One of the nice things about there being so many channels on cable is that there is room for more experimentation in programming. As more and more niche channels pop up and viewership becomes more fragmented, there is more opportunity for networks to take chances on weird or off-beat shows. The major networks are more motivated by ratings are playing things conservatively, but the deeper you go into your channel guide the more shows you are going to find that are aimed at a very small audience. Cartoon Network, in particular, has made their evening programming a haven for weird and wacky programs; while the daylight hours may be dedicated to shows for the kiddos, once their Adult Swim programming kicks in the vibe of the channel changes dramatically. Most of the original programming featured during this time is 15 minute shows that are definitely off the beaten track when compared to what you would normally find on TV. There is no other way to say it- Adult Swim features some weird sh*t.
And it doesn’t get any weirder than their new program, Mike Tyson Mysteries.
The animated program is sort of like Mike Tyson meets Scooby Doo, but that concept doesn’t even begin to explain how weird this little show is. The idea that a cartoon version of Tyson, voiced by the actual former boxer, is a sleuth that tries to solve mysteries in and of itself is a bizarre premise for a show, but that only scratches the surface. Tyson is accompanied in these quests by a giant pigeon, voiced by Norm MacDonald, who apparently used to be a man until he was transformed into a bird by his ex-wife. Tyson also has a high school aged daughter on the show, who was abandoned on the boxer’s door step when she was a baby, and a specter, voiced by Community’s Jim Rash, that is John Chambers, the 9th Marquess of Queensberry and who is presented without context. The first episode of the show features a plot that revolves around Cormac McCarthy and a Chupacabra, as well as jokes that involve bird sex, Tyson’s inability to pronounce words correctly and jokes about John Updike. It’s a mishmash of highbrow and lowbrow jokes and Tyson walks the line of being in on the joke and self-parody. It’s all preposterous and absurd and just very, very odd. By the end of the first episode, I really had no idea what I had just watched or if I even really liked it; I was just too discombobulated by what I had just witnessed. I struggle with getting the absurd branch of the comedy tree regardless, so this may not be the show for me. But it is also so strange that I find myself compelled to tune into the next episode just to see what the writers come up with next. I don’t know if Mike Tyson Mysteries will ever make a ton of sense to me, but since they are only 15 minute installments I’m willing to give the show a chance for a while. I have an inherent love for Scooby Doo and this show has just enough of that DNA to peak my interest, despite the weird diversions and non sequiturs. Honestly, I just want to see if I can ever figure this show out – it has its crass moments, but then it also is kind of sweet. I refuse to believe that, despite first impressions, I am unable to decipher a cartoon.
If you have 12 minutes or so to spare and want to see something that is like Scooby Doo on acid, Mike Tyson Mysteries might be worth a look. I’ve embedded the pilot episode below. It’s a fascinating next step in the already surreal life of Mike Tyson; ESPN’s Bill Simmons was right when he coined the term “The Tyson Zone.” Mike Tyson’s life and behavior have become so erratic and insane that nothing that he does surprises you. Mike Tyson Mysteries is yet another weird entry to Tyson’s resume.
Mike Tyson Mysteries air Monday nights at 10:30 pm on Cartoon Network.