There’s a strange “deadcat bounce” to some comedy shows. If you watch the first one, and it isn’t that funny, but okay to watch, and then watch a few more episodes, you often find that the jokes you didn’t think were funny the first time are not bad when you understand the full context for them.
In other words, once you get past the initial “kersplat” of a premiere, there’s a deadcat bounce to the second or third EPs that work just because you already know the characters and the writers don’t have to dump tons of exposition into the dialogue.
The Great North might be one of those shows. I watched EP1, and as an animated “adult” comedy show, I was expecting to see it be either really lame or just ripping off other shows. But I confess I found it kind of new. Not “Schitt’s Creek” / “Corner Gas” new, which would be bad in my view (I hate both shows’ style of so-called humour with a passion), but more the Simpsons’ in Alaska with older siblings.
It’s about a rugged family living in Alaska, and there’s a great line at the start to explain the Dad’s approach to life:
“Yeah, all right, I’ve chopped this month’s wood, mended the fishing nets, canned a batch of pepper jelly, and brainstormed my Hallowe’en costume. I think people are going to love me as Sully from Monster’s University. And it’s 5 a.m. The kids will be up soon. Oh, I almost forgot to stare with wild wonder at Alaska’s majesty while whispering ‘Hot Dog’. Hot Dog.”
Beef, the Dad, is voiced by Nick Offerman (Ron from Parks and Recreation), and he’s awesome.
The main protagonist in the story though is the daughter, Judie, voiced by Jenny Slate. She’s also awesome, and while it is hard to translate comic timing from SNL to an animated show where they manipulate the audio to match the animation, she does a great job giving Judie some range.
Other voices include the oldest son Wolf (Will Forte, SNL), his fiancée HoneyBee (Dulcé Sloan, The Daily Show) from San Francisco, the next brother Ham (Paul Rust), and youngest brother Moon (Aparna Nancherla). Megan Mulally and Alanis Morrissette also drop by as recurring characters (Alanis as herself, and I don’t recognize her voice AT ALL).
There are a constant supply of dry bits throughout the entire first EP. A moose that gets into the house, Judie talking to Alanis about her life plans and grabbing life by the ass, with a butt cheek in each hand, heck I even enjoyed a passing reference to a dock woman who wants them to buy Tupperware because if she doesn’t sell enough, she’ll owe thousands of dollars to her rep, Cheryl. I admit the first plot was probably ridiculous, as most animated shows are, but having Dad and the kids pretend that Mom was eaten by a bear rather than ran off to Pittsburgh with a guy named Marcus, is a bit odd for an opening premise. Oh, it’s not the main thing, that’s Judie leaving the family fishing business to work in photography at the mall.
But I laughed multiple times, and not only is that rare with most comedies, it is RARER still in a COVID world. I’m in.