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It's a freak show
on February 22, 2007
What if the Tonight Show were hosted by a washed-up superhero?
That's the quirky idea behind "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast," which unforgivingly lampoons talk shows and empty celeb worship, with the pompous superhero Space Ghost and his ex-nemeses in the spotlight. It takes a few episodes for the idea to really start working, but then it's absolutely hilarious.
Middle-aged Space Ghost lives on the Ghost Planet, where he guards lava-man Moltar and sadistic mantis (or locust) Zorak. And he has a talk show, which he tries to keep relatively calm, but which is frequently disrupted by Zorak's evil ramblings, Brak's demands for attention, and Moltar getting bored and flipping channels.
All his guests are non-animated real-people: Michael Stipe, Terry Jones, Fran Drescher, Lassie, three stars from "Batman," the Ramones, Weird Al Yankovic, David Byrne, Matthew Sweet, Slash, Alice Cooper, Donny Osmond, and a ten-second cameo by Ashley Judd at the end of the first episode (which is arguably the best thing about it).
Along the way, chaos is spread on the set as Space Ghost deals with a giant sea-monkey running amuck, tries to keep Zorak from conquering Rome, tries to convince Adam West to turn into Batman, must rescue Moltar from the evil YOUR MOTHER, falls in love with Fran Drescher, tries to do a monologue, and tries to order a pizza. All while interviewing his celebrity guests: "How many clouds does Earth have?"
"Space Ghost: Coast to Coast" starts rather weakly; the first few episodes are straightforward parodies with no surreal twists. Then the makers got into their niche, and began sprinkling the short program with surreal subplots like Zorak using a spell to make Space Ghost ask stupid questions on the air ("Would you like to see me eat a live mollusk?"). Not to mention utterly random stuff ("The Tingler is loose in the theater!").
At that point, the short episodes become thoroughly entertaining, with the flat Hanna Barbera animation in stark contrast to the live guests, who are a mixed bag. Some (Michael Stipe, David Byrne and especially Slash) seem very uncomfortable, but since the interviews are meant to be awkward, it's not a big deal.
Others (Weird Al, Eartha Kitt, Matthew Sweet, Carol Channing) seem to be enjoying themselves, and even join in on the insanity ("Citizen Joe, we're thrilled to have you on!" "Pleasure!" "Planet." "Gooey." "Deer Tick." "Who knows?").
Space Ghost himself is pretty funny -- pompous, vain about his GI-Joe body, a bit of a snob (he spends half an episode abusing Palmer Mills), and somewhat insane("I am a talk show host. I can say lots of things: Tuna fish, parentheses, coochie-coochie girl Charo. Zingnut ranch!"). Zorak is... well, Zorak. He's evil, malicious, and quite funny.
"Space Ghost: Coast to Coast" may never win a LuLu, but it was a hysterically funny show that only lagged toward the beginning. Definitely worth watching.