“Moonbeam City” is an absurdist, retro-futuristic 80s cop extravaganza. Comedy Central’s new animated series follows Dazzle Novak (voiced by Rob Lowe), a handsome, idiotic detective who commits more crimes than most criminals. His sexy, tyrannical chief Pizzaz Miller (Elizabeth Banks) won’t get off his back. His obnoxious rival Rad Cunningham (Will Forte) will stop at nothing to destroy him. Dazzle must team up with the city’s only competent police officer, Chrysalis Tate (Kate Mara), to protect their beloved, neon-soaked metropolis.
If Archer and Miami Vice had a baby, gave that baby nothing but hard drugs, had that baby live in a world designed by Patrick Nagel (who designed the iconic Duran Duran “Rio” album cover), and hired South Park to be the baby’s sitter, that baby would be named Moonbeam City.
Moonbeam City is a new half hour animated series on Comedy Central. It’s weird, really weird, but funny weird. Rob Lowe voices Dazzle Novak, our intrepid and totally self-absorbed hero who’s the top detective on the Moonbeam City police force. His tough police captain is Pizzazz Smith, voiced by Elizabeth Banks. His rookie partner is Chrysalis Tate, voiced by Kate Mara, and Rad Cunningham, voiced by Will Forte, is Dazzle’s nemesis on the force.
That last paragraph makes this show sound normal and possibly boring. It’s anything but. I haven’t made it through one show without saying, “This is so weird,” at least twice. But it’s a good weird, and besides, normal is overrated. Which is good because Moonbeam City isn’t a normal city – it’s a city in an alternate universe. One that’s never left the 80’s, where the media is all too eager to cover anything salacious with as much glitz and dazzle (see what I did there?) as possible, whose fire department shows up topless to the admiring screams of the populace, whose mayor (voiced by Powers Boothe) walks around with his pet snow leopards, and whose police force is at least as responsible for causing crime as solving it. Possibly more responsible. As Dazzle says in one episode, “I’m doing important things. I’m too busy to save lives.”
You don’t need to have watched this show from the start – there’s not a lot of continuity between episodes, and it doesn’t matter anyway. In addition to the aforementioned fire department and snow leopards, we’ve also had a bizarre man and sea mammal love that turned out to dare not speak its name, a beyond weird visit from Chrysalis’ father (voiced by Patrick Warburton), a bizarre serial killer, several competing true crime reenactments, and more drug kingpins than you can shake a gun at. Basically anything goes in Moonbeam City. Jump in anywhere and anytime – you’ll catch on without trying, which is part of the show’s charm.
This is a show that understands that style matters, and then ups the style past eleven in order to make sure that the visuals keep you engaged, even as you’re asking yourself what’s going on – for a few minutes until you give up and just go with it. Not that the stories are confusing – well, they’re confusing if you’re looking for typical cop show stories and linear storytelling. If you’re not – and you shouldn’t be if you tune into Moonbeam City – just sit back and enjoy the very wild ride.
Rob Lowe Serves as Producer and Voice Talent (Dazzle Novak) with Elizabeth Banks (Pizzaz Miller), Will Forte (Rad Cunningham) and Kate Mara (Chrysalis Tate)
Creator, Executive Producer: Scott Gairdner
Showrunner, Executive Producer: Tommy Blacha
Airs Wednesday nights, 10:30pm ET/PT, Comedy Central