TV Review | Hotbox 1.1

The Comedy Network hyped Hotbox (The Comedy Network: premieres June 2, 10:00 PM) well.  The strange intrusions into ad time helped drum interest in the show.  The promotion hasn’t been all that successful – the official website sucks.  The URL was weirdly formatted when first introduced.  Luckily, Hotbox is good enough to survive its crappy web site and references to Crotch Lake in its “commercials.”

Hotbox fulfills the Canadian cultural need to have an own-brand version of a popular show.  In this case, Hotbox emulates shows like Robot Chicken and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!  Hotbox is currently being paired with Tim and Eric, which makes perfect sense.  In my mind, it makes Tim and Eric look more like a pile of cat dung than it already is.

While Hotbox is less absurdist than its American counterparts, it’s at least comedically sound, its short-sketch edict taken from You Can’t Do That on Television.  The show could be less sophomoric in its humour, which is a problem Hotbox shares with The Jon Dore Television Show, but the writing is solid enough.  Unlike The Jon Dore Television Show, Hotbox displays better levels of consistency.

Hotbox is great in its attention to detail.  The Brad Piss segment mimics the style of an amateurishly-done commercial, the tape looking washed-out and badly edited.  The gag name is horrible, but the sketch wisely focuses on Piss’ inept hucksterism.  Another sketch, “Best Smelling Man Awards,” uses the VHS look to similar effect.  The humour comes more from the look of the commercials and cheap overlaid explosions than the extended body-odour gags.

Not everything on Hotbox works, but a surprising amount of it does.  The success of The Owl and the Man, created by Hotbox hyphenate Pat Thornton as a series of two-minute filler items, wasn’t a fluke.  Not surprisingly, The Owl and the Man has been subsumed into Hotbox.

Hotbox has a possible major weakness.  RoboCop and Lobsterman are recurring characters, and I’d like to know how “RoboCop shills products, creep” and “Lobsterman is crap at keeping a secret identity” deserve more than one sketch.  I hope Hotbox can find the variation necessary to keep the segments fresh, otherwise they will get old fast.  The first episode only scratches the surface of Hotbox, so subsequent episodes will be a complete toss-up.

If Hotbox can maintain its consistency over the course of a full season, this show should do well.  Like Jon Dore, Hotbox will attract a certain type of fan and alienate others.  It’s not a show with broad appeal.  Still, Canada needs more shows like Hotbox.  If How It’s Made can gain a worldwide following despite being a series of nicely-packaged industrial videos, I think Hotbox will find its niche.

Addendum (June 24, 2009) | The next two episodes are much worse than the first.  In retrospect, I should have watched more than the one episode of Hotbox before reviewing it.  While I’m not going to change the review of the first episode, since I did enjoy it at the time, putting it over Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! was a bit much.  I still don’t like Tim and Eric, but I jumped the gun on Hotbox.

I honestly had no idea the “possible major weakness” I alluded to in the first-episode review was, in fact, Hotbox‘s obvious major weakness.  Most of the recurring characters simply aren’t that well-realized.  Rage Rabbit is a lapine Incredible Hulk who gets frustrated with seemingly minor things.  “Dinosaur Man” is about a man who entertains kids by saying “dinosaur” after inane things.  Strict time limits notwithstanding, it’s hard to get behind one-note concepts like that.  I don’t know what the hell Team Course One is supposed to be.

I will note that Hotbox is either loved or hated.  Not trying to influence opinion, just saying it elicits strong reactions.  Of course, so did Girls Will Be Girls and Popcultured.

Cameron Archer

22 thoughts on “TV Review | Hotbox 1.1

  1. Hotbox = Time Wasted, Terrible show, its robot chicken in real life but even more senseless. Awful awful awful,

  2. The show sucks big time. The jokes aren’t funny, the skits are stupid. Bad acting, badly written characters.

    In one episode they push the same skits over and over, it wasn’t funny the first time, and it’s not the kind of thing that gets funnier over time. Every ‘good’ skit they have they already have in their commercials.

  3. I was not impressed at all!! I like Tim and Eric show and all the absurdist !#@$. This just was not funny. I will watch the next episode because I like to support Canadian comedy but I was pretty depressed by the first one

  4. This show’s got to go. I think the “offical” reviewer on this site must be associated with someone on the show or this site needs to find someone more qualified.

