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Draw your own conclusions from Showtime's Our Cartoon President


Just when you think you’ve seen more than enough. Showtime photo

Premiering: Sunday, Feb. 11th at 7 p.m. (central) on Showtime
Voiced by: Jeff Bergman, Cody Lindquist and many others
Produced by: Stephen Colbert, Chris Licht, R. J. Fried

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
We’re at the point where some critics are faulting Showtime’s Our Cartoon President for “humanizing” Donald Trump.

Yeah, because that would be a disgrace.

Trump already is omnipresent on cable news networks, late night talk shows, Saturday Night Live and in countless fever dreams. Comedy Central’s The President Show began lampooning him last April, with Anthony Atamanuik wearing a wig the size of an eagle’s nest. Another little-known comedian, Jeff Bergman, gets the call in Cartoon President, an extension of the recurring animated snippets on CBS’ Late Show with Stephen Colbert. (Other than Bergman and a few others, specific voice credits remain hard to come by.)

Colbert remains in charge for these 10 half-hour episodes, two of which were made available for review. In his opening remarks, Trump boasts that “everyone knows my brain has great bone structure.” Housed within is an IQ of “180 over 90,” he says with confidence.

Those are some pretty funny lines, and Our Cartoon President (double meaning fully intended) isn’t entirely short of them. Still, is anyone else out there feeling severely Trumped-out at this point? From a comedy writer’s perspective, though, he remains a fool’s gold mine of material, far surpassing George W. Bush’s misadventures with the English language.

George W., by the way, is the only other President to spawn a TV comedy series while still in office. Comedy Central’s live action That’s My Bush!, created by South Park’s Matt Stone and Trey Parker, ran for eight episodes in spring 2001. Timothy Bottoms starred, playing Bush as an amiable, well-meaning bumbler. The series supposedly was canceled for being too expensive.

The premiere episode of Cartoon President is topical in terms of incorporating Trump’s first State of the Union address as the principal “storyline.” The President is also taxed with giving First Lady Melania Trump (whom he calls “LaGuardia” at one point) a suitable wedding anniversary gift. It ends up being a one-on-one dinner date with Karen Pence, which further miffs Mrs. Trump (Cody Lindquist). “She told me her favorite designer is Cracker Barrel gift shop” among other things.

Don Jr. and Eric predictably are portrayed as sub-idiots, with Colbert saying in interviews that they’re “our Beavis and Butt-head.” Episode 2 is built around hapless Eric’s yearnings to be noticed. So when Dad authorizes Trump impersonators to stand in for him at boring events (such as visiting disaster sites), Eric is among the eager applicants. This doesn’t end well when the fake Trumps, including Eric, cause the President’s approval rating to “skyrocket” to 40 percent. “I miss the old Eric who never undermined me by being good at stuff,” he tells Eric -- who’s happy to hear this.

Cartoon President has a killer sight gag in its tortoise-like depiction of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And top advisor Stephen Miller works on the boss’s State of the Union speech as a shirtless, pierced masochist hanging from a hook. His first draft is titled “Blood Horizon.” Less effective is a constantly intruding Ted Cruz and his run-at-the-mouth gibberish.

In Episode 2, Cartoon President also twits MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who doles out her observations with a series of short bursts and affected pauses. Fox News Channel’s early morning Fox and Friends contrastingly is brimming with toadies, but Trump of course is the primary punching bag and lightweight throughout these first two episodes. In one segment, cartoon Trump admiringly watches video of real-life Trump and his “greatest hits” on the campaign trail. They include his infamous mocking of a disabled reporter.

Colbert and his nightly opening demolitions of Trump and company have vaulted his show past competitors Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel in the total viewer Nielsen ratings. Cartoon President piles on more of the same while at the same time risking over-saturation.

The sight of would-be Trumps in training -- mainlining a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken is among the exercises -- is hardly a belly laugh anymore. Nor is a family dinner of nothing but hot dogs while a disengaged President is fixated on an old Cowboys and Indians shoot ‘em up rather than any verbiage from his sons, Melania, Ivanka or Jared.

Cartoon President likely will find this going getting tougher as the show goes on. The first two episodes hit some comedic sweet spots, both visually and verbally. But if the government again shuts down over DACA, Colbert and his writers will be increasingly hard-pressed to find the funny. The idea of Trump meeting his first salad bar or trying to read a coloring book just might not cut it anymore.

GRADE: B-minus

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