Mission Hill is the story of a really cool cartoon being on the wrong network at the wrong time. Had it been followed by The Simpsons on Fox, it would have faired much better. This funny cartoon series aired on the WB in 1999 and was yanked after 5 episodes. The remaining 7 Mission Hill shows that were produced aired on the Cartoon Network as part of Adult Swim. Considering some of the really lame cartoon series seen on Adult Swim, Mission Hill should definitely have been given a chance to find more of an audience.
Anybody who really gets The Simpsons will like this cartoon. This is no surprise as Mission Hill creators Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein also worked on The Simpsons before going off on their own. The same kind of irreverent small city humor is present here but at a more adult open-minded level.
Mission Hill features some very cool looking animation work that belies its simplistic look by more interesting design ideas than in most cartoons currently on TV. The writing and plotlines in the 13 episodes available here on this 2 DVD set is uneven but a majority of episodes are more than interesting and definitely funny. Mission Hill is the story of Andy French, a twenty-something who wants to be a cartoonist. He shares an apartment with Posey Tyler, a cute blonde, former college roommate Jim Kuback, and his nerdy little brother Kevin.
Andy and his friends live in the popular Mission Hill neighborhood of Cosmopolis where the rents are low and gentrification has not happened yet. Their neighbors are Gus and Wally, a gay couple, a Latino artist and his college professor wife. Gus, who very much walks and talks like Mike Hammer, runs the local diner. Wally is a strong echo of Flanders on The Simpsons.
One of the many cool things about Mission Hill is the colors. Each character is tied in to a primary color and many of the backgrounds use very fluorescent tones. A night scene in Mission Hill, and there are too few of them, is absolute eye candy design wise. As the extra feature on DVD 2 shows, a lot of care has also been taken with the backgrounds. The animators purposefully put a lot of gags and jokes in the background be it as store names, product placement, billboards, posters, etc.
Granted, Mission Hill is a little uneven. Episode 7, Kevin vs. the SAT (or Nocturnal Admission), and episode 6, Andy Gets A Promotion (or How To Get Head In Business Without Really Trying), are basic good first season episodes but definitely pale in comparison to other Mission Hill shows like Andy vs., The Real World (or The Big-Ass Viacom Lawsuit). Still, had the show been allowed to live, it definitely would have gotten a little more even. Hell, even The Simpsons have had dogs (and more of them each season).
Proof of that is the second DVD in the Mission Hill, The Complete Series set. The last five episodes are all strong and original. The two-parter about Andy losing his job at the waterbed store and going to work for computer wizard Jim Kuback's company is very funny. The main joke is how the slacker generation is joining the rat race. Kevin Finds Love features the voice of Jennifer Jason Leigh as Weirdie. Other episodes features a salute of sorts to X-rated movies like Midnight Cowboy and classic bad movies like Plan 9 From Outer Space and The Man From Pluto by Wally Langford.
The second DVD in Mission Hill, The Complete Series also features the very cool extra where you can surf around Mission Hill and find bits and pieces of information about the series and its in jokes.
Mission Hill, he Complete Series is a gem for any cartoon fan.
Pilot / The Douchebag Aspect
Andy Joins The PTA / Great Sexpectations
Kevin's Problem / Porno For Pyros
Andy VS, The Real World / The Big-Ass Viacom Lawsuit
Andy And Kevin Make A Friend / One Bang For Two Brothers
Andy Gets A Promotion / How To Get Head In Business Without Really Trying
Kevin VS. The SAT / Nocturnal Admissions
Unemployment Part 1 / Brother's Big Boner
Unemployment Part 2 / Theory Of The Leisure Ass
Kevin Finds Love / Hot For Weirdie
Stories Of Hope And Forgiveness / Day Of The Jackass
Happy Birthday, Kevin / Happy Birthday, Douchebag
Plan 9 From Mission Hill / I Married A Gay Man From Outer Space