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FOX is Hoping That Audiences Really Want to Visit Krapopolis

As the strike lingers into its fifth month for writers, the networks are still bringing out shows in the can that they hope will connect with viewers. One such program is an animated comedy that someone at FOX must absolutely love. Understandably, FOX went straight to series in 2020 with Dan Harmon, given his massive success in the animated realm with “Rick and Morty.” Who wouldn’t want that brand in the line-up known as Animation Domination (at least before the allegations against “Rick” co-creator Justin Roiland surfaced)? “Bob’s Burgers,” “Family Guy,” “The Simpsons,” and a show as big as “Rick and Morty”? FOX was so thrilled at the prospect that they renewed the show for a second season in early 2022, which isn’t weird, but it was a bit shocking when they took it a step further and gave the show a third-season commitment before an episode had even aired. They want people to move into “Krapopolis,” but will their affection for this odd duck of a show be rewarded with viewers for three full seasons? Someone might want to start praying to the Gods.

“Krapopolis” unfolds in a version of ancient Greece that fits the odd sense of humor of the “Community” creator, someone who has always seemed fascinated by the way things work, whether it’s an unexpected collection of people in a community college or the many alien civilizations visited by Rick and his nephew Morty. Richard Ayoade playfully voices Tyrannis, the mortal son of a Goddess named Deliria, brought to life with egocentric glee by Emmy winner Hannah Waddingham (“Ted Lasso”). Tyrannis is always trying to be good enough for both his people and his dysfunctional family, which also includes a half-centaur/half-manticore father named Shlub (Matt Berry of “What We Do in the Shadows”), a half-sister/half-cyclops sister named Stupendous (Pam Murphy), and a half-brother/half-mermaid named Hippocampus (Duncan Trussell).

The three episodes sent to press of “Krapopolis” almost play like a hybrid of “Arrested Development,” “Rick and Morty,” and Greek mythology. Tyrannis is the put-upon Michael Bluth of this demented clan, working hard to impress his mother and protect himself from his father’s bad habits while fending off the poor decision-making of his siblings. The writing on “Krapopolis” isn’t as sharp as some other Harmon properties, but it’s consistently entertaining. If there aren’t massive laughs, there’s a steady flow of chuckles, and sometimes, that’s all someone needs after a long Sunday. It’s also a decent place to start, given shows like this often improve as their sense of humor refines over multiple episodes. It also reminded me of early “Futurama,” falling back on its setting/concept too often but improving when it leans into character and a surreal sense of humor. The writing works when it takes familiar concepts from mythology and takes them someplace unexpected.

Of course, it helps immensely to have this cast. Ayoade can do awkward intellectual in his sleep, but the real scene-stealer is the one who so often walks away with episodes of “What We Do in the Shadows,” too. Matt Berry’s dry wit and comic timing come through even in animated form, and the first few episodes feature strong guest performances, too, including a hysterical turn from Keith David as the perfectly named barbarian King Asskill and a great bit from Daveed Diggs as a centaur.

FOX has struggled to find a fourth partner to fill out the time slots in their Animation Domination block, with misfires like “Duncanville” and “Housebroken” being quickly shown the door by uninterested viewers. Maybe they’re just tired of trying and committed to “Krapopolis,” so they don’t have to worry about it for a few years? Or maybe they’re right, and they’ve finally drawn this animated square. It’s too soon to tell after only a trio of episodes, but there’s more reason for hope than there has been with any effort in this timeslot in years. Someone’s prayers may have been answered.

Three episodes were screened for review. "Krapopolis" premieres on Sunday, September 24th with two episodes.

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Managing Editor of RogerEbert.com, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and GQ, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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