Legit Animation Blog – Mission Hill

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L-L-Legit! You are now reading “The Legit Animation Blog: Rendering Thru Reviews Edition“.

 In this special blog, I’m going to review one of the most underrated animated sitcom that should have more recognition for its airtime. . . Mission Hill.

When it comes to animated sitcoms that only ran for one season like Clone High, Undergrads and The Oblongs, Mission Hill became one of those shows that had some really great potential, but never stood out like other popular animated sitcoms like The Simpsons or Family Guy. Mission Hill immediately became a cult classic TV series from animated sitcoms…

The Premise/Story

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Mission Hill is a major area in the city of Cosmopolitan, where main character Andy French lives in an apartment with his roommates Jim and Posey. Andy is an aspiring cartoonist, who seems to have trouble with his life like his retail job and getting a girlfriend in Mission Hill. It makes the situation worse when his annoyingly nerdy younger brother Kevin French moves in into Andy’s apartment. These two brothers don’t get along well and often fight a lot. However, as they cope together more often in the apartment, they seem to show their supportiveness and caring nature as brothers.

Basically Mission Hill is a misadventure type of animated sitcom like the The Simpsons, The Critic and other animated shows in that category, but provides some very original ideas, slight character development and creative appeal in both the writing and visuals. This show was quite a hiccup when it first aired on TV from 1999 to 2000. It stopped airing on TV for over a year until it showed a few more new episodes in 2002. There was going to be 18 episodes of Mission Hill in total, but only 13 episodes were completed for its one and only season.

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I have some huge admirations for Mission Hill because it took a few risks in their comedy as well as having a laid back cartoony look, with good written comedy like the old Simpsons episodes had, containing adult content in the scenes (though it is not extremely explicit). In fact, former executive producers of the The Simpsons, Billy Oakley and Josh Weinstein created Mission Hill. So viewers will expect the familiar witty fun dialogue from older Simpsons episodes when they watch the show.

Viewers may even like the characters quirky quotes and stand out personalities, though they aren’t characters you wouldn’t want to look up to in real life. I also like the fact that it focuses more on the brotherly relationship between Andy and Kevin. They develop to respect each other as the episodes move on, though both Andy and Kevin can become cruel or misguided when they are at conflict with one another.

I even like the fact that Mission Hill have themes and plot about responsibility, social life, school, work, living independently, expressing youth, expressing homosexuality, partying, love relationships- Basically anything that happens in the real world, though it adds some cartoon touches to the character gestures in all of the episodes. If you like these kind of animated shows that isn’t too over the top and have a laid back vibe to it, then you will probably appreciate Mission Hill.

The Characters

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I say the characters overall are okay at best. There are some great characters that really stand out well while others just blend in the background or don’t provide enough screen time to be pretty memorable. Despite the cast of characters being careless, cruel or even annoying once in a while, people will get some great laughs from them. 

Andy French

(voiced by Wallace Langham)

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Andy French is the main character of Mission Hill.  A 24 year old roommate who wants to be a cartoonist, but lives a tough life with money problem like selling waterbeds at his retail job and dealing the expenses for his little brother Kevin. He’s pretty much a slacker that just lays back and drinks a lot when he needs to relax.

This seems like a character that people will not look up to for his laziness, but for his defence, can you really blame him? Not only his boss at the retail store treats Andy like crap, but he has to now take responsibility to take care of his brother’s life and schooling when his parent didn’t consult to Andy about Kevin moving in to his place. It really puts the guy in a tough spot to achieve what he wants to do in life. Although, you can also argue that Andy wants to go back to his youthful times and takes complete advantage of it.

While Andy French acts like a careless jerk (especially towards Kevin), he can provide some valid points about living independently, including caring about his only brother. Plus he can say some really funny things in the show.

Kevin French

(voiced by Scott Menville)

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Kevin French is Andy French’s younger brother. A 17 year old who is an over-achiever and overly panics when things are immoral. He really dedicates his nerdy flair when expressing his likings of video games, sci-fi content and other nerdy interest, but also holds a little more responsibility than his older brother Andy.

I have to admit that the first time I watched Mission Hill, Kevin literally annoyed the living hell out of me (his voice doesn’t help either). I couldn’t stand how much of a tattle tale he was to Andy and how he get over stimulated about doing something that was wrong. But as I watch the episodes now, I can understand that the writers wanted to portray Kevin like what nerdy teenage boys would act. He wants to do fun nerdy things, but also want to get accepted to a better college once he finishes high school. He’s like the male version of Lisa Simpson, but older and more of a dork.

Viewers will definitely get annoyed by Kevin the first time they watch Mission Hill, but they will get use to this character when they watch further episodes. Just like his older brother, he has his likeable and funny moments.

