Just finished watching Phoo Action, the hour-long pilot based off of Jamie “Gorillaz” Hewlett’s comic Get The Freebies.
I found out about this at the last second and got my hands on the episode from a friend. I wasn’t expecting much even though this boasts Carl Weathers at the police chief, a script co-written by Jessica Hynes from Spaced and Euros Lyn as the director but it turned out to be a lot better than expected.
WARNING: The following show requires an open mind.
Here’s how this works: You’ve got Terry Phoo, a mutant hunting specialist from Hong Kong’s JKD Police Division in the year 2012 (and one step to the left) who is sent to London after the Queen is murdered by The Freebies, a trio of mutants led by Johnny Freebie: a guy with a basketball for a head and a tracksuit. (Yes, it sounds crazy already. If you can’t cope at this point, you might want to turn back now.)
Amidst this is Whitey Action, daughter of the Police Chief, who has a bit of a party streak in her (along with her friend, the Lady Eleanor Rigsby) but, as Carl Weathers best put it, “she’s got a smart head and a smart mouth and the two can’t seem to match up”. During a botched attempt by the Freebies to kill the next heirs to the throne, she meets Phoo and the two of them have to hurry to save London from having their new King(s) from turning blue. Literally.
Let it be known that I’m kind of nuts so I’m open to a lot of things. I’m a fan of the Japanese SpidermanTV Series for crying out loud. Then again, after Spider-Man 3, who can blame me? I tend to gravitate to shows that may look bad in special effects, overdosing on on-screen insanity, and are just sweating camp but I still enjoy them. The pilot of Phoo Action is a lot like those kinds of shows but it has something a lot of them don’t: People who are in on the joke.
Honestly, had this taken itself seriously, I’m sure I’d be breaking my head through wooden boards without any formal training at all whatsoever because it would have been horrible. Phoo Action has all the feel of a comic book mixed with 1960/70’s martial arts and cop shows and it shows. While we’re going on about comic books, having never read Get the Freebies, I can’t say anything about loyalty to the source material but if any of the other reviews online are any indicator, it seems like they nailed it.
Visually, I have to give props to the art direction. The whole thing looks like it was lifted from the Get the Freebies comic with its vibrant colors that add to the on screen craziness and make this a pleasure to watch. Double props go to the SFX team. Suits with a mixture of CG on the eyes and animatronics bring the Freebie trio to life and make them all the more fun and slightly creepy. I can only imagine the layer of hell those are to move around.
The acting is solid all the way around. Like I said before, everybody’s in on the joke so they’re able to have fun with it. I mean, there’s no way you can play the concept of a pair of hot pants turning out to be Buddha’s Loincloth seriously.
Oh and Carl Weathers freaking rocked in this, and I hope he sticks around because he stole the show.
The only real gripe I have with this is the action. It came off looking like something from the 1960’s Batman series with a bit of modern Kung Fu Finesse on top for good measure. Personally, I really feel that faster and tighter action scenes could really compliment the show and get people watching but then again I’m the guy that liked Death Trance. Here’s hoping The Powers That Be see this too and make a move in that direction. Even if they don’t, it fits either way.
All in all, I’ve just gotten my first thing to look forward to in 2009.
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