Fox as a film studio and channel block has seen a lot of hits and misses. As an animation giant, it really struck gold with the likes of Batman: The Animated Series, The Flinstones, and especially The Simpsons. And, throughout the years, they’ve tried to recapture the animated magic that the 90s brought along.
It’s just unfortunate that a lot of them didn’t turn out great or gained enough traction to even long enough in people’s memories. The television world is a cruel, competitive beast, and it is even worse so for animators. Looking through Fox’s years of trials and tribulations, this list will be running down ten of their adult animation projects that you probably don’t remember.
10 Allen Gregory
During an age where Jonah Hill was pretty much just famous for cursing and insulting people in eloquent ways, Fox decided to give the rising star his own animated vehicle, allowing him to portray an iconic character that he was always destined to be: a snobby, spoiled child forced to be around the common folk. There were definitely some missteps here.
The family surrounding Allen Gregory was too eccentric to really connect with anyone and too exaggerated to really be commenting on anything. The better parts really were when Jonah Hill would take the mic, and, even then, that wouldn’t stop the weird writing from bogging everything down.
9 Napoleon Dynamite
Fox was really grasping for straws with this one. In an attempt that was either a ploy for nostalgia or a cheap cash-in on a beloved cult hit, Fox decided to dedicate an entire animated series to an eight-year-old film. As simple as the concept should’ve been, they somehow even muddled that up.
Napoleon Dynamite at its best was a barrage of references to the original movie. At its worst, it was just another Fox cartoon full of random jokes and sight gags that didn’t really befit the series. It essentially became a Family Guy cutaway gag with a Jon Heder coat of paint.
8 Sit Down, Shut Up
A series that loved to hold the title “From the same creators as Arrested Development,” Sit Down, Shut Up didn’t really hold the same kind of traction or consistency of the beloved Bluth family. While it was uniquely adorned over actual live-action backdrops, this was probably an attempt to save funding as not much of this series actually speaks considerable effort.
Parodying the ongoings of a public high school, this series would place its misfit group of teachers and administrators in a variety of non-nonsensical adventures that never really went anywhere substantial. How could this be? It’s from the same creators of Arrested Development and even featured Jason Bateman. Jason Bateman!
7 Son of Zorn
Here’s a real test for some people. One of the most recent entries on this list and one of the most visually and aesthetically distinct of any animated series, how could Son of Zorn ever be forgettable?
Perhaps a huge part of this was the fact that its live-action gimmick wasn’t really a fun evolution of Who Killed Roger Rabbit as much as it was an opportunity for Fox to put its poor sitcom writing alongside its poor animation writing. While having a He-Man-esque warrior be a suburban father figure does have its potential, it was at best just a comedy sketch drawn out for way too long.
While it is almost as fresh as Son of Zorn, Bordertown‘s writing certainly doesn’t feel that way. In an attempt to create humorous shock value from a variety of racist and political jokes, all carrying the same level of pacing and depth as a Far Side cartoon (not that this series was even half as good), Fox bore Bordertown, their heavily stereotyped and lazy dialogue about race and border relations. As culturally relevant as it could’ve been to new events within the U.S., all of its border jokes were also somehow a decade too old for anyone to care.
5 Golan the Insatiable
After Fox’s now-defunct Animation Domination High Def block (a.k.a. among the edgy, hip elite as ADHD), the studio greenlit a few of the block’s more consistent cartoons. One that would even be featured within the same time block as Family Guy and The Simpsons was Golan the Insatiable, an actually aesthetically and tonally unique series that was somehow watered down once it had a full rendition on Fox.
Beyond several changes being made between its ADHD and primetime incarnations, Golan the Insatiable just couldn’t break suburban boredom the way it wanted to, falling prey to more sitcom-style humor that just clashed with the whole warrior thing.
4 Axe Cop
For better or worse, Axe Cop was actually a unique and interesting series that would’ve probably seen greater success and a wider audience on the internet. It featured a cop with an ax, his giant t-rex, and even a guy with a flute fighting a variety of hilariously exaggerated villains.
However, this wild little series—which was written by an actual child—never really failed to entertain as a barrage of visual set-pieces and non-sequiturs would somehow mesh into an oddly coherent story if not at least a pretty fun one. Unfortunately, this series was too random and quickly paced for its own good as nothing was able to really stick with a mass audience.
3 High School USA!
Coming from the same experimental animation block as Golan and Axe Cop, High School USA! was an Archie parody brought into the crude modern day. It featured its classic-styled characters dealing with wide stereotypes of what high schoolers deal with today but even more strange.
This meant mysterious teenage pregnancies, constant sex between characters, weird commentary about smartphones, and an entire adoption storyline that was all over the place. Somehow being even less linear than the typical Fox animated series, this one didn’t really land with a lot of people.
2 Lucas Bros. Moving Co.
Capitalizing on the rising success of an alt-comedy duo, Lucas Bros. Moving Co. was an entire psychedelic trip filled with supernatural adventures, old pop culture references, and the irreverent deadpan and choke-filled laughter of its titular duo.
Given the actual stylistic animation and offbeat comedy of this series, it really seemed like Fox was trying to craft an Adult Swim block, with the Lucas Brothers leading the charge as their alt generals. The series even lasted a couple of seasons and a ton of fun episodes before disappearing in its entirety after 2015.
1 The PJs
Much like people are trying to do today, TV execs during the late 90s were trying to move away from Bill Cosby’s legacy and attempted to set up culturally distinct stories of its own. Thus came Eddie Murphy and his stop motion animated story of life within the projects.
This fun romp actually found some critical success, having won a few awards and lasted three seasons. However, not even that could maintain the series, as it would soon see cancellation in 2001 and cultural obscurity throughout the years.
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