Canada has been enjoying its own version of Adult Swim for a couple of years now. Unfortunately, it has not meant that there has been an influx of homegrown content. Aside from one original series, Doomsday Brothers, there has only been one other Canadian animated series to premiere on the cable network exclusive Adult Swim Canada channel, The Bizarre Stories of Professor Zarbi.
Humorously enough, Professor Zarbi was not even created for the national network. Instead, the series is a Quebec original intended for distribution amongst the French-speaking province on Teletoon le Nuit. However, the English dubbed version has followed the original release quickly. Season two has wrapped up its English release after debuting in French just months ago.
Season one of The Bizarre Stories of Professor Zarbi is not the most exciting series available on Adult Swim. The mildly mature humour mixed with cliché themes made the show a middle-of-the-pack series lost amongst the plethora of original animated sitcoms currently available. Truthfully, there was not much reason to invest time into watching, aside from some impressively detailed artwork.
Arguably, Professor Zarbi represents what is wrong with Canadian entertainment content. The show’s lacklustre attempt at mature themes fails to shock audiences that have seen it all. Perhaps two decades too late jokes about poop no longer impress. Equally, the anthological approach to telling scary stories about monsters and aliens has been done to death. And, the new series struggled to add anything original.
The follow-up season surprisingly rectified a couple of issues with the series.
Most prominent would be the expansion of the two starring characters. When Professor Zarbi started, it threw audiences into a world of occult magic and mystery but never stopped once to introduce its characters Zarbi and Benjamin. Thankfully, season two gave the players much more depth by introducing more of their family, revealing that they are next-door neighbours, and testing their relationship. It was a much-needed inclusion, considering fans had no idea why this old man and preteen continued spending such an ample amount of time together.
More excitingly, season two of Professor Zarbi brought back its first reoccurring characters. After a season one filled with original villains and allies in each episode, it was relieving to see some familiar faces arrive in the later season.
Not only did Zarbi begin bringing back old friends, but this season also marked the first time the series had a multi-episode plot. The series’ first three-episode story includes the professor and Benjamin meeting an alien, helping him get off-world, and subsequently getting stuck at an alien airport. The expanded storytelling was good enough but also opened the doors for the series to expand further than its self-imposed limitations.
As for the rest of the season, Professor Zarbi delivered a mixed bag. Some of the new episodes were as tame and unoriginal as had been seen in the first season. Meanwhile, some stand-out pieces elevated the franchise. Specifically, an episode about pandora’s box that included references to The Ghostbusters and zombies.
Season two successfully helped the show become better in multiple departments. Unfortunately, the series still fails to be top-tier entertainment. The biggest struggle with Professor Zarbi is that it is a childish series aimed at adult audiences. With a bit of censorship on some particular language, the series would be successful for a youthful crowd. Regardless, it would still be nice to see how this series can progress further, given another season to play around with.’