Exploring Digital Purgatory: Monsters at Work

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The Movie or TV Show: Monsters at Work (2021) (Three episodes have aired and been watched as of this write-up)

 One Sentence Premise Summary:Pixar produced its first show based off one of its early hits, and it’s…harmless.

Where You Can Stream It: Disney Plus (As of July 15, 2021)

Why I Streamed It: I was a fan of Monsters Inc, less so of Monsters University, but I think Pixar producing a weekly television show is worth checking out.

Why You Should Stream This:

I have been overwhelmingly positive in almost of my reviews to this point, and I have made it a point to highlight the best parts of what I call digital purgatory. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of tiles and endless services ending with “plus.” It speaks to the amount of content that’s out there that Pixar is producing its very first weekly animated show, and while it has gotten some reviews, the show is just sort of there. I don’t think the show is bad. Harmless is a descriptor I used earlier and it seems perfect. You put your kids in front of this show, and they’ll probably enjoy the slapstick humor. This isn’t a loud noisy kids show that will offend your sensibilities, but when I think about what other kids programming does these days (Stephen Universe, Adventure Time, and even the Avatar universe), this show doesn’t really meet those standards.

Pixar has earned the right to be held to high standards based on the quality of their film output. I know people have discussed a slump, but Soul is a visually enticing piece of filmmaking and Luca tells a very sweet wholesome story about two male sea creatures finding out who they are. I could go back in time and bring up the legendary films and franchises Pixar has put forth. In the Disney Plus era, Pixar seems to get the short end of the stick. Their two most recent releases haven’t been in theaters or “Premier Access.” Then you come to a show like this, and while the premise isn’t terrible, I also haven’t been wowed.

Ben Feldman once again goes to a workplace and thinks he’s better than he is (See his character on Superstore) and is playing opposite a female (Val as voice by Mindy Kaling) who isn’t as educated but actually cares about the job. Billy Crystal and John Goodman return to play Mike and Sully respectively. The show picks up just minutes after the end of Monsters Inc. with everyone having adjust to a laugh floor instead of a scare floor. The stakes aren’t quite clear, and the laughs are broad. I don’t think the Pixar formula plays as well in this format. The animation is clearly a step above a lot of other animated shows but also not as good as the movies. This show is not nearly as smooth a transition as Star Wars and Marvel have been able to make, both in the aesthetic quality of the show and the storyline.

The drama is whether Feldman’s Tyler Tuskmon will choose to be a member of the company’s maintenance staff or become a part of the laugh team. The show has not really made this compelling yet. Honestly, the hardest laugh I’ve had is going from Roz to Roze. It’s hard to recommend this show beyond a pleasant 30 minute diversion, but if you have children, you could do a lot worse.

Best PerformanceBilly Crystal over 70 and still brings a tremendous amount of energy to the voice of Mike. I especially liked his manic energy in the second episode when he is trying to make children laugh for a marathon session and trying to teach the comedy class. I’m not sure how much of a factor in the show he’ll play as the series goes on, but it’s great to hear him and know he’s still active. It’s also probably an indictment of the newer cast members that none of their performances have really stood out.

Best Quote: Nothing too notable honestly.

Final Grade: C+

Coming next week, Nathan for You!  

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