No fuse for Dynamite

Sebastian De Castro, Staff Writer

According to Entertainment Weekly, a staggering 9.5 million viewers watched the premiere of the animated TV show Napoleon Dynamite on Jan. 15. The second episode experienced a rather significant drop in views.

The show can best be compared to King of the Hill since the animation and humor is similar. Fans of the Napolean Dynamite movie are more likely to understand the jokes that appear in the series than first time watchers.

Set in Preston, Idaho, Napoleon Dynamite suffers acne problems after having a piece of chicken thrown at his forehead. He decides to use an FDA-banned drug called rackutane, but the drug comes with side effects such as body odor and moments of extreme rage. These moments of rage make him eligible to compete in an underground fight club. Meanwhile, his older brother Kip tries to impress a girl he met online with his fake abs. After the girl sees Napoleon’s strength from his rages, she falls for him, leaving Kip to take the rackutane and use it against Napoleon during the ultimate Thundercone fight.

Unlike the movie, the show features exaggerated fictional situations like bench-pressing a llama and knocking down teenagers as if they were bowling pins. In fact, the show is completely different from the movie. The same characters appear but there are hardly any ties to them and the film’s characters.

Today’s dominating animated shows, like Family Guy, use a different kind of crude and modern humor. It feels up to date with society’s standards. On the other hand, Napoleon Dynamite’s humor is a rewashed version of King of the Hill. In other words, Napoleon Dynamite is full of dry, overdone absurdity. This show might have satisfied an earlier generation. When comparing the ratings between Family Guy and Napoleon Dynamite, both shows would are on opposite sides of the spectrum.

These characters are very two-dimensional, so it is difficult to have any sort of emotional response to the show. For example, when Napoleon steals his older brother’s girl, Kip gets angry and plots for revenge. Feeling sympathy for him is difficult. The show just does little to actually connect the audience to an emotional level. They are static characters and show little to no emotion.

Compared to today’s shows on television, Napoleon Dynamite falls short of the finish line. Its lackluster script and character development weigh it down, and while animated giants like Family Guy and The Simpsons stay on top of the charts, Napoleon Dynamite lingers closer to its cancellation date.