Moonbeam City (2015)

Rating: **
Review Date: 1/21/18
Cast: Rob Lowe, Elizabeth Banks, Will Forte, Kate Mara, Adam West, Powers Boothe, Kate McKinnon

10 episodes

"The dumber the reason, the more it must be done."

"Moonbeam City" follows the adventures and exploits of an idiotic cop named Dazzle Novak (Rob Lowe). He's an arrogant and egotistical prick who manages to cruise through life on charm, good looks, and sheer dumb luck. Hot-headed police chief Pizzaz Miller (Elizabeth Banks) is in charge of keeping Dazzle and his antics in line, while rival cop Rad Cunningham (Will Forte) desperately tries to outdo Dazzle at every turn. Rounding out the cast is enthusiastic rookie cop Chrysalis Tate (Kate Mara), who seems to be the only smart and sane one in the bunch. Each episode features Dazzle taking a situation to absurd extremes, which inevitably results in a flurry of death and destruction.

The most notable thing about the series is the art direction and visual style, which is inspired by Patrick Nagel and the neon glitz and glamour of the 1980s. The character design is breathtakingly sexy and the show is pure visual ecstasy to watch. The presentation is intoxicating, and I never grew tired of watching it. The only problem is that the frame rate is jumpy, which I suspect is due to the copy I had, not the source material. Rob Lowe does a good job of channeling Dazzle's overbearing ego, but it's Elizabeth Banks who consistently steals the show with her husky, hard-as-nails, tough bitch delivery. She is simply amazing, and her performance perfectly matches Pizzaz's fiercely stunning beauty. Will Forte and Kate Mara give excellent performances as supporting characters, with Rad being the fall guy and Chrysalis being the straight woman.

Unfortunately, the writing is pretty terrible, which is probably why the show was cancelled after only ten episodes. I got a few chuckles here and there, but it's mostly just mean-spirited juvenile humor mixed with irresponsibly gratuitous sex and violence, and topped off with a hearty dose of stupidity. Given the direction the show was going, ten episodes is probably all that anyone could stand. It makes me wonder if you could apply this same visual style to a serious show, or is the presentation supposed to be part of the joke?