Netflix Pick of the Week: Bojack Horseman seeks fame (postmortem)

“BoJack Horseman” appeared to be just another cheesy animated show. I saw its thumbnail publicity photo and thought to myself, “why bother? There are plenty other good Netflix Originals.” It looked like a crude attempt for Netflix to mimic adult swim. When animated comedies come to mind, so do non-sequential episodes and jokes that lie either too flat or too offensive. But after I watched the first season, I realized I had underestimated it.

The show takes place in fantasy Los Angeles, host to humans and humanoid animals alike. It tells the story of BoJack Horseman, a washed-up actor/horse who previously played the main role in the old sitcom “Horsin’ Around.”

BoJack’s agent Princess Caroline proposes that he hire a ghostwriter to write a his memoir to revive his lost fame and reinvent his image as a relevant and appealing celebrity. There are two complete seasons available to watch along with a third season that has just started.

The show’s cast is the most impressive aspect, bringing together popular actors such as Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”), Alison Brie (“Community”), and Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”) as the voices for the show’s main characters.

Netflix does not have a long history in the business of television production. But, more often than not, Netflix’s shows feature superior actors who play their characters perfectly. It started with Jason Bateman and Portia De Rossi in “Arrested Development” and then the company acquired two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey to play the lead role in “House of Cards,” Netflix’s most successful program. They were also able to hire Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney to produce the title sequence song “BoJack’s Theme,”the quirky yet catchy accompaniment to the show’s opening sequence.

Even though the show is animated, it would be lost without the voice actors. The deep voice of Arnett projects BoJack’s stature well and Paul’s lackadaisical, relaxed tone helps create the image of a lazy druggie for Todd, Bojack’s housemate, that fits his personality perfectly. In addition to Arnett and Paul, Patton Oswalt voices several recurring characters, adding another degree of satire.

As for the plot, it’s a quirky concept. The fact that the setting is as if Los Angeles was inhabited by both humans and humanoid animals. But it is presented well through clean animation and well-structured story lines for each. It’s a show that you’d watch and, at some points, wonder why it wasn’t animated. Much of the dialogue and scenes mirror those of most live-action sitcoms, adding to the show’s seriousness and realism.

The “BoJack Horseman”series is riddled with questionable moments and scenes, like most shows, but the main issue I had when I first watched was trying to get through the initial episodes. The  first six episodes are just plot development. The comedy doesn’t do much to distract the viewer from the insipid story-line.

If anything, the first six episodes are the reasons for why the show does not receive as much recognition. The ratings of the following episodes in the series do promise a great continuation, but the first six don’t help the show’s credibility.

All in all, however, “BoJack Horseman” is a truly imposing Netflix Original. It was a little ambitious for Netflix to take a step into the realm of animated sitcoms, but this one seems to be fairing well against some of the other programs on the site, especially with a third season coming out in 2016.

Definitely give this show a watch because it leaves quite the impression. Just make sure you can endure the first six episodes.