The animated short is, when you think about it, a perfect fit for the fast establishing “web series format”. Telling a story in 5 minutes on film may at first appear a cheaper prospect than running a full length series, but in reality the organisational costs – transportation, equipment, food and wardrobe are largely unaffected. Unless you’re putting on a one man show, you’re still responsible for an entire crew and their wellbeing, and that’s expensive.
With animation however, there is a much more proportionate relationship between length and cost – original art assets such as new characters and locations are pricey, and performances are (generally) cheap. What this means is that a well developed script and competent voice cast can save you a lot of money.
With this in mind, we at ComedyTVisDead can’t help but wonder why there are so few stand out animated shows for us to cover – there are “networks” like Cartoon Hangover (host of the brilliant, Shorty Winning web series, Bravest Warriors) and Newgrounds (something of an immature cesspit that hasn’t been interesting or relevant since 2005) – but these networks don’t offer the breadth or scope of even the smaller channels out there dedicated to online viewing.
Chilltown TV is a one woman labour of love – starting life as a comic book written by Leesa Dean to poke fun at the kind of “hip hop heads” she knew and grew up with in NJ, the comic was well received enough that it was picked up by a TV network to be adapted to an animated series. During development, the deal fell through and no series was ever made. Creatively frustrated, but also broke, Dean looked to the internet and the burgeoning web series landscape, and decided to produce it alone. A process she started by teaching herself to animate…
Following the unpredictable lives of four unemployed hustlers, G, Plad, Marv and K Deuce, Chilltown seamlessly blends the mundane and the fantastical with the kind of skill that would make Mike Judge proud. Its rebelliously low key flash animation is haphazardly laid over backgrounds made of fuzzy, pixelated photographs and garish block colours – the show is by all means ugly, and yet in motion, it all comes together so incredibly well.
Each episode takes us on not so much an adventure, but a loosely threaded tour of the every day. G needs a job, so Plad introduces him to a guy. K Deuce is trying to get VIP tickets to the Blunt E after party, and Marv has a strict “no food in the car” policy. Everyday setups, inspired by every day life in NJ, and yet events never play out as they might seem. G has to navigate a job interview whilst taking care of a loudmouthed Pimp in a Box, K Deuce gets taken hostage by a dismembered penis, and Marv grows an extra head. It shouldn’t work, but it does; thanks largely to the quality of the voice acting.
Working for next to nothing thanks to some top notch persuasion by Dean, there’s a lot of comedy talent voicing Chilltown. Victor Cruz (Law & Order, Blue Bloods) Richie Bulldog (Richie Bulldog Certified) Dante Nero (Patrice O’Neal, Chappelle Show) and Wil Sylvince (Wayans Brothers, Chapelle Show, Patrice O’Neal) really bring their characters to life.
Running at roughly 8 minutes an episode, Chilltown’s laid back pacing recalls 90′s MTV standards such as Beavis and Butthead, whilst its slapdash animation and backgrounds bring Adult Swim to mind. If you’re a fan of either, and want something that can easily stand tall with the best of them, do yourself a huge favour and watch Chilltown today. The latest episode is dropping on the first of May, so catch yourself up.♦ End