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Saturday, July 30, 2011

NTSF:SD:SUV brilliant parody

     Cartoon Network's Adult Swim has now done for cop shows with NTSF:SD:SUV what Childrens' Hospital, on the same network, does for hospital series. Namely, embrace every cliché and give them new, interesting, hilarious twists. NTSF:SD:SUV stands for National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle, but that isn't really important. It's much funnier just to toss in a bunch of letters, poking fun at the numerous procedurals currently on the air. The series is based on a commercial that aired during Childrens' Hospital last year, and while several actors from that short are in the series, a number of changes have been made, including who wears an eye patch. Continuity for NTSF:SD:SUV, like it's sister show, Childrens' Hospital, is ignored, but viewers will likely not care because they will laugh so hard.

     In this week's episode, the series's second, "The Birthday Party That Was Neither," a former member of the team named Chip (John Cho, FlashForward, Star Trek) blackmails four of them for one million dollars each. He is bitter because they left him behind after ninjas cut off his thumbs. When his old friends show up with the money, each gotten in immoral, illegal ways, Chip plans on blowing them up, and somehow donating the money to the park service. That's because his bomb will take out an area of parkland. Though, as one character points out, how will the money survive the explosion? The situation is resolved happily, but then boss Kove (Kate Mulgrew, Star Trek: Voyager) shows up and takes out Chip, still ending happily for everyone else.

     The main characters have all proven their comedy chops long before NTSF:SD:SUV in other projects. Series creator Paul Scheer (The League) stars, and is joined by Brandon Johnson (Funny or Die Presents...), June Diane Raphael (Bride Wars), Martin Starr (Party Down), and Rebecca Romijin (Ugly Betty). A number of guest and  recurring characters are also big names in comedy, including Rob Riggle (The Daily Show), Ed Helms (The Office, The Hangover) and Keri Kinney (Reno 9-1-1!). Mulgrew may be the most surprising member of the cast, as she is known for dramatic roles. However, in "The Birthday Party That Was Neither," she proves herself worthy, getting frustrated at the "birthday party" her employees are secretly being invited to without her. All the performers sell the parts with total commitment.

     The enthusiasm and gusto of the actors is really what makes NTSF:SD:SUV work so well. Like Childrens' Hospital, the stories are secondary, and watching the work of masters is the main draw. In this, they succeed with flying colors. This is one comedy show that you will not want to miss.

     Catch NTSF:SD:SUV Thursdays (technically Fridays) at 12:15 a.m. EST on Cartoon Network.

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