As one of the producers of Robot Chicken, Douglas Goldstein was one of the early adopters of the 11-minute, adult-animation format. Halving the half-hour format has become a common practice in both adult and children's animation in the years since -- obviously kid animation always had a long history of short animation -- but few take advantage of it the way Goldstein's new series, Devil May Care, does. The premise -- an everyman character is sent to Hell, where he plays straight man to a group of evil eccentrics -- sounds on its face like something that has been done before, but there are some key twists in this take.
First, the voice cast is terrific. After his turn as Mr. Nobody, maybe Alan Tudyk as The Devil seems like an obvious choice, but it works exectly as well as you would hope. Asif Ali (who has his own geek bona fides, having recently appeared in The Mandalorian, WandaVision, and Star Trek: Lower Decks) plays Beans, our everyman, and has the perfect blend of being perplexed, frustrated, and scared, without losing a sense of wonder that gives him some funny moments amid the chaos. Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and Fred Tasciatore (American Dad, Animaniacs, and pretty much every cartoon or video game you've ever heard of) provide a more "traditional" version of Hell as gleeful torturers Gloria the Demon and William McKinley.
Along the way, Beans is tasked with being the head of IT for Hell, and if moderating social media for the worst people in the universe doesn't sound terrifying, it's hard to say what does. The premise hasn't been fully explored yet, although Devil's desire for approval made an episode where he launched a social media network and tried to become an influencer a pretty entertaining one. And there, you got to see McKinley dance for a viral video, and then do a cooking video that blended surreal imagery, historical trivia, and absurdity.
That the 25th President of the United States -- a man most audience members probably couldn't tell you anything about, other than that he was assassinated -- is one of Hell's top lieutenants gives you a sense for the show's identity, which blends randomness and irreverence with the same relentless pacing that makes Robot Chicken so much fun.
It's that pacing that makes the show perfect for the shorter format. Devil May Care squeezes every drop of laughs out of its short running time, and uses it to make the most out of a great concept for a joke which, in other hands, could be a bit of a threadbare concept for a whole episode of television. In an episode where The Devil is brought to Earth by an atheist who hopes to disprove the existence of God (Devil brings up the theological inconsistency in this thinking, but is shouted down), the writers get virtually every clear joke out of the idea, but when it has run its course, the end of the episode comes abruptly, and you realize that the whole thing is over already.
You can catch Devil May Care on Syfy at midnight ET/PT on Saturdays.