All images used in this review are from FOXFLASH, Fox’s press release site. The Great North ©2020 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Fox Media LLC. They are used with their permission, as they are publicity images.
Episode summary (spoilers): In the series premiere, not a special preview, Judy turns sixteen. And what better way to express your freedom of aging as a teenager by getting a job behind your parents’ back. In this case, Judy gets a new job at the mall. Early in the morning, she tells her imaginary friend Alanis Morrissette (yes, she voices herself), who encourages Judy to break free from her father’s nest and go to her new job. In the morning, the family is eating breakfast, but a moose invades their home, and steals some of Judy’s birthday balloons. The moose then attacks the guest cabin and steals some of the artifacts Beef kept of his wife, who left him to be with another man in Pennsylvania. Beef is still saddened by this and pretends she died so he doesn’t have to cope with the truth.
While in the car to get Judy’s gift from the mall, Honeybee tells Wolf she wants to move to the guest cabin, but Wolf tells her that his dad wouldn’t approve. To protect Judy, Wolf distracts his dad by pointing to a plant. Beef then doesn’t like the placement of the mall plant so he moves it. This buys Judy time, but she can’t help but stop at a smoothie store who employs a boy she has a crush on. Unfortunately, the boy doesn’t remember her name.
Beef gets to the Point & Shoot photography studio to get Judy’s gift, which is a photo in a frame of her holding a fish. Alyson, the boss, then proceeds to talk romantically with Beef, but he doesn’t seem to understand what she wants. While they’re leaving, Alyson tells her that she’ll see Judy at work in a few days, to which Beef overhears. He then becomes dizzy.
In the car, Beef is still upset about Judy getting a job behind his back, but they still head off to the docks to finish the last part of Judy’s big day. While Beef is complaining when he has trouble lighting a candle for the cake, Judy snaps and says she quits helping her dad on the docks. So Beef storms off.
Wolf, Honeybee, Moon, Ham, and Judy all rush to find Beef; but there are many tracks on the snow, so each of them split up. Judy ventures on one path and finds her dad, who fell off a small cliff and twisted his ankle. Beef is worried that his daughter is breaking away from him, but Judy reassures that she will always love and support her dad, even if she’s getting a new job. Just then the entire family reunites; but the moose returns to attack them. Moon, wanting to show off his moose riding skills, leaps from a tree and attempts to ride the moose, to which he saves his mom’s bikini before the moose runs away. More comfortable after realizing that Judy’s getting older and more independent, Beef allows her to go to her new job. And he also allows Wolf and Honeybee to move to the guest cabin. Alanis sees all of it and says to herself that their heart-to-heart moment was really “diving into life’s butthole.”
My thoughts: Since The Last Man on Earth was cancelled in 2018 (most of the people on that show now work at Bless the Harts), Fox has struggled to find a new longer-running sitcom, live-action or animated (Last Man Standing does not count). But this new animated series will be their third contender for the new incarnation of the Animation Domination block, the hit comedy block consisting of adult animated sitcoms on Sunday night. The first series on the new incarnation was Bless the Harts, and the second was Duncanville, both of which debuted to positive critic reviews and both have been given second season pickups. Now here comes, The Great North. And unlike those two, this one was renewed for a second season before the first season even aired, so should be a good sign, or is it?
The cast is a huge plus. It includes Nick Offerman, Jenny Slate, Will Forte, Dulcé Sloan, Paul Rust, Aparna Nancherla, Megan Mullally, and Alanis Morissette, with everyone mentions here except Sloan and Morissette guest starring on Bob’s at one point. They all do a great job with their lines. In addition, the show was created by the longtime writing duo on Bob’s, and even the duo behind the third Deadpool upcoming film, Lizzie Molyneux and her sister Wendy Molyneux. In addition, Regular Show veteran Minty Lewis helped them create the series. With these big names in the writing business, it’s no doubt that their experience in writing and producing was an important part in the surprisingly good pilot episode.
I found the theme song to be pretty decent as a whole. And it even has lyrics, something that a lot of other Fox animated shows lack. The credits scene was also a big plus, since Duncanville and Bless the Harts play their credits over the animation. While it does give them an extra 30 seconds, it’s hard to see the people being credited, so having its own credits scene was a big plus.
