China Illinois is a television show from Brad Neely that first aired on Cartoon Network during the late night block, Adult Swim. Originally, the pilot joined “Super Deluxe” in 2008 in a four-part special. By October 2011, the first season was finished and started airing on Cartoon Network. Each episode is 11 minutes in length and stretches what animated humor can get away with on television.
China IL is ridiculous, truly. The first episode is actually about Ronald Reagan traveling through time exact revenge upon Steve for doing terrible impersonations of him at a talent show. Even though this is the first episode of the season, it does a poor job of acting as an introduction to the show or the characters. This is a problem that will occur again in the final episode of the season.
Season one gives Baby Cakes show time but not enough. Baby Cakes can carry a story all by himself. For example, the episode “Dean vs The Mayor” follows the Dean around as he tries to find a new job after losing his position as Dean. During this transition, he gets a job at an oceanarium where Baby Cakes happens to work part-time. The Dean loses the job fairly quickly and as a result Baby Cakes loses his potential to continue working there as the episode goes on since the Dean leaves.
China IL does have an extraordinary cast of voices. Three of the biggest and most hilarious characters are actually voiced by Neely himself. Some of the other voice actors include Hulk Hogan, Jeffery Tambor and Hannibal Buress.
The final episode of the season, “The Dean’s List,” is essentially a scavenger hunt turned Hunger Games and even though it is comical in its own right, it feels as though it could be interchanged with any other episode in the season. The episode does nothing to actively conclude the season or lead into the next season.
Often times, an episode will start a joke nonchalantly and then go on with whatever else it is focused on. While the main plot proceeds the previously made joke will sneak its way back into whatever the current moment is. This joke-callback scenario happens often and is usually redone in subtle and hilarious ways. In the last episode Frank starts off with a lecture that includes a terrible explanation about the term ‘inch’ which he and others sneak into conversation for the rest of the episode.
At the risk of sounding offensive, China IL season one is as impressive as a ten-year-olds drawing of the worlds biggest food fight. It is interesting, funny, and somewhat accurate, but lacking of character development or proper exposition. It is however imaginative, brutal and quite a lot of fun to watch. Some episodes such as “Dream Reamer” expertly combine the social aspects of current society with the creative reality that Baby Cakes lives in. Ultimately, the biggest problem in season one is that the episodes are too short to fit in everything great that China IL can offer.
Opinion By Garrett Jutte
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