As a child, I remember being livid with my mother for refusing to let me watch Ren and Stimpy, even though it was a cartoon and it seemed silly and my friends’ parents were letting them watch it. I feel certain that if I was a child and The Oblongs were on television, it would also be banned from our household.
Creator Angus Oblong modeled the show after his storybook: Creepy Susie and 13 Other Tragic Tales for Troubled Children. The show takes place in The Valley, a town teeming with toxic waste and pollution as a result of the neighboring community The Hills. Every member of The Oblong family has experienced some physical (and mental) deformities from the radiation exposure passed down to them. Partially allegorical and yet partially just a simple black comedy, all thirteen episodes hit the mark. I love the artwork- the sky is always a chemical color dense with smog and it’s stylized enough so that the gross stuff isn’t too gross.
Will Ferrell voices the armless/legless father, Bob Oblong. It almost makes it harder to watch knowing that because I keep picturing Buddy the Elf doing the voice-overs. (Mom, if you’re reading this, please know that even though you like Elf, you will not like this show.) Pickles, his wife, is voiced by the lovely and talented Emmy award winning Jean Smart, who you’ll remember as the sexy neighbor in The Brady Bunch movie… you know, the one who wanted Peter. Or possibly from Frasier, American Dad, 24, Garden State, or my personal favorite, Snow Day. Her character is a chain smoking alcoholic who is maybe a symbol for modern day parental apathy or maybe just a very funny character. (Jury’s out.)
My favorite member of the household however is Milo, the psychotic protagonist who is heavily medicated and socially awkward. Pamela Segall Adlon is his voice actor, and she’s phenomenal. What’s that? You didn’t know voice actors were something to be excited about? Allow me to tell you a little bit about this woman’s history. First of all… in the 80s, she voiced Ket from Kiki’s Deliver Service! Later on she had lots of different roles on Rugrats, then Pepper Ann, Bobby’s World, The Final Fantasy video games, and the Holy Grail… she’s the voice of King of the Hill’s Bobby– a role for which she received an Emmy in 2002 in the category of Outstanding Voice-Over performance.
While there’s nothing outright inappropriate about The Oblongs– It’s no Ren and Stimpy, there’s something a little sick about the show as a whole. Like when Bob is talking with his coworker about his upcoming marriage… “Who is she?” He asks, to which the man replies: “I don’t know, she hasn’t been delivered yet!” “Oh James… you can’t marry a baby”. Mail order bride jokes aside, this show is extremely witty and well written. Plus They Might be Giants does the opening credits.
Gather round, everyone, this last mini-paragraph is important! You must give them all more than one viewing! Every single episode I re-watch I realize that I missed something so funny that I immediately feel the need to post it online. Or write an article about it.