Jim Kuback

(voiced by Brian Posehn)

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Jim Kuback is the laid back roommate that lives with Andy and Posey. He’s been Andy’s friend since high school and a mellow guy who is surprisingly a genius on electronic items and computers that works as an advertising agent to market campaigns to appeal to generation Y.

I have to say that Jim is one of my favourite characters in Mission Hill. He always look so happy and mellow whenever he socializes with Andy, Kevin, Posey or other characters. But then again, he always wanted to get “toasted” if you get my drift. It’s funny that even when he stops Andy and Kevin from fighting one another, he acts completely chill and doesn’t yell like Andy and Kevin does. There are times where he got mad at people like Andy in one episode, but still acts calm when he holds grudges on them.  Jim’s mellow attitude always makes me smile and definitely makes Mission Hill great.

Posey Tyler

(voiced by Vicki Lewis)

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Posey is the hipster roommate that lives with Andy and Jim. She is described as a somewhat flower child that highly cares about health, nature and her plants.

I really like how odd and confused Posey acts towards the characters in Mission Hill. Her “deer caught in the head lights” eyes just adds spice to Posey, including an awkward voice that matches the character design perfectly. She doesn’t stick out much like Andy, Kevin and Jim does in Mission Hill, which is kind of a shame because she’s one of my favourite female characters on the show. However, she does have some best moments from Mission Hill, like going into her meditating trance in the episode “Day of the Jackass” (or “Stories of Hope and Forgivenesses”).

Interesting fact 

Voice actress Vicki Lewis stood with the gaspy voice in her audition for Posey after her dentist appointment and her voice affected it. The creators loved it and Lewis kept that voice for the character.     

Stogie

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Stogie is Andy and Kevin’s brain damaged pet. It’s a shame his parents don’t give a damn about the poor thing, but Kevin and Andy love their dog no matter how much people judge Stogie.

Nothing much to say about Stogie except he will do some lovably demented actions for laughs. He has a stomach made out steel that has consumed a remote control, cigarette butts and couch cousins in Andy’s apartment.

Gwen

(voiced by Jane Wiedlin)

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Gwen is the on and off girlfriend that Andy sometimes dates. She first met Andy at the same retail job that he works in.

Gwen is a pretty looking female character, but since there’s only 13 episodes in this series, she has appeared in a few episodes. I really like the fact that she is concern about her accomplishments on life compare to Andy, but unfortunately she doesn’t stand out that much. I think she’s okay at best.

Gus Duncz & Wally Langford

(voiced by Nick Jameson and Tom Kenny)

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Gus Duncz (left) and Wally Langford (right) are the homosexual couple that lives in the same building as Andy and his roommates.

Gus Duncz is the brute tough spouse of the couple. He is around his late 60’s who owns a diner in Mission Hill and can easily become stubborn for things that doesn’t seem like a big deal.

Wally Langford is the sensitively skinny spouse of the couple. Just like Gus, he too is around his late 60s who is a projectionist at an old theatre film.

For characters that are written homosexually in a North American animated sitcom, Gus and Wally are positively written well for a same sex couple. Normally characters that are written homosexually in animated sitcoms are there just for the jokes, like seeing two guys kissing themselves at unexpected moments. With Wally and Gus on the other hand easily defend their love for one another and do provide subtlety about their homosexual relationship. Think of Gus and Wally like the the cartoon versions of Mitchell and Cameron from Modern Family…except in their 60s.

Gus and Wally are my favourite supporting characters from Mission Hill. It’s even mind blowing when the last episode “I Married a Gay Man from Outer Space” (or “Plan 9 from Mission Hill”) was all about Gus and Wally’s past and the first time they met each other. I haven’t seen any other animated sitcom that has written same sex couples in such a respectable way.

 Tobey Mundorf and George Bang

(voiced by Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley)

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Tobey Mundorf (left) and George Bang (right) are Kevin French’s best friends.

George Bang is a Korean descent kid that is competitive in everything. He is definitely the most aggressive and sarcastic member of the trio where he’s forced to help his father’s store after school. George’s proudest possession is his Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game.

Tobey Mundorf is the opposite of George Bang. He is shown as the bigger guy and the coward type of the trio. His mother is very over protective for Tobey since he suffers many symptoms like allergies, asthma and hunger.

I personally think Tobey and George are okay characters. They don’t stand out well as the other characters do, but they are good minor characters when the plot revolves around Kevin, throwing at least some funny moments in the scenes.

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There are other characters in Mission Hill such as Ron, Natalie Leibowitz-Hernandez and Carols Hernandez-Leibowitz, but I find those supporting characters okay since they are pretty forgettable in the show.

The Animation

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The look for Mission Hill has possibly the most artistically fun style for an adult animated sitcom. It’s like if Andy Warhol’s artworks combine the style and animations from Daria and the Simpsons into a stew. There is a cool local tone that is consistent throughout Mission Hill and throws in some monochromatic visuals to make the scenes pretty effective for the context of the plot or capturing the city life in Mission Hill. The animations aren’t frames of masterpieces and has a quite static feel when the characters are in motion, though it still shows a great amount of weight, timing and easing ins and outs in the animation department.

