I had never heard of this series before but saw an advertisement for it with my King of the Hill DVD set. I like animated shows, and this one sounded intriguing, so I decided to try it out. The premise of the series is that God (voiced by James Garner) is tired of the poor state of the world and contemplates destroying it and starting anew. The devil (voiced by Alan Cumming) is excited by the news but is disappointed when God begins to reconsider. God decides to make a wager with the devil. If the person of the devil's choosing cannot prove to God that the world is worth saving, he'll destroy it. The devil chooses Detroit factory worker Bob Alman (I guess, he is to represent ALL of MANkind) voiced by Third Rock's French Stewart. On the surface, it seems like a good choice from the devil's standpoint, as Alman is a beer guzzling, self-centered, porno-watching jokester. As we get to know Bob better, however, he turns out to be a devoted family man. His wife (Rosanne's Laurie Metcalf) is self-centered and his bratty daughter (Lisa Simpson's Nancy Cartwright) is impossible but he does have a warm, caring son who believes in him.
The series starts off very slow. It does not have the in-your-face humor of Family Guy, the endless jokes of The Simpsons and, despite its theme, does not cover as controversial of issues as South Park. Many of the topics are rather mundane. The acting also seems a bit flat. Although, for the most part, this show is tame, religious groups did not like it (probably not even watching it) and it was canceled after airing only a handful of its shows. The show, however, does improve as the series evolves. The characters who, at first, seemed stale to me become more interesting in the later episodes. God is presented as a laid back, hippy, professor type who never gives his pupils a straight answer. The devil's sidekick Smeck (who reminds me of Bill in King of the Hill) seemed annoying to me at first but later provides fresh and genuine comedy to the show. Briefly, here are the episodes:
1. In the Beginning: The premise is established and Bob, unintentionally, stumbles upon what God is looking for.
2. Andy Runs Away: Bob's son runs away after Bob embarrasses him in front of his friends. Not much profound in this episode.
3. Date from Hell: Bob becomes chums with his daughter's first boyfriend, until he discovers who he really is. One of the best God lines: "Girls are tough, that's why I never had a daughter."
4. The devil's Birthday: Martha Stewart helps the devil reorganize hell while Bob discovers how overrated a world without evil is. The devil being hurt that God forgot his birthday is just silly.
5. Neighbor's Keeper: God's new mission for Bob is to save his neighbor's marriage, while the devil tries to get Bob to commit adultery. At the bowling alley, we discover that the devil's team is sponsored by Microsoft.
6. God's Favorite: Thinking he is God's "special guy" has gone to Bob's head.
7. Bob Get Committed: Bob is put in an asylum while the devil takes his place, and then falls in love with Bob's wife.
The show starts improving on disc 2:
8. Lonely at the Top: God decides to find out what it is like to live in the real world and joins Bob's factory crew and softball team. This show is very funny, especially the devil's attempt to create his first flower.
9. Bob Gets Greedy: Bob's mission to do charity work gets put on the back burner when the devil leaves his palm pilot at Bob's house that reveals future sports scores. The ending is over-the-top, though.
10. There's Too Much Sex on TV: The title tells you what Bob's mission is, and he inadvertently succeeds beyond his wildest dreams. This episode may be a little edgy for the kids.
11. Bob's Father: Definitely the best of the bunch. Bob's bullying father dies and Bob is shocked where his father ends up. The idea about a father giving a "softer punch" is interesting. If there is one GD&B episode that can promote enlightening tabletalk, this is it.
12. God's Girlfriend: Elizabeth Taylor voices a woman who God almost considers dating. The most controversial of the episodes, theological consultant Father Kieser chose not to advise this one.
13. Bob Gets Involved: Bob puts together a group to fight society's ills but butts heads with his wife when he gets her play canceled. Smeck in drag is hilarious. The ending is terrible, but here's another source for your 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon games. The moral: progress begins at home.
The extras include a few commentaries that are insightful (we're shown that photographs were used in the animation), a "Making Of" special covering the art, voices, and controversy with remarks by creator Matthew Carlson and executive producer Harvey Myman, plus some silly interviews with God, the devil, and Bob. While this series was a bit slow, in the end, it showed that it had potential. Too little too late, I'm afraid. If you like animation and want to see something less in-your-face, I recommend giving it a shot but don't expect any divine revelation.