(W/ ZERO SPOILERS)
ONE SEASON IN
M.O.D.O.K. (2021) Season 1 [Hulu]
Launching all ten episodes on Hulu, M.O.D.O.K. showcases the misadventures of the titular megalomaniacal supervillain as he struggles to maintain control of his evil organization and his demanding family. Created by Jason Blum (American Dad) and Patton Oswalt and partnering with the studio behind Robot Chicken, M.O.D.O.K. does contain some genuine comedy within its grating crude humor, but only in two of its ten episodes.
Let’s put it this way: M.O.D.O.K.’s strongest element is its stop-motion animation. There are a lot of details in every frame, alongside smartly modeled characters and scenery. M.O.D.O.K. in particular looks stunning. Though his limb movement is limited, the model for the character is designed to be expressive and uses the floating chair to help emphasize his emotions. Robot Chicken in general is good about animating body language, but the budget is obviously upped here with time to give little details the proper attention.
However, as fun as the animation and even the voice acting are, the writing feels like cheese grater to the brain outside of the seventh and eighth episodes, both of which successfully maintain a great pace of character-driven comedy. Outside of those episodes, it’s mostly generic adult humor and a very surprising amount of re-explained story beats. The show is obviously aimed at adults, but constantly spells out the situation for the audience as if its audience doesn’t have object permanence.
Another criticism I have with the show, though not entirely the goal of the show itself, is how it glosses over dramatic beats that could have been strong moments for both the characters and the audience. There are hints of it here and there with M.O.D.O.K.'s rollercoaster of a relationship with his family and coworkers, but they are quickly pushed aside for another gag that usually isn’t funny. Episode 8 is the only instance where the creators show they are sort of capable of actually having a dramatic moment, and the joke that alleviates the drama is actually really funny.
But is M.O.D.O.K. worth your time? As it stands, no. There are simply much better things to watch. Although, if the second season wants to lean in more into the drama and create strong character moments, this could be a show to keep an eye on. The animation is still pleasing to the eye and the voice work maintains watchability, but there’s no substance gluing it together or giving the audience any reason to follow these characters outside of low-hanging gags.
It’s no Gary the Stormtrooper, that’s for sure.