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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review: Level E

Facts:

Comedic short arcs in a Sci-Fi setting with shades of Men in Black and Twilight Zone. 13 Episodes. Aired in 2011. Available on Hulu.

Bottom Line:

An amusing time-waster. It does novelty and rapid dialogue very well and builds characters that are just are fun to watch without actually being interesting or deep. Later episodes transition into more situational humor, which it handles less well, approaching though never fully reaching dull. A few episode parts and one full episode attempts more serious drama without the crutch of comedy and shows off just how badly this show leans on said crutch. Since the best episodes are in the beginning, feel free to stop watching when it becomes dull (somewhere in the middle of the primary colors episodes). The Prince's arc does resolve, and resolves cleanly, but it is hard to get worked up about.


The Prince:

The thing that ties this loose collection of tales together is the Prince of Dogra. Like the Doctor, he is never given a name, and informally his name becomes Prince Moron. He plays the role of a trickster god from old myths, and does pretty well at capturing both the humor and the sadism of such a role. His dialogue is consistently clever and while he has very little depth it is still entertaining to spend a few hours with him. Due to his ceaseless antics, the entire rest of the world ends up playing straight man for him and because of this it is perhaps for the best that this show is only 13 episodes, lest he overstay his welcome.

Structure:

The main conceit of the show is that the Prince is one of numerous aliens living on Earth in secret (think Men in Black). Most of the plot and the comedic elements come from the small foreign quirks of the various aliens, typically Sci-Fi versions of ancient archetypes, like mermaids and Amazons. The Prince singles out two groups in particular for his japes, first a young baseball player  he gets involved in madness and then a group of elementary school children he turns into Power Rangers analogues. These three longer arcs are separated by one-offs

Music:

The background music was fairly background, but if the OP and ending weren't enough to get you going, check out more by the bluesy Pontiacs (skip to 1:02) and the lively metal ViViD.

Recommendations:

For something a bit more structured, try the long running Gintama on Crunchyroll. For even shorter (and much funnier) skit comedy, check out Daily Live of High School Boys.

Finally:

There really isn't a whole lot to say about Level E. It was moderately entertaining popcorn, exactly the sort of empty calories I was looking for coming off last week's string of serious shows. Level E aspires to little and reaches it adequately. If you have nothing else to be doing, why not try Level E? You can always put it down again when you are bored or find something more entertaining, safe in the knowledge that it doesn't get any better.

Purely from how much I enjoyed this show, I rate Level E 5/10, though those three opening episodes are a solid 7/10.

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