Review: Alien News Desk “A Very Norffy Gronksmas”

A probing inquiry.

Overview (Spoilers Below!) 

One of today’s top news stories features the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, which has just inducted some new members. Tuva discusses California’s astronomical decline in monarch butterfly population while Drexx rails against the classism inherent in this species’ name.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama has gone missing after the 2016 election. In order to determine his whereabouts, Drexx kidnaps an American citizen and probes him for answers (also, fills him with anal probes). When the guy can’t produce a satisfactory answer—and Drexx deems his Obama imitation offensive—Drexx kills him and gives up on the project.

Tuva questions the idea that some pictures and words are considered obscene in Earth culture. She’s been listening to space jazz records and tries out some of the slang for herself.

Tuva rails against hipster artisans, who are trying to steal jobs from hardworking American robots. She and Drexx warn us against one of modern life’s most horrific monsters—the insidious Spoiler, who can only be defeated by the heroic Spoiler Alert. On the International Day for Monuments and Statues, Tuva celebrates Lady Liberty, a statue of America’s first female arsonist.

Drexx is furious that Drake is so popular when plenty of other Canadian soap opera stars go unnoticed. Tuva refuses to comment on Drexx’s homemade hip-hop tapes. When he bursts into a beat on-set, she’s forced to admit that he’s terrible.

An ad for Krislar’s Distress Signal Depot advertises used spaceships, on sale after their whole crews died in horrific accidents. Tuva and Drexx exasperatedly announce that many stars have legally changed their names after humans have paid to rename them.

Our Take

I’ve said this about a few episodes now, but while I laughed a bunch of the throwaway lines in “A Very Norffy Gronksmas,” the premise has begun to just feel repetitive. Nothing really changes up the format or takes any risks, and Drexx and Tuva continue to be one-note characters whose inner lives are only revealed as part of jokes. Some of the brief one-line stories are pretty funny, but the longer segments just feel drawn-out at this point.

Also, a major theme on this show just seems to be making fun of people for being bad at things or generally losers, which isn’t particularly original or insightful. In one of the episode’s first headlines, Drexx announces, “Bike share programs help cities pinpoint exactly who in town is a dorky weiner,” so the joke is just… bikes are bad, I guess? The monarch butterfly sequence is just Tuva trying to cut in over and over and tell Drexx that he’s wrong; the jazz joke is just us cringing at Tuva using bad slang.

Other goofs simply went over my head, as I imagine they did for several viewers. Drexx’s joke about how you can get into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame if you have the absolute worst or best music for strip clubs is completely incomprehensible to me as someone who’s not very familiar with any of the bands he was talking about. The Barack Obama segment goes a little off-the-rails—I’m not sure who Richard Branson is, and the repeated body horror of the increasing probes up the man’s ass is so uncomfortable that it ceases to be amusing. Plus, I really don’t get why Drexx declares his captive’s Barack Obama impression racist, considering… it’s pretty clear the prisoner is black himself. This show just isn’t nuanced enough to carry off whatever racial commentary they’re trying to make. Other jokes rely entirely on fart humor for their success.

And yet other lines are genuinely clever. Tuva laments that libraries are a chronically failing industry—they can’t make any money because people return 100% of their products. And there’s some good silly fun that, while it’s not particularly original, will still elicit a chuckle from a casual viewer. Drexx congratulates the artists who didn’t make it into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame “for avoiding a trip to Cleveland.” The line “God forbid there be equality among crabs” is great even out of context, as is Tuva’s horrified exclamation at a pack of emus, “WHAT ON EARTH HAPPENED TO THESE GIRAFFES?!” The idea that robots now write procedural crime dramas is hilarious, as is the clever reinvention of the word “artisanal” into a slogan in favor of robots in the arts: art is anal. I chuckled at the young men who carry signs to rallies to remind their elderly leader—Bernie Sanders—of his name. Tuva’s celebration of the first female arsonist, who created “the opportunity for anyone—no matter their gender—to burn down their house for insurance money”? Inspired.

But Drexx’s consistent pro-suicide attitude is in bad taste, and the Spoiler’s voice is obnoxious. Drexx’s bad rapping is way too obvious, and the Canadian soap opera joke goes way over my head as well. Unless this show raises the bar pretty soon, it may end up looking a lot like one of Krislar’s discount spaceships.

 

Bodie Shanis

Bodie is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. You can often find him in odd costumes, either because he's at an anime convention or performing in a musical. He's currently working on his first novel.

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