8 September 2001 | The Extra In The Background
If only Scott Adams had chose Comedy Central...
Before the review, a brief plot summary: Dilbert is a skilled and somewhat slow-witted enguineer living in an insane world. Everyone is either a genious or a moron. He lives with Dilmom, who is more advanced in technology then he is, Ratbert, an optomist rodent who longs to be loved, and Dogbert, a cynical, arrogant canine with a dream of ruling the world. Every day is garbage day, and the garbage man is the world's smartest. At work, where the name constantly changes from Path-Way to E-Tech to Path-E-Tech (pathetic), he toils away in his cubicle under a clueless pointy-haired boss, accompanied by the rude and sarcastic Wally and quick-tempered and powerful Alice. Others include Catbert, the Evil Director of Human Resources, Asok, the mild-mannered Indian intern, and Loud Howard, the big mouth. With clever humour, the show tells zany stories about how Dilbert tackles stock market problems, corporate insanity, junkie dwarfs, and realligned satellites.
Scott Adams has been writing the "Dilbert" comic strip since 1989. He has since then added several colorful characters, and finally, with the help of Larry Miller, he brought it to the small screen. Unfortunatley, somehow it landed on one of the worst networks on TV: UPN. Not Comedy Central, not Fox Network, UPN. Adams and Miller provided it with it's only good series ever.
The animation is clever and looks exactly like it was lifted from the comic books, except now Dilbert has a mouth. Oh, but when any of the characters' mouths are closed, they vanish. ;-) It combined the humour of "The Simpsons" and "Futurama" with the hilarious insanity of "Monty Python". To me, this is better then either of Matt Groening's overrated series. Dilbert is not a beer-swilling overweight idiot. He is an ordinary person in a twisted world- something we can all relate to. Plus the jokes are funny. Throughout the entire episode the plot is strung with wit and charm.
Some of the jokes, in fact, aren't even funny. But it's just the way the characters say them that splits your sides. Daniel Stern (Marv in the first two "Home Alone" films) gives the title character a slightly nasal and questioning voice. Gordon Hunt (father of popular actress Helen Hunt) provides Wally with a thick nasal and sarcastic voice. Kathy Griffin ("Suddenly Susan") lends her voice to Alice, an angry, teeth-gritted voice. Chris Elliot ("Osmosis Jones") was originally to be thrown off the cast because his voice was so similair to Stern's, yet he does an awesome job at giving Dogbert an arrogant and calm demonaur. Maurice LaMarche (voice of another supersmart character, the Brain) and Jackie Hoffman (huh?) are also excellent at The Garbage Man and Dilmom. Tom Kenny (the mayor from "Powerpuff Girls") lends his voice to Ratbert and Asok, and Tress MacNeille is several supporting characters.
The guest appearances are great. Billy West, like Tress MacNeille, guests throughout, only as the same character, a marketing guy. Stephen Hawking plays himself in "The Informercial", in which the Gruntmaster 6000 (a product named, designed and manufactured throughout the first season) is tested in Texas and creates a black hole. Jason Alexander ("Bob Patterson") appears throughout as Catbert. Buck Henry suprises Dilbert fans as Dadbert, who has been at the "all-you-can-eat" cafe in a mall resteraunt since 1979, and Jeri Ryan cameos in that episode as a Seven of Nine Alarm Clock. Wayne Knight is a security guard. Gilbert Gottfried is a troll. Steve Austin, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld all guest, as well as several others.
Unfortunatley, UPN made yet another mistake. Instead of keeping their only good show, they moved it to a horrible time slot which soon got it cancelled. Some of the episode descriptions are hilarious. Dilbert fans will recognize the small, muddy country of Elbonia in "Elbonian Trip" and "Hunger". In another, the company is overrun by downsized (literally) employees hooked on dry erase markers. When he drinks from the boss' cup, Dilbert loses "the knack" and throws all the satellites out of orbit, throwing the world back into medevil times. And when Dilbert must prevent Y2K, he learns the company's fate is in Wally's hands (and Loud Howard cries, "THAT'S IT! WE'RE ALL FARMERS!")
Quotable, hilarious, and recommended. Adams, don't let it get to you. Just take the show to Comedy or Fox. Then it'll soar.