Wednesday, July 27, 2016

RR Dan Vs.

There is an old saying: 

"Revenge is a dish best served immediately"!

Name: Dan Vs.: The Complete First Season
Created by Dan Mandel & Chris Pearson
Original run 2011-2013
Genre Sitcom parody animated series

This here is the perfect example of why it's important to have a show on a proper fitting channel.

Dan Vs. is a short lived cartoon created by Dan Mandel and Chris Pearson. The show only ran for 3 seasons, and if you ask around they'll even say it's still currently on hiatus and not canceled.

It originally aired on The Hub, which at the time was a fairly new network created by Hasbro that was mostly known for just Transformers and My Little Pony material. They were looking to develop some original new shows (to avoid just airing reruns of, for example, the 60s Batman TV series). 

And that is how Dan Vs. ended up on a new kids cable channel.

Dan Vs. was originally pitched as a live action sitcom. Due to a lack of interest from producers, Dan Mandel & Chris Pearson were kind of forced to go animated, and that actually ended up opening up a few more possibilities for their creation. They pitched it around to various networks - including the more fitting [adult swim] - but nobody picked it up right away.. until The Hub.

The show is mostly based on the series creators, the two main characters' personality loosely based on Dan Mandel and Chris Pearson.

There's also some inspiration from the works of cartoonist Evan Dorkin, and the creators have also go on saying they like to consider Dan to be a parody of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes as a grownup with a life that went horribly wrong at some point.

Dan Vs. would air for three seasons from January 2011 to March 2013.

The show revolves around the eponymous Dan, an early 30s-something jobless loser that hates everything. That's the show!

Well, Dan always finds new things to hate anytime something makes him angry - aside from animals! - and then he explodes in anger and rudeness and tries to have his revenge! Dan lives in a motel room with a female cat he rescued once, Mr. Mumbles.

His best friend is Chris, basically the complete opposite of Dan. Chris is an all-around nice guy who is married and lives in the suburbs. Chris always ends up going along on Dan's evil plots. Because he truly believes there's something worth saving in Dan. They've been friends since summer camp as kids.

Finally there's also Chris' wife, Elise. Elise doesn't want Chris participating in Dan's revenge ploys. But she sometimes joins Dan's crusades herself. She's also secretly a super spy that works for the government, which provides the subplot in most episodes. She sometimes assist Dan as an outside force with hi-tech help.

All in all, the series is really about going against dumb things society enforces.

Episodes follow a fairly formulaic structure, they are 20-minute long.

The show was actually entirely animated through Adobe Flash, which I find kind of impressive at times! To keep things simple and cheap.

The cartoon stars 80s cult star Curtis Armstrong, Dave Foley and Paget Brewster as our three main protagonists. Curtis Armstrong was the perfect voice for Dan, they wanted him since the beginning even for the live action version of the show! Dave Foley's Canadian background, which also provided some funny storylines on Newsradio, is also played with here through Chris' roots.

For animation fans this show features a pretty great cast which includes Mark Hamill, Grey Delisle, animation veteran Tom Kenny, Carlos Alazraqui, John DiMaggio, Kevin Michael Richardson, Tara Strong and Cree Summer. We also have some great guests such as Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross (of Family Ties fame!) portraying Elise's parents! Some of the antagonists also count Felicia Day as "The Boss", Seth Green, Ernie Hudson and Harland Williams!

The series itself is set in Los Angeles, and some of the episodes even feature some famous landmarks!

Dan Vs. is a really funny show!

Our "anti-hero" protagonist is really different from anything shows usually revolve around (even more so for a kids show on The Hub!).

Dan lives in a motel! A lot of fun facts build over the course of the series such as birthdate, Halloween 1975, to being tear-gassed so many times he doesn't feel it anymore, being a lactose-intolerant main character, etc.

Chris is also very engaging as this best friend, big pushover. And beneath Elise's calm and kind persona on the surface is a really dangerous woman really annoyed at Dan.

The first season aired from January 2011 to July 2011 for a total of 22 episodes.

In the first season, the show sent Dan against New Mexico, the Wolf-Man, the dentist, a ninjaCanada, baseball, the beach, George Washington (!!), technology, a barber, art, a mysterious creepy well-adjusted friendly "Imposter Dan" and even a Lemonade Stand!

Over the course of this first season Dan sets revenge on a loud noisy animal shelter across the street and saves a cat from it. Our angry little protagonist with anger management issues sometimes tries to keep his rage in check, but a last straw always make him explode in anger.

His sole purpose in the show is to simply get even.

It's a very childish downward spiral...

Let it be said, Dan Vs. was probably not right for little kids. It probably wasn't even meant for them at the start despite airing on The Hub, the creators of the show probably never meant it for kids. 

Dan makes for a fun angry main protagonist. He's an oddball jobless short-tempered angry dork that will do anything in his power to get back at anyone that wronged him - something a lot of us can find themselves in him.

It's a great concept! They go on all sorts of ridiculous adventures (like trying to have a revenge on Canada)! The show featured such a fantastic voice cast! The real heart of the show was the dynamic between these 3 main characters. There were a lot of little sight jokes. It had a fresh fun formula! This first season even contained a few noticeable standout episodes!

A lot of episodes also ended with Dan's foes shouting at the skies as well, you can imagine had the show been given a proper ending that storyline would have come back to bite Dan in the butt!

Finally the shows was nominated to all sorts of Awards during its run, it even won the "Outstanding Directing in an Animated Program" Daytime Emmy Award back in 2013!

Overall, Dan Vs. was a fantastic series! It was a funny witty comedy that never took itself too seriously.

It was such a fun idea! Easily the best thing to have come out of The Hub in my eyes. Recommended to any cartoon and sitcom fans out there! It's a fun reversal of those bored old clichés and tropes. With great funny writing, each episode never afraid to go on a completely different direction each time. Dan is a great anti-hero. This never felt like a cartoon aimed for kids. Dan always ends up trying to strangle and insult anyone that bothers him! And we even get some fun social commentary out of some of these episodes. Sure, the animation was not always the best, although it did improve over the two later seasons.

Two more seasons would follow - a season 2 aired from November 2011 to June 2012 for 18 episodes and a 3rd season followed from November 2012 to March 2013 for 13 more episodes - for a grand total of 53 episodes.

Sadly, the show would be sort of cancelled without any proper information between The Hub and the creative team working on the show. It has been put into a continuous hiatus despite its creators reminding us time and again that the show is not actually official canceled and it might still return someday. But I consider it cancelled by now.. The show was put on hiatus the same year it won the Emmy Award! None of the staff actually ever received a proper explanations but I imagine it simply aired on the wrong channel at the wrong time. Curtis Armstrong even tried asking around, but they keep telling him it's canceled...

And part of me kind of wish we could have gotten an animated point-and-click adventure game out of this series... 

I give it:
2 / 3 Felixes!

No comments:

Post a Comment