'A Prayer for Mr. T' review: 'SuperMansion' Thanksgiving special serves up a gala feast with gherkins, pickles, and a sinister turkey!
'SuperMansion' is a slice of life portrayal of superheroes which normalizes the concept that, at the end of the day, they are just messy humans
Thanksgiving came early this year with Sony Crackle's all-new stop-motion animated original special 'A Prayer for Mr. T: The SuperMansion Thanksgiving Special', that premiered just hours ago and marked the fourth special for the Emmy-nominated adult comedy series. While Netflix has established its firm ground in the adult animated genre with shows like 'Archer' and 'BoJack Horseman' gaining massive popularity within a short period of time, Crackle's 'SuperMansion' shows the same potential for the network, with its fast-paced humor and quick wit in the story.
As the official synopsis of the Thanksgiving special episode that premiered on November 15 goes, "the annual Thanksgiving turkey competition between Titanium Rex (Bryan Cranston) and Dr. Devizo (Chris Pine) goes awry when Rex’s turkey transforms into a nightmarish bird monster whose eggs hatch additional freakish bird creatures at an alarming rate.
Lex (Jillian Bell) aims to prove herself worthy of a seat at the grown-ups' table while Black Saturn (Tucker Gilmore) brings The Groaner (Zeb Wells) to his family’s mansion for a traditional Wheelihan Thanksgiving dinner, complete with snobby gherkins and snobbier guests."
Created by Wells, and his 'Robot Chicken' partner, Matthew Senreich, 'SuperMansion' offers a fresh take on glorified superheroes in the form of hilarious spoofs — which the creators swear come from their avid love for comics. And that is evident from this almost 22-minute sketch of various characters with superpowers merrily galavanting their way through the festival, but screwing up every now and then too. Basically, 'SuperMansion' is a slice of life portrayal of 'superheroes' which sort of normalizes the concept that at the end of the day, these superheroes are pretty much messy humans too.
The story circles around the main characters, with a fair few new add-ons too, and for the most part, the humor is crisp, relatable, and worth a loud chuckle. Creator Zeb Wells, who has also lent his voice to the show, does a remarkable job of humanizing these 'heroes' with powers that could save the rest of humanity. And of course, as these heroes meander through the festivities, the most hilarious bit of the entire episode is evidently Black Saturn learning the fine line of difference between gherkins and pickles, courtesy his friend, The Groaner, and the eventual outcome of it.
As the teaser established, post the release of the show, it is only further proof that these few minutes of the scene pretty much amp up the gasp-worthy elements of the Thanksgiving special episode. 'A Prayer for Mr. T.' Spoiler alert! But here's how the hilarious scene plays out: Hiding out next to the trash from his family's Thanksgiving dinner upon his mother's strict orders so no one finds out he's her son, Black Saturn and the Groaner are discovered by Saturn's mom as she intends to 'take out the trash'. And, as the old lady flings a jar of pickles at the Groaner, thus begins his elaborate discourse on the difference between the two. As the Groaner so eloquently points out: "Every gherkin is a pickle but not every pickle is a gherkin".
He then continues his explanation, saying: "See, these are bread and butter chips. This is Thanksgiving, not a white-trash barbeque." Surprisingly to that, Saturn's mother laughs. That's right, and she herself is quite shocked by that. But of course, she has an explanation of sorts and points out that "I usually hate your jokes, but I am wasted, and you are hilarious." And then she does the unthinkable! She actually invites the Groaner inside to the dinner, where she claims to have flown out some pies from France. Saturn, though, is made to stay out.
When an outraged Saturn exclaims he thought they weren't serving dessert, his mother very skillfully changes the name to 'sardined asparagus'. But sadly, what is Saturn's gift in all of this? A can of cranberry sauce even though he doesn't have a can opener!
The teaser ends with Saturn breaking down into a pool of tears, lamenting how with 'great power' comes pretty much no great luck at all when it comes to family Thanksgivings!
Talk about jaw-dropping plot twists! This was a soap opera-level, gasp-worthy moment considering Black Saturn is pretty much the 'rich superhero' minus the dead parents part — quite the direct dig at our honorable Batman. It is with simple scenes like this that viewers are made aware of the subtle expertise of Wells and Senreich's articulate form of comedy.
The fact that they were allowed the liberty to put into full throttle their crip comedic skills from 'Robot Chicken' by the network is also highlighted by this scene that exceptionally stands apart. Also, subtle satirical proclamations like Dr. Devizo saying 'there are no rules' for Thanksgiving cuisine, and Titanium Rex falling prey to a turkey's 'cuteness' are impeccably placed in the plot.
Alongside Cranston, Gilmore, Pine, Bell, and Wells, this special also features voice actors like Keegan Michael Key and Heidi Gardner, who are reprising their roles. Guest stars include Jennifer Tilly, Tony Cavalero ('School of Rock') and Tom Root ('Robot Chicken'). Obviously, Cranston and Pine are exemplary in their portrayal of the characters, but Garner is just too articulate as 'Cooch' to be looked over even in a Thanksgiving special episode.
There's a certain underlying innocence about the episode that keeps viewers hooked despite the spoofs and jokes being simple. Or it could be the simplicity that actually draws fans and adds further proof on how 'SuperMansion' has evolved into a four-time Emmy-winning series.