Napoleon Dynamite: Is the TV Series Worth Watching?

Napoleon Dynamite  tv seriesIt’s been nearly eight years since Napoleon Dynamite hit the big-screen. The characters were somewhat cartoonish but were fans of the live-action cult classic really looking for an animated TV series sequel?

Napoleon Dynamite follows the adventures of an awkward teenager (Jon Heder) and his family and friends in a small-town in rural Idaho. The original castmembers reprising their roles from the film include Heder, Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Tina Majorino, Sandy Martin, Jon Gries and Diedrich Bader.

Is this new TV series worth your time? Here’s what the critics are saying:

LA Times: “It appears to be aimed squarely at a tween and early teen audience, making it a rare bird among ‘grown-up’ animated shows. South Park, Family Guy and even The Simpsons have forced parents, already burdened by the dilemmas of social media, to agonize over when their kids are ready to watch these particular cartoons, but Napoleon Dynamite, like its feature film predecessor, is surprisingly family friendly. And that’s something anyway.”

NY Daily News: “Whether Napoleon will work as a weekly animated series may depend on how well a teenager fits in with the other oddballs who populate Fox’s Sunday-night animation bloc.”

NY Times: “Over all, though, Sunday night’s episodes are neither here nor there, lacking the oddball singularity of the movie while not yet achieving the satirical bite that would make the TV show interesting. It might have seemed as if a cult movie with cartoonish characters would lend itself to a cartoon, but it’s clearly not as simple as that.”

SF Chronicle: “The writing is a big problem. It’s just not funny, and that may be because audiences could see the real Jon Heder’s expressionless face as he delivered the preposterous dialogue in an unwavering monotone. A two-dimensional Heder isn’t as entertaining. The TV version may do well enough, but if so, it will be largely undeserved. The Hesses can tinker with the show, of course, but unless they’re willing to see the folly of transferring the film concept directly to TV, Napoleon is unlikely to get much better. As it is, Napoleon’s conceptual problem is not too far removed from the egregious mistake of turning the animated Scooby Doo into a live-action feature a decade ago. Freddie Prinze Jr.’s career has never been the same since.”

Chicago Sun Times: “I’ve already established that I’m not a big fan of the film, for which my one-word review would be: meh. I’m even less a fan of the TV series. At least with the movie, the actors relayed a vulnerability that sparked occasional empathy. That pathos got lost in the transition from live action to animation. So did much of the humor — and there wasn’t a lot of that to go around in the first place.”

Newsday: “Despite flashes of the original charm, this series will disappoint some fans of the original. The movie was funny because it was plausible; this cartoon is largely not funny because it is implausible. In spots, it’s been turned into an antic Saturday morning cartoon. A shame.”

USA Today: “Despite the participation of the movie’s creators and the voices of the original cast, tonight’s vulgarized premiere removes much of what made the film special and leaves just another second-rate Fox cartoon. But the second episode at 9:30 ET/PT is a sweeter, funnier improvement. We’ll have to wait and see which represents the show’s actual direction.”

What do you think? Will you be tuning in? If you’ve already watched Napoleon Dynamite TV series, will you watch again? Do you think it will get big ratings or end up cancelled?

Canceled and renewed TV show

29 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Lori says

    The beauty of the movie being made into a cartoon series is that anything can happen. As movie budgets only go so far and actors can only physically do so much.

  2. Ceejie says

    Long story short: if you liked the movie, you’ll most likely enjoy the TV show. Sure, it’s predictable and somewhat out of place with the more vulgar Family Guy and (to some extent) The Simpsons, but I thoroughly enjoyed the two episodes enough that I can’t wait to watch ’em again on my DVR. The part with the electronic lovemaker gave me a good laugh! And they brought back all of the original cast, which is a plus(FYI my friend has actually met Jon Heder in real life because they graduated from the same high school in Salem, OR).

    So don’t be a “freakin’ idiot”, give it a shot, and if you don’t like it, the humor wasn’t meant for everyone to understand!

  3. Dustin says

    I really liked the movie because of it’s originality and retro feel, along with great acting that really captured what it would be like to be an unpopular teen. The show fails miserably in getting any of this across. The movie was around 1.5 hours, and each episode is around 20 mins with commercials… So my question is how long can they go repeating the same antics and expressions that made the movie so great? They seem to have already covered them all in the first 2 episodes. I really wanted this to be good, but it just wasn’t at all.

  4. Bethany says

    LMAO, No I am not laughing at the show which was predictable at best (there was that bit where the school was looking for a teacher who actually understands math. I laughed at that) But I don’t see this show doing any better than Alan Gregory. It had a few sort of funny moments, but nothing to compare with the rest of Animation Domination standards. What I am actually LOLing to is that someone actually thought the show was even remotely comparable to Family Guy. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    For those who loved the show, I could see that if I were in the right mood, the show might be better. But even my boys who are avid fans of Family Guy, The Simpsons, American Dad, Cleveland Show, and Robot Chicken left the room before the first episode was even 1/2 over. It didn’t help that the playoff game ran over (as always) and messed up the airing of all Fox shows. This meant that when they tried to tune into the shows they actually wanted to watch, they got Napoleon in stead. must have been great for ratings to get people who were trying to watch Family Guy in stead.

  5. keb says

    i don’t undersand why i see people saying the show is horrible when the show is funny. face it, this humor is not for everyone…but i laughed my bum off.

  6. Beth says

    Even though I didn’t see the episodes in order cuz of football….I loved it! Can’t wait when it is on next week?? It is amazing what you can do with cartoons! Plus, the people who play Napoleon and Pedro were on my local news! Cuz, they were here for the Packer game!

  7. Brian says

    Yeah, the movie was quite brilliant….the TV show, simply isn’t. The TV show completely misses what made the movie funny…..Whoever is writing these episodes simply doesn’t have the necessary skill to pull this off. It’s a shame really…..

  8. Brandy says

    Best show ever! As a awkward teenager myself napoleon dynamite is the most hilarious show I have ever seen! I have seen the movie, and i love it! If you have seen the movie the show may not be as good, but i laughed the entire time! My favorite part was when napoleon was a baby and kip took his binkey and napoleon cried haha so weird! I truly love Napoleon Dynamite!

  9. Jeremy Rynek says

    NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Although then again, the movie wasn’t good either.

  10. Colin says

    I agree with the Chicago Sun Times review completely

    wasn’t a fan of the movie to begin with and this seems odd to suddenly bring it back as a cartoon now

  11. john says

    If these idiot critics didn’t like the movie, since you have to have a sense if humor to get it, they won’t like the animated series.

    • stephen says

      In this particular case, the idiots are not necessarily those disliking that entire mess.
      Also, you don’t need to like the original of anything to enjoy it’s spin-off or adaption to the small screen, and vice-versa.

      Worth pointing out, dear John: Anyone with a different opinion is not automatically an idiot.

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