WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for Misfits & Monsters, debuting July 11 on TruTV.
Bobcat Goldthwait has had a strange career. He's gone from a wacky-voiced stand-up comedian to a gimmicky presence in low-brow mainstream ’80s comedies like the Police Academy series to an independent filmmaker whose movies have ranged from caustic black comedies (Sleeping Dogs Lie, World’s Greatest Dad) to found-footage horror (Willow Creek) to heartfelt documentary (Call Me Lucky) to whatever the heck Windy City Heat is. Goldthwait integrates a surprising amount of his showbiz experience in his new TruTV series Misfits & Monsters (premiering Wednesday), a half-hour anthology that’s part The Twilight Zone, part The State, and entirely representative of Goldthwait’s various twisted sensibilities.
The three episodes available for review all take different approaches to combining supernatural themes with dark comedy, to varying degrees of success. The best of the three is the series opener, starring Seth Green as a voice actor being stalked by the beloved animated character he plays on TV. Green brings his extensive voice-acting experience (on shows like Family Guy and Robot Chicken) to the role of Noble Bartell, who voices Bubba the Bear, a bumbling blue bear with the stutter of Porky Pig and the hunting ineptitude of Elmer Fudd. It turns out that Bubba isn’t very happy about being portrayed as a gullible simpleton, and he’s somehow escaped into the real world to torment Noble.
The show obviously doesn’t have a huge budget, but Goldthwait (who wrote and directed every episode) makes good use of his limited resources, and the animated Bubba convincingly interacts with the live-action performers (mainly just Green). Goldthwait effectively balances comedy and horror as Noble becomes increasingly unhinged, trying to avoid Bubba’s wrath, even though no one else appears to see the demented cartoon character. It’s the kind of story Stephen King might have come up with for a Creepshow segment, riffing on the process of artistic creation and also, as Goldthwait notes in the behind-the-scenes interview at the end of the episode, on the goofy stage persona that Goldthwait himself spent years trying to escape.