Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim late night line up has made a name for itself by dealing in humor that is not meant for the little kids that watch the channel during the day. Shows like Robot Chicken, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Superjail tend to deal in violent and often random humor with little discernible plot. The latest late night offering, Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole is a little bit different from much of the line up. There actually is a plot for any given episode, that plot makes logical sense and even despite the dark setting and characters there aren’t undo amounts of gore and blood. Even with these shifts it’s a 15 minute program that is right at home with the rest of Adult Swim.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole comes from the mind of Dino Stamatopoulos who had previously created the religiously themed Moral Orel. Victor Frankenstein, in addition to his many other monstrous exploits, perfected the serum of immortality. He took it himself and also gave it to his wife, making them both ageless immortals. It all sounds good, but it’s not without complications. Victor didn’t have any serum to give to the couple’s children so the two are now wizened old men who still behave like kids, asking for bedtime stories and tuck ins for example. Truth told the couple would just as soon see their elderly children die but Victor has ticked off Death and now the Grim Reaper refuses to take his children away. An extremely long lifespan also means that Victor has indulged in virtually every carnal pleasure known on Earth and thus is completely jaded. With Victor now unable to perform in any but the most extreme conditions his wife Elizabeth is having a not so secret affair with Dracula. This is the setting in which various nefarious people (such as Hitler and the Wolf man) come to Victor to seek his dark assistance.
While the dark humor of Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole dabbles in the usual violent and sexual themes that are typical of Adult Swim they’re not nearly as gratuitous or over the top as many of the other shows. The ideas are outlandish but never in the senseless way that Adult Swim shows often are. The voice cast has definitely gone to the trouble to portray full characters and not just use goofy voices. Jeff Brian Davis as Victor in particular has a great offhanded delivery that fits perfectly with Victor’s inability to be impressed by anything anymore. Creator Dino Stamatopoulos also does some vocal work as the Grim Reaper and the rapport between that character and Victor is great fun to watch.
The animation style of Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole is fairly unique. Like some other Adult Swim shows, such asRobot Chicken, it’s done with stop motion animation. However the technique used for the facial animation is different from those other shows. The faces appear to be constructed of folded paper, this makes the movements and expressions on the faces of the characters particularly unique and fun to watch. The way in which the faces move is a bit smoother than is normally seen in these kinds of stop motion shows.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole works well in the tight 15 minute format that it uses and laughs come at a consistent rate. While few of the jokes are truly killer the humor rarely misses the mark completely. So for those with a darker side to their sense of humor who are up past midnight (or who at least have Tivo) this is a great way to chuckle away the early morning hours.