TV Review: Children don't play nice in animated 'Lil' Bush'

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Comedy Central
In "Lil' Bush," the main characters are, from left, Lil' Rummy, Lil' George, Lil' Condi and Lil' Cheney.
By Rob Owen
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

While Bush-bashing has become a national sport since the last presidential election, Comedy Central began making fun of President Bush with the 2001 series "That's My Bush!" It was from the creators of "South Park" and wasn't so much about making fun of Bush -- if Al Gore had won the election, producers said they would have made "That's My Gore" -- as it was an intentionally bad sitcom that poked fun at conventions of the genre.

Comedy Central
Lil' Bill Clinton spends lunch hour with the Lewinsky twins on "Lil' Bush."
Click photo for larger image.

'Lil' Bush'

When: 10:30 tonight, Comedy Central.

Starring: the voice of Iggy Pop.

But in Comedy Central's latest animated series, "Lil' Bush" (10:30 tonight), spoofing the president and his policies is the raison d'etre. Imagine the "Muppet Babies" concept -- the Muppets as toddlers -- and apply it to the Bush administration. Thus we have Lil' George (voice of Chris Parson), Lil' Cheney (series creator Donick Cary), Lil' Condi (Anne Villella) and Lil' Rummy (Iggy Pop) getting into all sorts of scrapes and occasionally singing pop songs a la The Archies.

Each of the six episodes produced contains two brief stories. In the first, "The One Where I Go to Iraq for Some Reason," Lil' George visits Iraq to get good news as a gift for his father, who, in the "Lil' Bush" universe, still occupies the White House. When Lil' Condi suggests Iraq may be dangerous, Lil' George replies, "Quit usin' that fuzzy math on me, Condi."

Lil' George eventually concedes, "This gift shopping is turning into a quagmire," but he ultimately selects a war orphan as his Father's Day gift; Lil' George nicknames the child "Lamey."

Lil' Cheney is a cross between two "South Park" characters, mumbling Kenny and sociopath Cartman. Lil' Cheney doesn't say much -- he usually just squawks like The Penguin from "Batman," similar to Jon Stewart's Cheney imitation -- but he's the toughest of the kids, dressing as Rambo and tearing the heads off chickens with his teeth and sucking out their innards.

In the second episode, Lil' Cheney even has a dalliance with Barbara Bush (Mara Cary). Their romance goes to a place that I can't describe in a family newspaper. In a future episode, Lil' Cheney dies and goes to hell but annoys Satan so much that he gets kicked out.

If "South Park" traffics in occasionally brilliant satire, "Lil' Bush" is far more juvenile humor. Liberal partisans may get a kick out of it even as it mocks Democrats, too: Lil' Bill Clinton sits with the "Lewinsky twins" in the Beltway Elementary cafeteria and Lil' Hillary Clinton locks lips with Lil' Condi.

But continuous Bush administration scandals notwithstanding, the show's concept seems limited. How many jokes about one president can you make before repeating yourself?

It's also somewhat telling that "Lil' Bush" began life as a series of shorts made for viewing on cell phones; it wasn't initially intended to be blown up for a TV series. Producers used stories from five of the cell phone shorts for the first batch of episodes.

"Lil' Bush" may not stand the test of time, but in the here and now it's a perfectly amusing, albeit childish, half-hour political comedy.


TV editor Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Ask TV questions at www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Q&A.


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