While it may take a little bit to get started and risk turning viewers away in its opening scenes, 'Legends of Chamberlain Heights’ has all the pieces of a series that could grow into something of substance
Comedy Central has long been notorious for near boundless content which often gain heated reactions from its audience, even those among their more niche demographic. At first glance, their latest series, ‘Legends of Chamberlain Heights’, appears strive too strongly for inclusion in this pool often resorting to shock-value tactics that are either cringe-worthy or directly fall flat, but as the episode and series progresses you find the surrounding world of the central characters to be far more entertaining and give greater promise to the series as a whole.
The initial minutes of “Jamallies” may not have been the finest selection to debut a series as brash and slang-ridden conversation between the three main characters makes them appear both mildly grating and poorly scripted. Their is an obvious intent for their dialogue to be ironic, at least in part, for its use of slang and constant swearing, but the extent to which this is intentional is left unclear and thus it can come across as primitive and merely there for shock-value. This is not to suggest you would expect and Oscar-winning script, as that would be misaligned with the direction of the series, but even within the scope of the show’s style and audience, the central three’s dialogue is lacking to the extent that it could turn away viewers in those initial moments alone.
This, however, would be a error in judgement as you soon realise that it is the supporting cast that makes the show a far more endearing and entertaining experience. Enough so, that it supports the series overall. Characters such as the rage-fueled coach, Milky’s botoxed mom, and the ogre-like Medina are highly entertaining in design, scripting, and delivery, and suggest a far more talented creative team driving the series who may simply still be finding their footing with Grover, Jamal, and Malik . This is further exemplified by Jamal’s intellectual younger brother who, although obviously intended to satirize those who take social justice to the extreme, still serves to underline many important issues facing minority groups and thus reflects a more intellectual basis for the series than is initially apparent. Though the series does not make such obvious social and political statements as that which ‘South Park’ has become notorious for, the thread-lines are there, hitting issues such as vaccinations, and thus it will be interesting to see the degree to which such topics are explored in the future.
The comedic aspects are slow to the start but quickly gain momentum, veering away from the blatantly crass or profanity-ridden “jokes” that are so often the go-to in adult comedies. While there are, admittedly, many of these early on, they become more sporadic in later episodes and replaced by a far more original comedic touch. Praying to the almighty God, LeBron, a stoned robot baby’s eyes flashing “4:20”, and the menagerie of reasons for Jamals’s brother needing money are just a few of the comedic stomach punches that well warrant a laugh.
The art style very much suits the essence of the series being a slightyl rough around the edges and appearing as the type of artwork you would expect the characters of the show to create. Though it may appear undeveloped at first, its simplicity proves that you dont need a crisp animation style to tell a story or project comedy.
Through the cursing, comedy, and non-stop action, the creators has achieved a central, yet often overlooked aspect necessary in all shows on this genre in being able to provide a counterbalance to the constant obsurdity. This comes in the form of Jamal who, although hilarious and quirky in his own right, is a much more genuine and heart-felt charater than those around him and thus helps anchor the series on a deeper level. His genuine affection for Cindy, and bathed in heart evne if his actions are somewhat mislead by his lack of intellect. Without pandering to the emotional aspects, Jamal allows the series to hit a much more diversified and well balanced tone.
While it may take a little bit to get started and risk turning viewers away in its opening scenes, 'Legends of Chamberlain Heights’ has all the pieces of a series that could grow into something of great substance. Whether it continues its improving path and lives up to these expectations or not remains to be seen, but its a journey worth watching, particularly for those seeking a new taste for their adult comedy palette.