What It's Like Being Alone is a fiendishly funny and frightful stop-motion animation series about freak orphans who are desperately trying to get adopted. Sprung from the whacky wit of Brad Peyton (creator of the multi-award-winning Evelyn: The Cutest Evil Dead Girl), the 13-part series debuts on CBC Television, Wednesday, June 21 at 9:30 p.m.
What It's Like Being Alone combines its Simpsons snarky style / meets The Munsters lovable goofiness / meets South Park's irreverence with a high-concept visual style.
The series uses stop-motion animated figurines, miniatures, CG (computer graphics) animation, and a number of low-tech animation styles to create a gamut of emotions and states that range from dark to daffy, and downhearted to droll, in a retro world of over-the-top adventures.
Episode #1: The Gurney Orphanage for Beginners
Princess Lucy (Dwayne Hill) literally drops from the sky in the first episode, finding herself on the doorstep of the isolated The Gurney Orphanage. She sees herself as a beautiful princess, but she's really just a lump of grey matter poured into a frilly dress — and she fits right in with the rest of the parentless kids. Aldous (Stacey Depass) is a gloomy goth; Brian Brain (Andrew Sabiston) is a conceited nerd; Sammy Fishboy (Julie Lemieux) is an impertinent lagoon creature; Charlie (Pete Cugno) is flaming in more ways than one; Armie (Adam Reid) is a severely handicapped kid who's always getting mortally wounded; Beasly and Byron (Julie Lemieux) are conjoined twins; and Seymore Talkless is a mute.
The first episode pretty much just sets up the situation, and focuses mostly on Princess Lucy, who is an extremely annoying character. So much so, in fact, that I almost didn't want to continue to episode 2. Almost… The premise of the show and the mix of characters intrigued me enough to want to see what would happen next.
Episode #2: Do Orphans Dream of Electronic Parents
In this episode, Brian Brain makes use of his stratospherically high IQ and makes himself a set of parents out of an assortment of appliances and leftover computer software. Things are hunky-dory until Brian starts lording it over the other orphans — he has parents, and nobody else does. Nya, nya, nya! Well, pride goeth before a fall, and Brian soon learns that he wasn't as smart as he thought.
Episode #3: An Orphan's Life Indeed
Princess Lucy is on the hunt for a BFF (best friend forever), but out in the middle of nowhere, she finds herself with few choices. She burns through almost everyone in the orphanage, but her overbearing and self-centered personality lead her to one conclusion: She is her own BFF. Lucy clones herself, but finds that a little bit of her goes a long ways.
In a climax that only be likened to a stop-motion claymation Texas Chainsaw Massacre, What It's Like Being Alone is sure to win a lot of fans in the horror community with this episode.
There is perhaps a bit too much potty humor and too many lowbrow jokes for my taste, but that sort of thing certainly hasn't hurt South Park. The bottom line is, What It's Like Being Alone is a clever, subversive comedy series with a lot of dark elements and a surprising amount of heart. Check it out on TV when it debuts later this month, or wait for it on DVD.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson