This show is being compared to Mystery Science Theatre, does it hold up?
The entire planet has been wiped clean by a massive apocalypse. There is one miraculous survivor in the form of a twelve-year-old boy named Andrew. Alone after losing his family, Andrew is suddenly visited by a few strange creatures. Each of them could be responsible for the doomsday that slaughtered the world, yet they find it in their hearts to spend some time with the lonely child. Plus, his parents left what seems to be an endless liquor cabinet, and a working TV, so that helps.
Bet-C is a strange cyborg who has the most sympathy for Andrew but has an issue with fritzing out and breaking down. Fleek is your cliché lizard alien but with a high sex drive, and he randomly chooses to change sexes for an episode. One of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, Kenneth, joins the fun but is haunted by his brothers. And, Giantic, who we don’t see any more than a massive foot from, manages to find love in the end times. Together they chill with Andrew and watch cartoons because none of them seems to have anything better to do. Plus booze.
This little show seemed to sneak up on us out of nowhere. Recently a new app launched called DrinkTV, which is a streaming service much like Netflix, but with alcohol-focused content like an excellent cooking channel. The app has been gaining some traction for releasing some great original content, and if you are a beer connoisseur, I would definitely recommend it. However, this week DrinkTV released this original animated series with a promise of being a lot like Mystery Science Theatre 3000. But, really we didn’t know what to expect from this strange looking show.
The series consists of six episodes each about eleven minutes long. The plot of each show is minimal and focuses on a different character. The majority of screen time is given to the television that they are watching, ala Beavis and Butthead. Though, unlike Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and Beavis and Butthead, Hell Den showcases cartoons from the early days of animation. The short clips of outdated cartoons are dubbed over with new voices, commentary, or there may even be some gore drawn into the scene at appropriate, or inappropriate times. In place of the characters adding their commentary, they seem more shocked by the ridiculous things that are happening on the screen.
These clips are absolutely the highlight of the show. To begin with, these cartoons from five to eight decades ago, they get pretty strange. I don’t know the last time you have watched the original Dumbo, but if you remember it the way I do, it is like a crazy acid trip. That’s what Hell Den is bringing us. Strange cartoons of dancing pots or fighting gnomes or drunk furniture, but with modern audio overlaid on-top to fill in the confusion. There is nothing in these clips that I had ever seen before in its original form, so it is also like watching these cartoons for the first time and having no context for what is actually happening. And, the creators adding the audio are experts at comedy. I’d say a good ninety percent of them are funny, with about a quarter of them making me laugh out loud. Those are good stats, I’m pulling them out of nothing, but they’re good stats, trust me. Actually, much better than Beavis and Butthead, who I always remember wishing they would get back to the plot.
As for the extremely strange characters, they are extremely strange. I don’t really know how I feel about any of them. Considering they only appear on the screen for a minute or two per episode and splitting time between five of them, you don’t get the time to get to know any of them. To be honest, I don’t think it would hurt for them to cut two or three of them out of the show entirely. Five creatures that have barely any dialogue is a bit too much. The plots would have been clearer if there wasn’t so much going on in minimal time. I mean, these characters aren’t even the ones doing the dialogue for the clips.
Those clips though. They really make this show worthwhile. If you love Mystery Science Theatre 3000, you are going to find satisfaction with Hell Den instantly. I don’t think anyone stands a chance of trying not to laugh while watching this show. It takes us to some strange and dark places and then turns things around into straight-up confusing. There is a lot to enjoy, and I would recommend savoring it instead of binging it the way I did so I could bring you this fantastic review. It’s hard to say if this one show is worth the full subscription to DrinkTV, it really depends on what other content you are looking for. However, the 60+ minutes of content Hell Den offers is worth the few dollars it’ll cost for a 1-month subscription.