21st century (adult) superhero crew. Why wouldn't they get beamed onto the stage of an intergalactic "Maury"?

WHAT IT'S ABOUT That's right, the misfit do-gooders of "The Awesomes" wind up on-camera for "Who's the Daddy?" on the planet of Gleeboria. Its inhabitants have huge eyes that look like, um, well, they're fleshy globes with dot-like protrusions up front. (Never underestimate the "guy" mindset of animation.) Turns out, paternity suspicion has fallen on one among our next-generation superhero team. No wonder they considered the (apt) slogan "Our bar is lower."

Concocted by "Saturday Night Live"/"Late Night" star Seth Meyers and backstage co-creator Mike Shoemaker, "The Awesomes" unleashes heroes for our screwy times -- hapless embodiments of the current notion/fear that floundering young adults won't match their progenitors' achievements. Meyers voices Prock, who takes his retiring father's team of superheroes "under new leadership," only to lose all of them. His chosen replacements include interstellar lothario Muscleman (voiced by Ike Barinholtz, "MADtv," "The Mindy Project"). His would-be rescuer, Frantic (Taran Killam, "SNL"), is a flash-speed redneck who hankers for TV fame while regurgitating whatever he's seen broadcast. Impresario (Kenan Thompson) has mommy problems. The group's Greatest Generation throwback, Gadget Gal (Paula Pell, "SNL," "30 Rock"), spouts exclamations like "The kid's got moxie!"

MY SAY Pop culture runs amok in "The Awesomes." Everything and its antecedent is crammed into the episode Hulu provided for preview. (It's logically titled "Paternity.") You want vintage TV wrestling moves? Here's a folding chair. You want smartphone apps? Let's go with Villain Finder. Web bottomfeeders here consult Gregslist, the place to find "something even Craigslist won't touch." Besides "Maury," television tropes reach into reality-competition shows. Prock can pause time, so he takes the opportunity for sidebar scheming with himself, like a confessional contestant. Even Hulu's "backstage" promo clips are self-aware: Characters who talk out of turn beg an unseen interviewer to "edit that out."

So it's cheeky parody/homage, exhibiting affection for comic books and other pulpy amusements, while maintaining such a zippy pace, there's no time to consider whether it hangs together. Or whether that matters. (Great voice cast, though.)

BOTTOM LINE The show's got moxie!


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