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Saturday Morning All Star Hits! Review 2021 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew
In 2017, SNL star Kyle Mooney combined a pastiche of 1980s kids TV with heartfelt drama in the underrated film Brigsby Bear, directed by Mooney’s longtime collaborator Dave McCary. Mooney and McCary team up again for Netflix’s Saturday Morning All Star Hits!, a series that features impeccable recreations of classic TV with a bizarre and heartfelt storyline. Saturday Morning All Star Hits! isn’t as affecting as Brigsby Bear, but it’s still impressively crafted with Mooney’s signature commitment to off-putting jokes.
Each episode of Saturday Morning All Star Hits! is presented as if it’s an old VHS recording of a Saturday morning cartoon from the ’80s or ’90s. The episodes are shot in the 4:3 aspect ratio, complete with tracking lines and abrupt cuts — as if the unseen operator has paused the tape to skip (most) commercials. Occasionally, snippets of home video footage pop through, as if the show has been recorded over an old family videotape. Its structure is similar to 2019’s VHYes, which also built an overall story out of pieces of fake vintage TV and home movies.
Unlike VHYes, though, Saturday Morning All Star Hits! focuses its narrative on the TV broadcast. Mooney plays numerous parts over the course of the eight-episode season, primarily twins Skip and Treybor, hosts of the eponymous block of Saturday morning kids’ programming. With their long blond hair, acid-washed denim, and brightly colored T-shirts, Skip and Treybor look exactly like the kind of pandering “cool” TV personalities were tasked with selling kids on poorly made animated shows based on toy lines.
The animated series on Saturday Morning All Star Hits! are easily recognizable versions of popular past shows. Mooney’s co-creator Ben Jones — of animation powerhouse Bento Box Entertainment (Bob’s Burgers, Central Park, The Great North, etc.) — directs the animated segments, which are convincingly rudimentary. Early episodes feature installments of Randy, a riff on Denver, the Last Dinosaur about a prehistoric beast hanging out with teens and skateboarding; Create-a-Crittles, about Care Bears-style colorful bears who represent creativity; and The Strongimals, with action figure-ready fighters in the Masters of the Universe and Thundercats mold.
Later episodes cycle in different cartoons, as the characters from the earlier shows complete their unlikely narrative arcs. The tone is established right from the first installment of Randy, which follows the kid-friendly set-up of a rad skateboarding dinosaur, by immediately cutting to a heartwrenching scene of Randy breaking up with his girlfriend, a human firefighter. The juxtaposition of the bright, kid-oriented style and the dark adult material recalls Robert Smigel’s “TV Funhouse” cartoons on any number of Adult Swim series.
At first, Saturday Morning All Star Hits! seems like it’s just going to be a loose connection of amusing and one-note sketches. But by the second episode, it becomes clear that Mooney and the rest of the creative team — which includes McCary as director of the live-action segments — are building more of an intricate storyline. Not only do the cartoon characters have their own storylines but Skip and Treybor also get caught up in a developing saga, which interacts with the cartoons as well as with the commercials and the occasional other types of programming that pop up. It’s an expertly constructed puzzle, which sometimes sacrifices easy laughs for strange detours and dark plot twists.
Mooney plays a range of live-action characters and voices many of the animated characters as well, bringing along occasional celebrity guests to provide additional voices. Mooney and Jones recruited veteran voice actors like Frank Welker, Pamela Adlon, and Cree Summer to play most of the animated characters, making them sound exactly like the cartoons of the era that Saturday Morning All Star Hits! aims to evoke.
Viewers looking for goofy parodies of their favorite childhood TV may be put off by the family drama between Skip and Treybor. It’s still quite entertaining and unpredictable, though, and anyone who’s tuned into Mooney’s brand of comedic weirdness from SNL will find something to enjoy here. The dedication to verisimilitude is what makes Saturday Morning All Star Hits! work. The creators put so much attention into replicating an era that was intentionally cheap and ephemeral. The deadpan absurdity of its overwrought plots may not always succeed, but the satirical takedown of junk nostalgia is bitterly funny.
The eight-episode first season of Saturday Morning All Star Hits! is now streaming on Netflix.