    The saddest thing is that Canadian Tax payers are putting cash into this train wreck…I WANT MY MONEY BACK!! The same skits over and over made no sense and never worked the first time, I almost fell asleep during the animations.

    Unfortunately it will probably go on and on because of government funding and end up with the likes of Red Green or the Beachcombers.

  5. This was just an over-hyped heaping pile of show. The only thing I chuckled at was video game-like Father & Son bit. (only a chuckle, mind you) And I’ve seen these actors on already failed Canadian TV shows with no sign of improvement. Our networks don’t seem to know how to sign actual comedy programs. I’ve suffered through Red Green, Air Farce, and now Hot Box. There is comedy talent in Canada, but it’s still untapped. I hope they pull the plug on it… fast! Music pants?! wtf?!

  6. I have never seen Hotbox and never will. I can’t even stand to watch The Comedy Network anymore, because I can’t stand seeing the promos. Pat Thornton is not funny. He’s just a loud mouth fat ass. He is the type of guy you would like to punch in the face just to shut him up.
    Pat (on one of the episodes): “Guess what’s in our meat. It’s apples.”
    Me: “Oh hahahahaha. That’s funny. Stay right there for a minute while I go get my shotgun.” Now that’s comedy.

  7. Instead of waterboarding terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, the US government should force them all to watch Hotbox instead. That way Osama Bin Laden will come running through the front door yelling “LET MY PEOPLE GO.”

  8. Wow, I thought I was the only one mad at this review. I agree with most of your opinions but this is the first time I’m writing to say I completely disagree with your reviewer, Maybe he smoked 90 pounds of pot before watching the show so that he would laugh at anything no matter what but I saw nothing funny in Hotbox. Not one single thing. Here’s hoping it gets canceled soon instead of letting it drag on forever like the comedy network usually does. Last reviewer is right the fat guy is particularly awful.

  9. I loved this show. Doesn’t anyone get the “hotbox” reference to today’s media/technology – destroying the people it touches? Every sketch makes fun of our technology addictions. The trouble is, people love their technology so much, they’re too numb to see anything funny about it. Marshall McLuhan would have loved it too.

  10. The “sandwich adapter” was one of my favorite sketches on Hotbox (episode 3). How often do we go through life just accepting new technology, without even wanting to question how it really works or what it does to us? We just “plug it in” – because someone told us it was a good thing.

  11. Hot Box is one of the worst shows ever. You are right to compare it to Pop Cultured and Girls Will Be Girls because they were also huge huge losers.

  12. One of the worst shows I’ve ever seen. I’m a fan of absurd humor and like tim and eric, but this show is just terrible and the jokes fall flat, are retarded, and plain not funny at all. Worst piece of crap I have seen in recent memory. Actually less funny the the stand-up reruns of women in the 80s making jokes about their period.

  13. Comment number 12 was just hilarious. Hotbox needs someone like PaulH to write better material for them.

  14. hot box is a giant pile of steaming donkey diarrhea. no wait, it is much less funny than steaming donkey diarrhea.

  15. How did they EVER get green lit for this? This is –by far– the worst show I’ve ever suffered through (I’m of the opinion that I’ll give anything at least one shot…but this crap made me seriously re-think that idea)

  16. Hotbox is one of the worst shows ever. It is so bad that watching it makes me angry. Do you realize our tax dollars subsidize this? Something nobody watches or likes. It’s shameful. Everyone involved in this show should be embarrassed.

  17. Has Hotbox finally been cancelled? Or is it just over for the season? I was searching through it through the tv listings and no results came up. Hopefully The Comedy Network came to its senses.

  18. No decision yet. David C. Smith of S&S Productions has told me they’re shopping the show to American networks first.

    I probably would have grown to hate Hotbox on my own. The show repeats its jokes like The Littlest Hobo repeats its one plot of London helping someone, then pissing off. Thanks to the extreme negative reactions to Hotbox, both here and elsewhere, I want this show dead.

    I’m shutting down comments for this review, not for censorship reasons but because the season’s over. Hotbox pisses me off far more than any other show I’ve reviewed for URBMN. I’d rather not dwell on it any further.

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