Based on an Eisner Award winning comic by Evan Dorkin (Milk and Cheese, Beasts of Burden) and directed by Chuck Sheetz (The Simpsons, Duncanville), the pilot for Welcome To Eltingville was made back in 2001 for Adult Swim and yet despite being well received it wasn’t given a full series, and a lot of people have complained about this over the years. For once I’m not one of them though, as for my money it really hasn’t aged well, and I doubt I’d have liked it even when it originally was shown.
A send up of fan culture that’s supposed to be affectionate but rarely is, it follows Josh, Bill, Pete and Jerry who make up The Eltingville Club, which is for all fans of horror, science fiction, fantasy games and comics. They’re four teenagers who are geeks and then some, with the show littered with references to every cult series you can imagine and probably a fair few you’ve tried to forget over the years, but though there’s lots of mentions of obscure sci-fi and fantasy, most of the jokes concern popular, well known affairs, and so really aren’t anything original or amusing.
This is exemplified by an opening sequence which is a send up of role playing games which mocks every well known trope that you associate with such games, while Bill at one point has a long dream sequence where he imagines he’s the captain of the Enterprise but with a crew only made of hot ensigns, including Ensign Buffy and Ensign Wonder Woman, and which then lands on a planet made up of giant zits. I wish I could say it was an inventive and smart satire of the show but the opposite is the case and it’s beyond lazy, relying on either gross out humour or sex for laughs which it doesn’t come close to getting.
Most of the time Josh and Bill fight either verbally or physically, with the show containing a lot of really quite unpleasant fat gags that weren’t funny to begin with and become actively hateful after a while, and it becomes even meaner as events spiral out of control when the local comic book store gets in an original 12″ Kenner Boba Fett figure that both desperately want, and so engage in a “Trivia Off” where for three and a half minutes the duo ask each other questions. There’s some vaguely amusing visuals accompanying it at times but most of the time it’s a chore to sit through, while the ending is predictably weak.
It’s not just the main four leads who are unlikeable, nearly everyone in the episode is portrayed as either cruel or pathetic, in the comic book store alone there’s lots of clichés of the various customers who are either spitting everywhere when talking, moaning about how someone made the old Frankenstein / Frankenstein’s monster mistake, or obsessing over something trivial, while the owner is a greedy sod who reads “Anal Compulsive Weekly” because this is tiresome stuff indeed.
There’s a couple of jokes which raise the odd smile, but only a couple, and the rest of the time this is a surprisingly mean spirited affair that seems to think that bland violence and tedious sexism is funny when it really isn’t. I’ve a soft spot for many an Adult Swim show, and the majority of pilots that I’ve covered in One and Done made by the channel have deserved at least one short run to see if there was mileage in the concept, but this is ugly stuff, and even if it had been given a full series I wouldn’t be interested in watching another episode of it.
You can watch the pilot on youtube here.