05 May 2004 9:57 pm

Megas XLR came out last Saturday (May 1, 2004) on the Cartoon Network. At its heart, it’s a goofy Giant Robot Show. And a buddy comedy. And a fish-out-of-water story.

The basic premise is that the distant future, the Glorft, an advanced alien race, has come to invade the Earth, and have managed to do so with amazing success. Commander Kiva, an ace mecha pilot, has stolen the Glorft’s prototye weapon, the M.E.G.A.S, and retrofitted it for use in mankind’s struggle. She intends to send the rebuilt M.E.G.A.S back in time to a point two years prior, where it can be used in a crucial battle to repel the Glorft. However, mischance ensues, the temporal vortex used to send the M.E.G.A.S back goes haywire and sends the M.E.G.A.S, Commander Kiva, and the Glorft flagship back to 2004, and present-day New Jersey.

JamieMegas XLR Main Cast

The cast of Megas XLR

Coop, your average motorhead, fast-food-eating, videogaming slacker, finds the abandoned M.E.G.A.S in a junkyard, buys it for two dollars and subsequently pimps it out (painting on eight-balls and speed-flames), and replaces its missing head-unit with what appears to be a Ford Mustang (or similarly-shaped American muscle car). All is well until Kiva arrives, followed closely by the Glorft.

Now, that rather basic encapsulation of the plot doesn’t do justice to this show’s humour, which ranges from the subtly understated to the outright in-your-face variety (come on, how could you not laugh at the sight of a giant robot performing a backbreaker suplex on a processed cheese monster?).

A large chunk of the show’s humour dynamic comes from the character interplay between laconically cocky Coop, his slacker buddy and comedic foil Jamie, and the fish-out-of-water Kiva (another in a long line of agressive redheaded mecha pilots). David Deluise (Dom’s kid) does a great job as Coop, but mad props go to Steven Blum’s (Spike from Cowboy Bebop, and Roger Smith from Big O) rendition of Jamie, and Wendee Lee’s rounds out the cast by going back to her Asuka roots as Kiva.

The show’s creators, Jody Schaffer and George Kristic have stated that Megas XLR is pretty much a “guy’s show”, and it pays homage to their influences. For example, Coop’s [email protected] l33t sk1775 with the Megas are borne from his deep immersion in video games and this is reflected the fact that the controls of the Megas are comprised of joysticks, a PS2 gamepad, what appears to be a classic black-and-white Gameboy, and some version of a DDR pad.

Dash, left sideDash, right side

The Megas’ controls

The show is similarly peppered with anime references: in the first episode alone, the Megas busts loose with a Yamato Wave Motion Gun blast.

Yamato Wave Motion Cannon

Wave Motion Gun: Armed!

and in the start of the second episode, we find the boys sunning themselves on the Megas, while the Autobot Matrix of Leadership is displayed prominently in the background.

Autobot Matrix of Leadership

Light our darkest hour

The show’s real genius is in the weird details. I mean, how can you not love a show where the Megas is entered into a custom car competition, where it competes in such categories as Speaker Volume, Transformation, Truck Pulling and Flame Exhaust?

One downside of this show seems to be it’s lack of a strong plot, though this may be because only two episodes have aired so far. Another mild annoyance is the naming conventions used. Glorft? Warmaster Gorrath? Ugh. Sounds like a bad D&D session, really.

My bigger beef is with the villains of this series. I’m really getting tired of the humour from comedic villains being sourced in their ineffectualness. Having Warmaster Gorrath stumble about on screen is like watching Cobra Commander without the deranged charm, or Starscream without his impotent bluster.

I’m still undecided about some of the sound effects; I’m fairly sure the cheeze-factor is intentional, but something about it annoys me terribly.

But, as I said before, it’s only two episodes in, and they’ve covered a lot of good ground in those two episodes. Maybe my complaints will disappear once I’ve seen more Megas in action.

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