‘The Aquabats! Super Show!’ is just the right amount of zany

The Aquabats — Courtesy of The Hub

The Aquabats! Super Show!, the new TV program from the co-creator of Yo Gabba Gabba!, is deliriously enjoyable. The superhero-themed show is the perfect blend of physical comedy and oddball behavior, reminding viewers of the great Nickelodeon programs from decades ago, including Pete & Pete.

Christian Jacobs, who found similar success with Yo Gabba Gabba!, plays The MC Bat Commander, the ring leader of the superhero team known as the Aquabats. They may look like silly extras from the original Batman TV series, but these five guys know how to fight crime, how to eat and how to rock out.

We first meet them in the series premiere at a teenager’s birthday party where they continue to play long after the revelers have gone home and passed out. It’s only when a nearby burger joint goes up in flames that the Aquabats are called into action. Their enemy in this inaugural mission is Manant, a tiny villain with the head of an ant and the body of a man. With ambitions of world domination (and grabbing a few burgers along the way), the diabolical insect yearns for destruction. It’s up to the Aquabats to save the day.

The 30-minute TV show, which recently premiered on The Hub, features live-action scenes, fake commercials and short cartoons. The commercials are quite funny, highlighting products that would likely never make it to market (this segment feels very similar to Saturday Night Live). The cartoons are even better. There are ongoing adventures featuring the animated Aquabats, plus there’s a nice little skit with a cartoon bat who runs into obstacle after obstacle (this segment feels very similar to Scrat from Ice Age).

Taken together, The Aquabats! Super Show! provides a great deal of entertainment. The children will be attracted to the craziness and pratfalls, while adults will enjoy the clever songs and obvious tributes to older TV shows. This one is a bona-fide winner: clever, infectious and brilliantly weird.

The Aquabats! Super Show! plays on The Hub — Photo courtesy of The Hub

The humor is well-earned, and each member of the band works for every laugh. In the season’s first two episodes, the ensemble tries perhaps a little too hard to keep our interest. The action scenes when the heroes fight these dastardly bad guys, including a mega-chicken in episode two, are prolonged and grow somewhat dull. There’s only so many fake punches and kicks a viewer can sit through before the humor dries up. The show is at its best when the guys are scheming in their motorhome, trying to figure out a way to stop the impending doom and fill up on some much-needed munchies.

Joining Jacobs for the Super Show! is bassist Chad Larson, keyboards and sax player James Briggs, drummer Ricky Falomir and guitarist Ian Fowles. Jacobs and Larson are the founding members of the alternative rock band known as The Aquabats, where this mythology began, but all of the guys obviously have a nice chemistry with one another. They look and sound like a real band, not like a bunch of assembled actors.

Time will only tell if the kiddies flock to the Aquabats like they have done with Yo Gabba Gabba!  The main difference between the two programs is that the Super Show! is much more inclined toward the older crowd. There’s nothing profane or edgy in the humor, but the sentimentality feels more akin to Adult Swim or even MadTV. I found myself thinking of many earlier influences, including In Loving Color and Pee-wee’s Playhouse — shows vastly different from each other, but connected by their uniqueness. The Aquabats have that indescribable appeal; they make us laugh by creating a ridiculous world where comedy is the only thing with a monetary value.

In the land of exclamation points, the Aquabats rule!

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

  • The Aquabats! Super Show!

  • Starring Christian Jacobs, Chad Larson, James Briggs, Ricky Falomir and Ian Fowles

  • Currently playing on The Hub on Saturdays at 11 a.m. EST

  • Rating: ★★★½

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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