When it comes to Adult Swim shows most people say that they are for those with a surrealist/absurdist/alternative/black or just plain bizarre sense of humour, and that those who don’t like the humour in Adult Swim shows, well, they simply don’t get it. I will be the first to admit that this is not going to be a show that you can just jump into and love straight away especially if you don’t pick up on the word play and pop culture phenomenons the show is riffing on.
Xavier: Renegade Angel is about a nomadic philosophical/conundrummer/shaman creature-thing called Xavier. He looks like Chewbacca or some kind of weird faun; he has a snake hand, a beak, two different coloured eyes, backwards knees, and a third eye for a penis (or peen-eye)…and six nipples. He thinks he is a saviour and a wise man, but in reality he makes everything worse, ruins peoples’ lives and constantly gets beaten up by people who can’t cotton on to his ways. The point/plot? Xavier is on a quest to find his origin.
With Xavier: Renegade Angel, I don’t think the “you don’t get this sense of humour” applies. I think that anyone can enjoy the show and can definitely grasp the humour. People can understand the show, they just don’t give it enough time. It’s not a show where you’ll know if you like within the first five minutes. I wasn’t very fussed with it til about three episodes in. And now I’ve watched the whole series about four times since I’ve had it. I’ve shown it to three people and only one understood it, the other two thought they could write a show like this in ten minutes and/or that it was a show written by stoners.
Xavier: Renegade Angel is a visual, verbal and existential assault on the mind-sack (as Xavier would put it). There is literally ten sight and sound metaphors/puns/gags/jokes/lines going on at any given time and I think this might be why it is too much for some people. It’s a blitz coming out of your screen that goes beyond the moronic humour of crap like Family Guy that just bangs on and on (you’re lucky if one out of ten jokes are funny). To some Xavier might seem like constant immature jokes and weird content, but to others it’s a vortex of culture, social observations, immaturity, spirituality, violence, altruism and new age gumbo. It’s all thrown at you super fast and sometimes in a nascent clue-ridden childish way but once you get it it’s just mind-blowingly awesome to be seeing and hearing this all coming from a cartoon.
Although it has its fair share of immaturity, Xavier’s crappy jokes and juvenile antics (such as crying for his mommy) are juxtaposed with the ideas and works of people like Foucault, Huxley, Jodorowsky etc and is a show that is extremely Dada-like but very accessible if you give it a chance. It’s quite a hard show to review because there’s so much going on within it that you really can‘t explain all of it succinctly.
The art may seem horrible but is easy to adjust to and my advice is to not write this off as a random show, there are so many layers to it that you may not pick up on unless you’ve watched it at least twice. I feel in a way the show is deliberately made to almost not appeal to mainstream viewers, and that only a certain percent of those who watch it will like it. There’s so much figurative, metaphorical and literal bombardment going on in an eleven minute episode that I can see why people can’t and don’t like it. May I quote and bastardize the words of Alejandro Jodorowsky “ If you are great, Xavier: Renegade Angel is a great picture (well, show). If you are limited, Xavier Renegade Angel is limited”. I will put it out there that if you’ve read stuff like Carlos Castaneda, Aldous Huxley, or read a bit about drugs, mysticism, spirituality and are in to all things psychedelic and challenging then I am sure you’ll probably thoroughly enjoy this series.
Infinitely quotable and so great that you will find yourself watching it over and over again. Highly recommended. Xavier will change your life…life…life…
The Madman release of Xavier: Renegade Angel compiles both season one and two and has a run time of 240 minutes.
Include a Xaviercize clip (that’s Xavier doing aerobics), fan commentaries and contest submissions where fans made their own 2-3 minute episodes of Xavier doing stuff.
Available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.