As the publisher of the comic book Stewart the Rat about a walking, talking, suit-wearing rat in a world of humans, I had to watch last night’s premiere of Gary the Rat to see if I could count on a surge of consumer interest anytime soon.
Trust me, I’m not rushing to go back to press.
Gary (voiced by Kelsey Grammer) is a lawyer who has turned into a giant rat, apparently solely for karmic reasons. In the premiere, he is faced with a make-or-break-his-career case in which he must represent the manufacturers of a harmful product.
(The product is, of course, tobacco. TV shows are glad to use tobacco as the villain, because tobacco companies can’t advertise and thus can’t pull their advertisements. Not that I’m a fan of tobacco companies, but in terms of daring maneuvers it’s about as bold as picking on the Amish.)
Unbeknownst to him, Gary is also being hunted by an obsessed exterminator who seems to be a purposeful reconstruction of the obsessed, ever-losing antagonists of 1970s Saturday morning cartoons, Wile E. Coyote stripped of his style, grace, and pathos.
The show isn’t funny, though I think it’s makers think it is. I think they think it’s crude humor, but it doesn’t even have that much crudity in it; some disrespect of the elderly and some random violent moments, but nothing that has an impact. The animation is cheap and shoddy. I’m not sure who this is aimed for; I’ll be surprised if it builds up a sizable loyal following. But I’ve been surprised before.
Yes, the show looks cheap, but that doesn’t mean it has to be bad. Smart writing can win out over cheap animation easily. If SpikeTV (or whatever they end up calling it in the wake of ludicrous lawsuits) needs something cheap, funny, and male, then they should look to the web for the self-style macho of
StrongBad E-Mail, which would make a fine series of shorts interspersed in some anthology show.