DAVID BIANCULLI

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JONATHAN STORM

 
 
 
 
 
OUR CARTOON PRESIDENT
February 11, 2018  | By David Bianculli

Showtime, 8:00 p.m. ET

 
SERIES PREMIERE: When Donald Trump announced his intention to run as a presidential candidate in June 2015, Stephen Colbert was on hiatus, having concluded his Colbert Report at the end of the previous year, and three months away from the premiere of his Late Show on CBS. He said then that he regretted the timing, and was worried that the entire Trump candidacy would come and go before Colbert had a platform on which to have fun with it. The rest, of course, is history. Colbert not only has lampooned Trump ever since, but during Trump’s first year in office, even inaugurated an occasional cartoon short making fun of the President and his First Family. Now Showtime has taken that animated idea and turned it into a half-hour cartoon sitcom, the first two episodes of which premiere tonight. Jeff Bergman provides the voice of Trump, and there are caricatures of his cabinet and other politicians, as well as members of the TV medium. But as it starts out, Our Cartoon President is not laugh-out-loud funny. Even with Colbert as one of its creators and writers, the humor seems oddly muted. It’s fun to watch scenes in which Trump shares screen time with, say, First Lady Melania Trump, who seems to have more lines here than she does in real life, and with such cleverly caricatures politicians as Mitch McConnell. But the sharpest humor is aimed at the media, with Fox News’ Fox & Friends targeted in the first episode, and MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show in the second. When the focus shifts to the White House, the humor can’t seem to be current enough, much less outrageous enough. The premiere is about the buildup to Trump’s first State of the Union speech, where, in real life, the President out-absurded Our Cartoon President by accusing unenthusiastic Democratic audience members of treason for lack of applause. And in the first two episodes, nothing is as memorable, or arguably as caustic, as inserted actual footage from the real Trump’s campaign. This cartoon show is worth sampling, but it’s yet to find its footing. The biggest laughs come at the very end, when Our Cartoon President plays its theme song (the lyrics of which, almost in their entirety, are an almost mockingly repetitive “Donald Trump is the President”), and when the closing credits note that the program is a production of CBS Broadcasting Inc., and that it “participated in the New York State Governor’s Office of Motion Picture & Television Development’s Post Production Credit Program.” Which means that, in producing this program, Colbert and company benefited from a state tax rebate. Our government dollars at work… For a full review, see Ed Bark's Uncle Barky's Bytes.
 
 
 
 
 
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