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WELCOME TO ELTINGVILLE!! Tonight On Cartoon Network!! Like A Big Twisted Funhouse Mirror Of Geekdom!!

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

This one stings. There's no way around it. You can sit and pretend that you don't recognize yourself onscreen in any way, shape, form, or fashion, but the truth is... if you understand anything you see during WELCOME TO ELTINGVILLE (airing at 11:00 PM EST/PST), the newest Cartoon Network addition to their Sunday night Adult Swim lineup, then some of this is going to sting.

A couple of friends of mine wrote and starred in a pilot for Comedy Central a few years back called SUPERNERDS which I reviewed here. In a lot of ways, WELCOME TO ELTINGVILLE is the same sort of show. Evan Dorkin, who you may know from his television work on shows like BATMAN BEYOND and SPACE GHOST: COAST TO COAST or from his underground cult comic hit MILK & CHEESE, has the edge over that earlier show because he chose to do this animated. This allows for an aggressive, surreal visual style that automatically distinguishes the show and that pays off the humor on not just the verbal, but the visual level.

This is important, because Cartoon Network continues to prove itself a home to many different definitions of what a "cartoon" is, and that diversity keeps their line-up interesting. They show anime. They show crudely animated but hysterically written shows like AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE and SPACE GHOST. They show elegantly animated modern fare like SAMURAI JACK and JUSTICE LEAGUE. And then there's the reruns. Tons of reruns, many of them available nowhere else. I love the fact that they experiment with their programming, and that they've got such a strong visual identity as a network that even their interstitials are interesting and innovative.

WELCOME TO ELTINGVILLE is about the four members of The Eltingville Club (the subject of the enormously winning closing-credits theme song by the Aquabats): Josh Levy, the foul-tempered Secretary of Science Fiction; Jerry Stokes, Secretary of Fantasy Gaming, who manages to drop his "bidi-bidi-bidi" Twiki routine long enough to DM campaigns for the rest of the Club; Pete DiNunzio, Secretary Of Horror; and Bill Dickey, who is both Secretary of Comic Books and the President of The Eltingville Club. It's his basement where they hold their meetings, much to the constant furious annoyance of his mother.

These four guys don't discuss their interests. They don't calmly debate the merits or faults of the films and television shows and comic books they love. They don't share ideas with one another. They brawl. They beat the shit out of each other. They engage in full-blown meltdowns over the slightest bit of trivia. They are the worst part of every geek, unleashed and amplified...

... and they're pretty damn funny.

The thing's only a half-hour long, so I don't want to go into too much detail. I'd worry about ruining it for you. The episode revolves around a "trivia-off" that Josh and Bill engage in to determine which of them is awarded the honor of paying $300 for a Boba Fett 12" figure, mint in box. The centerpiece of the show is the trivia-off itself, and here's where I have to commend Evan Dorkin for something that seems simple, but which so many people have gotten wrong in the past.

All of his trivia is right.

In fact, all of the details of this thing are right. So often, when someone decides to show a geek or geek culture as a joke, they get the details wrong, and as any good geek can tell you, the details are what it's all about.

Can this stand up as a weekly series? Well, considering the kind of schedule that Cartoon Network airs their programming on (my one complaint about their shows is a greedy one; I want more episodes of the things I love), it's not like we'd be looking at an initial order of 400 episodes. Here's hoping Comedy Central calls at least 13 or so meetings of this particular club to order in the future. This one episode ends with the cliffhanger query, "IS THIS THE END OF THE ELTINGVILLE CLUB?!"

I certainly hope not.

"Moriarty" out.

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