Dan Vs. The World
Dan (voiced by Curtis Armstrong)
With the inception of The Simpsons in 1989 (and quite possibly before that), there came to be an understanding that cartoons were not just for children anymore. The somewhat jerky, epileptic feel to the cartoon aside, the early episodes of The Simpsons taught us that adult humor could exist in animated form, and that cartoons could reside in the world of primetime television. It became acceptable for adults to also tune into cartoons on a weekly basis and not be mocked for watching kid shows.
The Simpsons were followed by a barrage of television cartoons aimed at adults. To name a few: Beavis and Butthead, Ren & Stimpy, Johnny Bravo, Family Guy, Robot Chicken, and of course the always amazing The Venture Bros. It wasn’t just an influx of adult humor cartoons that invaded the airwaves. Cartoons based on comic books brought viewers much darker worlds than we experienced as children. The Justice League, Young Justice, Star Wars Clone Wars and Batman Beyond all provided adults with glimpses into the more serious, not-so kid friendly superhero (and Star Wars) life. With awesome artwork and storylines, adults everywhere were whisked back into cartoons as regular viewing material.
Enter Dan Vs. In 2011 the world was first introduced to the unusual character of Dan. Voiced by the nerdiest of them all, the talented Curtis Armstrong (of the movie Revenge of the Nerds and more recently King of the Nerds reality show), Dan is a rough character that one probably wouldn’t want to know in real life. His character, however, is a hysterical combination of hatefulness and truthfulness. In the beginning of each episode, Dan identifies an enemy that he plans to take on and destroy. It is at that moment that the rest of the show’s title is revealed for that episode. For example, “Dan Vs. Golf” or “Dan Vs. The Dentist”.
After his enemy is identified, Dan enlists the help of his best friend and unwitting accomplice, Chris (voiced by Dave Foley of The Kids in the Hall fame). Despite Chris’s best efforts to resist helping him, Dan somehow always manages to get Chris in on the action. Elise (voiced by Paget Brewster, Criminal Minds), Chris’s loving and skeptical wife, also gets involved. At first she appears to oppose Dan, yet she either secretly helps Dan or encourages Chris to assist him in his latest revenge mission. Elise also has a secret: she works for a government agency under the code name Dancing Shadow. Rounding out the cast is Dan’s adorable cat, Mr. Mumbles (also voiced by Paget Brewster). Dan rescued Mr. Mumbles from the animal shelter right before he blew it up in the episode “Dan vs. The Animal Shelter”. Mr. Mumbles is the unlikely voice of reason in the show (though she doesn’t speak), providing calm to Dan in times when he needs it most. Fun fact, Mr. Mumbles is a female cat. She’s also just so darn cute!
Mr. Mumbles, Dan's loveable female cat
The characters of Dan Vs. are well-developed and wildly different from other shows. Their relationships with each other and within the bounds of the show are nicely defined. Each character is likeable, even the scruffy Dan with his shirt that simply reads, “Jerk” and his angry manner. Dan’s missions are, well, relatable. He usually battles against people or things that most of us would battle if we could:
~“Dan Vs. Reality TV” – Dan finds himself the butt of a dating reality show joke and vows revenge against the producer of the show, Buddy Starr.
~“Dan Vs. The Bank” – Dan’s ATM fees are raised by fifty cents.
~“Dan Vs. The Barber” – Dan’s barber gives him a bad haircut.
~“Dan Vs. The Gym” – Dan takes advantage of a free gym trial only to get tricked into signing a long-term membership.
Some episodes have such absurd twists that, strangely, they almost seem plausible:
~“Dan Vs. The Mechanic” – Dan’s mechanic takes Dan’s car parts to build a giant robot.
~“Dan Vs. The Lemonade Stand Gang” – a group of kids run a lemonade stand like mafia thugs.
~“Dan Vs. The Neighbors” – Dan is convinced that his new neighbors are attempting to kill him to indulge their cannibalistic needs.
Dan Vs. is an awesome cartoon that rivals the best of adult animation. The witty dialogue, fun characters, and revengeful twists make it a show that is deserving of recognition. If you have not had the opportunity to watch Dan Vs., make it a priority and add it to your “must watch” list. You won’t be disappointed.
Dan Vs. airs on The Hub with original episodes on Saturdays at 4:30p ET/1:30p PT, and reruns air throughout the week. You can also view clips of Dan Vs. on The Hub’s website, http://www.hubworld.com/dan-vs/shows/dan-vs, under “Videos”. The first season is available for purchase, as well as individual episodes from all seasons. Enjoy!