“Crotch Love! “

Mission Hill is pretty creative in the animation part when characters are expressing something. For example, If a character is shaking rapidly from car vibrations or getting satisfying chills, the line work on the characters will move in a squiggle motion. Viewers can see the animations like a comic strip coming to life with familiar iconic symbols appearing when characters are showing emotions, such as hearts blooming when a character is falling in love or popping bubbles when a character is feeling drunk.

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Mission Hill overall takes some familiar tropes from cartooning and animations and put its own spin to present the cartoony ambience to adult themes, which I don’t see very often in other animated sitcoms targeted for older audiences.

Favourite Moment(s) from Mission Hill

Oh man, you can’t go wrong with the drunk moments from Kevin French in the pilot episode “The Douchebag Aspect”. This scene is a fan favourite from Mission Hill and it is also my favourite. Kevin makes a really funny, nerdy drunk by shouting out “Grubermeister!” like a over the top child on sugar, which this scene makes you slowly start to like Kevin more (despite going back to his annoyingly nerdy ways in later episodes). These moments from the first episode still makes me laugh to this very day, which never gets old.

  

Any art enthusiasts or anyone interested in art will find this scene surreal. It is funny how Andy, Jim and Posey are getting over excited for a painting show featuring Bob Ross like its some kind of football game. The scene is from episode “One Bang for Two Brothers” (or “Andy and Kevin Makes a Friend”).

It is really hard to find single clips of Mission Hill online so here’s a compilation video of the many funny moments from the show.

Favourite Episode(s) from Mission Hill

This was a bit of a tough decision to pick a favourite one, but I do have one episode that I seem to get a big impact on whenever I watch Mission Hill.

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“Happy Birthday, Douchebag” (or “Happy Birthday, Kevin”) had its comedy at low-key that focused mostly on Andy and Kevin’s characters and their brotherhood relationship. In this episode, Kevin experiences his first birthday in Mission Hill and expects it to be like back at his parent’s home. Andy always felt jealous at Kevin for being spoiled by his folks, always feeling left out from the family. This year, Andy does what he can to throw Kevin a birthday party, but Kevin disliked everything that Andy planned out for his birthday.

You would somewhat hate Andy for his douchebag attitude towards Kevin and even Kevin’s snobby rage towards Andy in this episode. However, Kevin and Andy’s relationship near the end of the episode becomes uplifting and somewhat heart-warming when they both thought about their past when they used to live with their parents. It’s a good episode that focuses heavily on Andy and Kevin and doesn’t throw in many funny moments in the plot. Okay, there was a subplot with Natalie keeping a snake in her home and the random perverted guy that whispered “penis” over and over in Kevin’s ear, but at least it wasn’t the main focus of the episode. Definitely a good episode if you want a good balance of comedy and drama.

Other great episodes that I like from Mission Hill are…

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 “The Day of the Jackass” (or “Stories of Hope and Forgiveness”)

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“I Married a Gay Man from Outer Space” (or “Plan 9 from Mission Hill”)

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“One Bang for Two Brothers” (or “Andy and Kevin Makes a Friend”)

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“Theory of Leisure Ass” (or “Unemployment 2”)

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And of course… “The Douchebag Aspects” (or “The Pilot Episode”).

My Final Thoughts

Mission Hill

Mission Hill had some great episodes with great executions, character development and well written humour. Although, there were some episodes that were okay at best. Like Clone High and The Oblongs, this was another show that I used to watch back in high school. While it took me a while to get used to the characters from the show, I found myself liking Mission Hill for its animation direction and quirky adult-like dialogue.

Mission Hill is available on DVD, but I will warn you that the music in the episodes were swapped with other music due to copyright issues. The music used in the DVD isn’t as fitting as the music tracks that originally appeared in Mission Hill when it was on television from 1999-2002. If the pop-ish music from the DVD version really makes you nitpick harshly about Mission Hill, then I highly suggest check the show online instead. However, if the swapping music doesn’t bug you at all and you care more about the comedy and characters in the show, then pick it up right away.

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It is a shame that Mission Hill didn’t continue on with no season finale to finish off its only season, but at least the last episode didn’t left me highly disappointed, unlike other animated sitcoms that only lasted for one season. Mission Hill honestly pointed out a lot of moral and sexual issues in the episode plots and wasn’t afraid to make innovating ideas for its comedy. That’s why I’m giving Mission Hill…

A Must Recommend

Now it’s your turn your express your thoughts about Mission Hill or this post about Mission Hill by leaving a comment below or by clicking HERE. I’ll see you all next time in another Legit Animation Blog.

LEGIT!

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