Wednesday, September 8, 2021

TV Show Review: Monsters at Work - Season 1

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Characters we love, both old and new
Cons: Repetitive, aimed more at kids
The Bottom Line:
Characters return
With new ones added to old
It’s fun, but not great

“Is This the Right Thing to Do?”  “I’m Going to Remain Neutral on This Until I See What Happens.”

Monster’s Inc. is one of my favorite movies of all time, so the Monsters at Work series was one of the reasons I decided to get DisneyPlus.  I think my expectations were a little too high for the series.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t quite as good as I was hoping it would be.

The show is set right after the movie ends.  It follows Tylor (voiced by Ben Feldman), who has just gotten his letter hiring him at Monster’s, Inc. as a scarer.  However, his first day on the job is the first day that the facility is planning to convert over to laugh power.  Tylor has trained his entire life as a scarer, so he can’t just make the swap to jokester.  As a result, he is sent down to MIFT, the maintenance department of the company where he meets his strange new co-workers.  There’s Val (Mindy Kaling) who claims the two of them were friends at Monster’s University.  There’s Duncan (Lucan Neff), who is certain that Tylor is out for the promotion that Duncan thinks he deserves.  Cutter (Alanna Ubach) might be the most normal of the lot, well, except for her pessimism.  The entire team is supervised by Fritz (Henry Winkler).

But Tylor is desperate to get on the floor, and if that means learning to be funny, he will do it.  He also will do anything he can to impress Mike and Sulley (Billy Crystal and John Goodman), who are now running the company, or trying to.  Will he learn to be a jokester?  Or will he accept his life as a MIFTer?

Quite obviously, if you haven’t seen Monster’s Inc., or at least seen it in a while, you’ll want to watch that first to refresh your memory of the characters and the situation.  Mike and Sulley are supporting characters in just about every episode.  Jennifer Tilly’s Celia and Bob Peterson’s Roz are back frequently, and we see other supporting players from the movie pop up.  It’s a lot of fun.

Where the show fell flat for me was the repetitive arcs for the characters.  Most episodes revolve around Tylor thinking he’s figured out a way to become a jokester only to have it not work out like he envisioned.  Fortunately, they soften Val after a few episodes, and I start to like her character.  Duncan, however, was fairly one note the entire way through, and I grew tired of him.

Which is a shame because there is much to enjoy.  I smiled if not laughed at least once every episode.  The visuals and voice acting continues to be top notch.  I often felt amused when I finished an episode.  I’m glad I watched them, but there isn’t a burning desire to watch them again.

I think the problem may just be the target audience.  I feel like the show will work better for kids than adults.  I suspect they will enjoy it.  Adult fans of the movie will definitely want to check it out, but I doubt they will enjoy it as much as kids will.

We get a bonus segment at the end of each episode.  Mike is teaching a class in humor to train more jokesters, and we always pop in for a quick lesson.  These are always fun and a definitely highlight of the episode.

The show has 10 episodes, and each one comes in just under half an hour.  There’s no word yet on if there will be a second season or not, but season one ends with the characters in a great place, so if we don’t get more, we can walk away happy with how things turned out.

And please don’t misunderstand.  While the show wasn’t as great as I was hoping for, I’m glad I watched it.

So if you have kids or are a fan of the characters, you’ll want to check out Monsters at Work.  It will entertain them and amuse you.

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