Holy Crap, Remember…Mission Hill?

Ah, nostalgia! Be it that old cartoon, a favorite toy or a comic book from days gone by, isn’t it great, when out of the blue, the memories come flooding back, and you’ve no choice but to exclaim “Holy Crap! Remember?”

TV executives just can’t seem to get enough of sitcoms centered around a group of young twentysomething city dwellers. From Friends to How I Met Your Mother, the networks have subjected audiences to several programs in the past twenty years that have followed this formula, many of which failed to generate much interest and died quick deaths. In 1999, former Simpsons producers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein created Mission Hill, an animated version of this sitcom subgenre. It premiered on the WB Network and only lasted one season, but subsequent reruns on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim earned it a small but devoted cult following.

The main characters of Mission Hill were Andy French, a 24-year old waterbed salesman and aspiring cartoonist, and his 17-year old brother Kevin, who is sent to live with him when their parents move to Wyoming. Also living in their apartment is Jim, a hip and mellow computer programmer who has been Andy’s best friend since high school. As expected, Kevin’s nerdy suburban sensibilities and ambitious mindset frequently clashes with Andy’s slacker lifestyle, which leads to frequent arguments between the two siblings. Eventually, they grow to tolerate each other and try to make the best of their situation. In addition to Jim, Andy’s apartment building contains many memorable characters such as spacey environmentalist Posey, elderly gay couple Wally and Gus, and politically correct married artists Natalie and Carlos, who have not yet named their infant child because they cannot decide on a name that respects both of their distinct cultures. All 13 episodes of Mission Hill follow the exploits of the Frenches and their neighbors as they try to reconcile their own worldview with others in this bustling, multicultural urban setting.

Unlike most animated series like The Simpsons and Family Guy whose humor is mostly based on wacky situations and parody, Mission Hill was more down to Earth and character-driven. At times, it resembled a hipper, more urban version of Mike Judge’s King of the Hill in its style and presentation. The voice talent featured such familiar names such as Tom Kenney (a.k.a. Spongebob Squarepants), comedian Brian Posehn, and Vicki Lewis of Newsradio fame. Low ratings during its initial run led to its abrupt cancellation by the WB, and five of the originally planned eighteen episodes were never finished. Portions of these lost episodes can be found online, and the entire series was released on DVD by Warner Home Video in 2005. Everything about Mission Hill, from the subtle humor to the relateable characters to the catchy theme song by the band Cake, should have made this a hit, but alas it was not meant to be. Luckily the show found an audience, but by the time that happened, the creators and voice actors had moved on to other projects. Of course, based on how other long-running animated sitcoms have worn out their welcome, perhaps it’s best that the show ended when it did, because every existing episode is very entertaining and well worth checking out. The entire series gets 4.5 out of 5 Pairs of Day-Glo Short Shorts.

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Who ARE these people!?

Ben Gilbert is an avid comic and movie fan, father of two amazing kids, and husband to one awesome chick. He resides in the hills of East Tennessee and still doesn't quite know what he wants to be when he grows up.

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  1. chuck says:

    i remember watching that show i miss it

  2. Lee Rodriguez says:

    I LOVED this show, sir. Well played.

  3. Ska says:

    “Hey, when did we move the couch?” lol

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