The Drinky Crow Show by Tony Millionaire and Eric Kaplan

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The Drinky Crow Show
By Tony Millionaire and Eric Kaplan
Airing on Adult Swim May 13

drinkycrowshow-copy.jpgOne of my first exposures to Tony Millionaire’s work was via those late 90s Flash animation shorts, shoved between SNL sketches, featuring Andy Richter as Drinky Crow, using a voice not too dissimilar from his standard speech. Six shorts were created, and all are available here. Only one or two actually made it to the air, and it’s not difficult to see why.

While we’ve come to embrace Millionaire’s very specific sensibilities, an animated short, revolving around a crow counting acorns for a squirrel, consuming large quantities of whisky, and ultimately shooting himself in the head, has no place between sketches featuring Chris Katan as a Spice Girl, and Kenneth Star selling Gap jeans. You can almost see the horrified looks on the faces of the studio audience, alongside the handful of Maakies fans who happened to be tuned in, initially excited, and ultimately as terrified as their studio audience counterparts, wondering if this were the beginning of the end for their beloved strip.


It’s taken nearly a decade, but Tony Millionaire’s strip may have finally found an appropriate home. For viewers who tune in every week to watch a milkshake abuse a meatball, the suicidal antics of an inebriated crow don’t seem altogether too bizarre, and while the Maakies shorts may have been afforded certain liberties, given the late night hour in which they were originally aired, it’s fairly clear after watching the 11 and a half minute pilot episode that Millionaire and co-writer, Eric Kaplan (he of Futurama fame) are willing to push the show’s limits as far Adult Swim will allow. Drinky Crow violently offs himself several times in the first post-credit minutes (opening theme, happily performed by They Might Be Giants playing The Decemberists), and the subject matter, thankfully, takes a decided downturn from there.

Like Richter before him, Billy West’s take on Crow is fairly subtle—in fact, for a lead, the titular character doesn’t really do that much talking over the course of the episode. Crow’s foil, Uncle Gabby, voiced by Office Space’s Dave Herman, on the other hand, is every bit as over-the-top we all been anticipating, after years spent reading the strip—in fact, on first viewing, I found myself missing the top-hatted monkey’s dialogue. Given a bit more time with their characters, both will hopefully find a bit more of a happy medium.

The plot is a pretty standard Maakies nautical adventure, involving mermaids, killer whales, and a brigade of evil French alligators (the leader of which is voiced by Mr. Show’s Tom Kenny). The show’s creators jammed a lot into their allotted time—it’ll be interesting to where the writers take it, should they be given subsequent episodes in which to explore the characters—a constant weekly battle between the leads and the alligators may prove a touch too Looney Tunes-esque to give the show’s writers ample fodder with which to create new material. We will almost certainly see further plotlines surrounding the relationship between Uncle Gabby and the Captain’s Daughter, and that between Drinky Crow and Phoebe Bird, used strictly as fodder for Drinky Crow’s suicidal antics in the pilot, abandoned seen after the opening.

The real star of the show is the animation itself. A far cry from those overly-simplistic, out-of-sync Flash shorts, The Drinky Crow Show features a far more sophisticated CGI style, which the animators take advantage of, at every opportunity, from the waves, to full 360-degree rotations around the ship. The style compliments Millionaire’s own, surprisingly well, though at times, in the wake of heavy action scenes, I felt myself momentarily longing for that old simple Flash style—the feeling was, thankfully, fleeting.

Despite its faults—and surely plenty can be expected, with any animated pilot—The Drinky Crow Show manages to shove a lot of comedy into in a sub-12 minute package. From the severe physical abuse that Uncle Gabby sustains throughout the episode to a stomach-churningly hilarious climactic love scene between the fly and an beetle who star in the episode’s subplot (sort of the cartoon version of the Maakies bonus strip), there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Given half a chance, The Drinky Crow Show will likely settle in nicely with its Adult Swim neighbors.

–Brian Heater

No Comments to “The Drinky Crow Show by Tony Millionaire and Eric Kaplan”

  1. Alex | May 7th, 2007 at 10:30 am

    When can we expect to see this show? I didn’t see a time/date for it (unless I skipped over it accidentally).

  2. bheater | May 7th, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    At the top–Premiering May 13th! Get psyched.

  3. Tony Millionaire | May 7th, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    Adult Swim is showing previews now and you will be able to vote on Friday.

    http://www.adultswim.com/shows/pilotweek/

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