There’s no better time than now for adult animation. From Adult Swim to Hulu’s assortment of series, the genre has shown to attract consistent and loyal viewers. Last year, Syfy tried to get into the game with their TZGZ block of animated programming late at night anchored by fan favorite, Futurama. Their latest addition is the YouTube Premium original, Dallas & Robo. Since not too many people caught it during its original airing two years ago, Syfy is hoping to expose the space buddy comedy to a whole new audience.
The titular duo are space truckers lugging various cargo throughout the galaxy who happen to always find trouble along the way. Dallas is street smart, smart ass with attitude trying to raise enough money to purchase a stock car and get back to her original love of racing. Her best friend is Robo, a lumbering AI that serves as her muscle when the time call for it.
In the first episode, Dallas and Robo accidentally crash into a gang of cannibal bikers during one of their deliveries. As revenge, the bikers steal their shipment, which happens to be filled with drilling equipment that can be rigged into powerful weapons. It’s up to our heroes to save the day.
Visually, the animation shares a similar aesthetic to BoJack Horseman. That’s probably because they are from the same production studio, ShadowMachine. It definitely creates a fun wild west feel with lots of booze drinking, saloon brawls, and cursing. The accompanying soundtrack helps complement the space western motif.
One of the biggest draws of Dallas & Robo is the voice talent. The leads are played by Kat Dennings and John Cena who fit their roles perfectly. Dennings’ captures the playfulness, snark, and naughtiness of her character while Cena equally brings the levelheadedness and the smackdown. The pair play well off each other and you really feel the bond between Dallas and Robo.
Rounding out the main cast are Steven Root, Tim Blake Nelson, Milana Vayntrub, and Dana Snyder. They even bring in the star power for “Aces Wild” with guests that include Jane Lynch, Nat Faxon, and Clancy Brown. Lynch and Brown in particular stand out with the former as the leader of the biker gang and the latter as a mysterious stranger looking to collect a bounty on Robo.
Though there are a few good laughs, the writing overall could be improved. Sometimes, jokes that are meant to be risqué fall flat and the conflict isn’t that interesting. The cannibal biker villains, which on paper seem cool, are used more like generic goons. Plus, I feel they could have had better character designs than just making their faces look weird. The only intriguing development comes with the cliffhanger ending involving Brown’s character. It provides an opportunity to dive deeper into Robo’s character in future episodes.
Overall, the first episode of Dallas & Robo isn’t the attention-grabber you hope a series premiere would be. For “Aces Wild” the charisma and chemistry of the two leads and the talent of the rest of the cast do the heavy lifting carrying the episode while the writing takes a back seat. Dennings and Cena alone keep the show interesting enough but for how long?
Watch Dallas & Robo Saturday nights at midnight-ish on Syfy.
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