Archive for Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cartoon a bit brutish, but funny

October 30, 2011

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The new cartoon comedy “Allen Gregory” (7:30 p.m., Fox) borders on original. And odd. And audacious, subversive, peculiar and funny. And not a little nasty.

Voiced by actor Jonah Hill, who also serves as creator and executive producer, Allen Gregory is a ridiculously pretentious 7-year-old raised by a pompous, clueless and cruel gay man named Richard De Longpre (French Stewart), the scion of a fabulously wealthy family that appears to have fallen on hard times.

Richard dotes on Allen while treating everyone else, including his husband, Jeremy (Nat Faxon), with contempt. He reserves a particular dismissive disdain for Julie (Joy Osmanski), Allen’s adopted Cambodian sister.

Allen’s world changes when he’s forced to attend a public elementary school, where his adult ways, foppish tastes, love of “Charlie Rose” and penchant for drinking pinot grigio with lunch run into the realities of the grammar school corridor. He develops a fiendish crush on his elderly obese principal, Mrs. Gottlieb (Renee Taylor), whose protestations are squelched by an administration desperate not to displease Allen’s wealthy family.

Central to Allen’s character is his complete inability to listen, or to acknowledge anybody else’s point of view. In this, he completely resembles his father. It’s not certain if “Allen Gregory” will survive, but I suggest that the show will be remembered for its savage and timely satire of our contemporary fixation on the ultra-wealthy and the obsequious and desperate ways that some (on television and off) pander to their every whim.

It’s also a wicked and often discomforting show that dares to send up the politically charged (and politically correct) idea of gay marriage and mean enough to depict the adoption of a foreign child as a kind of shopping trip for a soon-forgotten accessory. To the De Longpres, other people are either impediments or possessions. That’s a powerful idea, not necessarily funny to all.

Things would go down smoother if there were at least one strong “normal” character for viewers to follow. (Think Jason Bateman on “Arrested Development.”) Absent that, I think the reign of “Allen Gregory” is going to be nasty, brutish and short.

• Director Eli Roth asks “How Evil Are You?” (8 p.m., Discovery) and re-creates infamous experiments that prove how far we will go to inflict pain on strangers.

• Kari Byron (“MythBusters”) hosts “Large, Dangerous Rocket Ships 2011” (9 p.m., Science).

Tonight’s other highlights

• Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): a conversation with Bernie Madoff’s children; a profile of an NFL player and cancer survivor.

• The Eagles host the Cowboys on “Sunday Night Football” (7 p.m., NBC).

• Trapped in a canyon with few appetizing options on the annual “Treehouse of Horror” edition of “The Simpsons” (7 p.m., Fox). Look for Flanders as “Dexter” in the show’s best spoof.

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