The one thing that I really like about The Great North is that the comedy is much better than the other two shows’ pilot episodes, but that’s partly because it has that Bob’s Burgers vibe in it. And that’s not only in the animation and artstyle, but also in the writing too. I feel like Duncanville‘s pilot had too many cringy jokes and the entire third act was just messy, and while Bless the Harts‘ pilot had a solid story structure with Jenny getting a second job at a strip club to make extra income; however, there weren’t many funny jokes besides Wayne getting his crotch bitten and probably another that I forgot about. This show, however, I think is starting to hit right off the gate, at least against the other two new Fox animated contenders. When Judy and Alanis are talking about the mall, Judy can’t help but mention her crush’s “downstairs” situation, which made for a hilarious joke. Also, I enjoyed when Honeybee said to Wolf that if she moved all the way here from Fresno, that he can move into his backyard. The “69” joke between Alyson and Beef was amusing as well, and that only is strengthened by the cast. Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally are married in real life, so maybe they snuck that joke in the episode.
I also liked how this show not only was just comfortable throwing LGBT representation into the episode, but also not making such a big deal about it. In other animated sitcoms like Family Guy and The Simpsons, when one of their recurring characters came out as LGBT, the show decided a whole episode to them. While that may have been acceptable back then, things are changing, and it’s great that the writers on The Great North are caught up with the trends.
When Ham mentions that he’s gay so he can try to fit in with his family by coming out with something they’ve been hiding (Judy hiding her new job and Wolf and Honeybee hiding the fact that they want to move to the guest house) everyone says they know and they love him just the way he is. I thought that was funny and sweet at the same time. I think it’s a great way to start a show off knowing that. And it’s the first Fox animated sitcom where one of the main characters identifies as LGBT, so I think that’s a plus.
In addition, I thought the pilot had a decent amount of heart put into it. For teenagers, getting a job is a symbol of being more independent and more distant from their parents, so I thought including the message that parents should support their children was really nice too. And it all connects in a funny yet, somewhat heartfelt way. Alanis Morissette did a great job as the imaginary friend, but so did Kumail Nanjiani as Jesus in Bless the Harts. I think it’s a more realistic take on things, because it’s relatable when we go to our minds and debate whether we want to do something. And some people do have imaginary friends in real life.
I mistook this for being the premiere was because the title was called “Sexi Moose Adventure”. So I thought this was a Valentine’s episode. However, based on the preview clips I was able to see before this episode aired, the moose steals some of the letters in Judy’s balloons shaped as letters so on the moose, they spell “sexi”. Episode 2, though is titled “Romantic Meat-Based Adventure”. That episode seems the more likely contender for a Valentine’s day-themed episode than this one based off what we saw tonight.
“Sexi Moose Adventure” is a solid start to a promising new series. But we’ll see if the show is able to keep it this consistent for the season, or if this is just luck. The show’s been renewed for a second season in advance, so we’ll be seeing more of the Tobin’s for quite some time. Compared to Fox’s other new sitcom Call Me Kat, I would say this show has more promise than that one.
I think this show will fit perfectly in the Fox AniDom lineup. Since I just joined the site a few days ago, I’m going to start covering this show weekly. And I’ll be back in mid-February to cover the AniDom block minus Bob’s Burgers, since another contributor on theAvocado covers that show. That leaves me four shows to cover each week (or two or three depending on how nothing The Simpsons and Family Guy are).
Still though, with 30+ episodes total to look forward to between now and mid-May 2022, I could see myself really enjoying this new series. I also don’t like how Fox is pushing this as a “special preview”, when they could just advertise it as the series premiere, and not have episode 2 air for a month. The “special preview” makes it seem like it’s only a few minutes, as opposed to an entire episode. Still though, I’m somewhat happy they moved the date up to January 3 to lead out the NFL with another new comedy Call Me Kat, but at the same time, I’m somewhat disappointed they had to push an episode of Bless the Harts to mid-February just to air this (and that episode was scheduled to air on the last Sunday of November at first)!
Fun fact before I close off. Since Judy has braces, her teeth are constantly shown. The other characters don’t show their teeth at all. This is similar to its sister shows Central Park and Bob’s Burgers where their teeth are not shown. All three are animated at Bento Box.
Overall rating: 8/10