I’m not sure if this is the case for you, but when I think animated series, I usually don’t think about things like Napoleon Dynamite or Harold & Kumar, but it seems like I’m going to have to start thinking about it, because believe it or not, it’s happening. An animated version of Napoleon Dynamite was announced in October of last year, whereas the Harold & Kumar series was announced during the 3rd film’s opening weekend. Napoleon has a trailer (which is much less funny than I expected) as well as a network, FOX. Harold & Kumar has neither of these, but the original cast has already signed on, and there have been reports of many offers by networks.
Let me run down Napoleon Dynamite first since it seems to have a more concrete stance as of right now. I first saw the preview back in February or so, and I was extremely under whelmed. Despite the return of the entire cast as well as the writer/directors of the original film, it seems like Mr. Dynamite and crew have completely lost all the wit and subtle humor that made the original film so damn funny. With that being said, I can be as skeptical as I want, but I’m going to have to wait until the show actually premieres to make a decision, and I might be waiting a long time since an official premiere date has not yet been released.
The details on the Harold & Kumar series are much more ambiguous, as the show was just confirmed. Both John Cho and Kal Penn who play Harold and Kumar, respectively, have signed on to the show. The writers of the original three films, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, have also signed on to be the lead writers for the series. This is all great and dandy, but one crucial thing is missing, NPH. Many people are concerned that NPH will be reduced to the occasional cameo due to his commitment to How I Met Your Mother, but I have a different theory. HIMYM, which is on its 7th season, has only one more to go after this. That equates to about one and a half more years of Barney Stinson before the show’s inevitable end. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t that give NPH enough time to do everything?
The most interesting thing, in my opinion, about this whole situation, is that both of the series are based off of modern cult classic films. What’s next, Piranha: The Animated Series? The success of these shows is either going to be immediate or non-existent. Animated shows on FOX have proved to be moderately successful, with both Family Guy and American Dad on their roster. Harold & Kumar’s success though, depends solely on the network that picks it up. The films themselves are known for raunchy content and habitual drug use. If a network like NBC were to nab the show, the censors would be almost devastating to the show’s basic premise. We don’t want a watered-down H&K do we? Another problem I predict is that the antics of the duo will become stale after a season or two. Unless an ongoing issue or plot is introduced, seeing 22 minutes of different fiascos every week may get old quickly. As much as I want to be excited about this, I’m also very scared that it’ll ruin the lore, appeal, wit, and heart that makes the Harold & Kumar films so appealing.
While everyone loves a good animated series, will the fact that they’re based off of movies kill it, or make it worth watching. Let’s look at the track record of other shows based on movies. Clerks: Uncensored was a 2000 animated series based on the successful Kevin Smith Viewaskewniverse. The show itself only lasted six episodes, but has a surprisingly large cult following consider its extremely short screen life. Another film to animation series was The Real Ghostbusters, an extremely successful show that lasted five seasons, totaling 147 episodes. Other big to small screen adaptations include Tales From the Cryptkeeper, Police Academy: The Animated Series, Droids: The Adventures of R2D2 and C3PO, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, RoboCop: The Animated Series, Star Trek: The Animated Adventures, Back to the Future: The Animated Series, and Beetlejuice. Some of the shows were successful, but many of them weren’t. With the mostly successful return of Beavis and Butthead, who knows what’s next?