Grimsburg is Fox’s latest foray into animated comedy, bringing a darkly comedic twist to the classic cop procedural. Headed up by showrunner Chadd Gindin (The Cleveland Show) and starring Jon Hamm, the series follows Detective Marvin Flute, a dysfunctional detective who returns to his cursed hometown of Grimsburg to fight crime after suffering a breakdown.
It’s a premises ripe for offbeat humor, blending procedural drama with the kind of rapid-fire gags and pop culture riffs that have become signatures of Fox animated fare like Family Guy. Hamm brings plenty of gravelly-voiced star power to the lead role as Marvin, while the supporting cast features comedy talents like Alan Tudyk, Patton Oswalt and Hamm’s Mad Men co-star Christina Hendricks.
On paper, it sounds like a recipe for the kind of fast-paced, irreverent programming that tends to thrive in Fox’s Sunday night animation block. And with the network already granting an early renewal for Season 2, they seem confident that Grimsburg will find its morbidly comic footing. As viewers, the question is whether this latest animated entry from Fox will end up feeling fresh, or if it’s just gallows humor as usual. Let’s take a closer look at what Grimsburg brings to the table.
A Mixed Bag of Morbid Laughs
When it comes to quality and entertainment value, Grimsburg is something of a mixed bag. At its best, the show delivers plenty of warped humor and strong comedic performances. The rapid-fire joke style often lands, with funny riffs on everything from true crime reenactments to Agatha Christie homages bringing genuine laughs. And the core premise lends itself well to parodying procedural drama tropes through an animated lens.
However, Grimsburg struggles to find a consistent footing across its early episodes. The comedy is inconsistent, with an overreliance on random non-sequiturs and references in place of crafting unique personalities and relationships. And many attempts at shock humor feel like cheap shots instead of clever reinvention.
The characters follow familiar archetypes, from the dysfunctional, substance-abusing detective to the ex-wife with a zany upbringing. While Jon Hamm brings a solid comedic energy to detective Marvin Flute, he never quite evolves past feeling like a one-note caricature. Supporting players like Marvin’s bizarre imaginary skeleton companion Mr. Flesh feel more like transparent attempts at manufactured weirdness than truly inspired creativity.
Where Grimsburg shows glimpses of potential is when it gets past surface-level gags and builds out the world of Grimsburg itself. As a horror-comedy murder playground, the setting has rich possibilities for social satire and genre exploration. When the show embraces stylistic experiments – like Marvin’s avant-garde “mind palace” sequences – it stands apart from standard shock animation.
The key for longevity will be commitment to developing layered stories and relationships to match the graphic sight gags. An early Season 2 renewal shows Fox wants to let these morbid characters grow. And there’s probably enough severed body parts and sly meta-humor to pique viewer curiosity out of the gate. But Grimsburg will need more substance behind its style if it wants to leave a lasting mark.
Macabre Humor with All the Trimmings
When it comes to tone and style, Grimsburg leaves little doubt about the kind of twisted comedy it wants to deliver. This is a show where blood and guts reign supreme, reveling in an unrelenting parade of mutilated corpses and shock gags. Grimsburg is certainly playing to its animation medium by indulging in graphic violence and black humor that would be impossible in live-action.
Much like Fox’s animation staple Family Guy, the jokes fly at a chaotic, rapid-fire clip, with Grimsburg just as eager to land a quick gag about Jeremy Strong’s eccentric acting methods as it is depicting a teenager’s violent chainsaw demise. For viewers with strong stomachs, there’s a go-for-broke quality to the show’s no-holds-barred murder playground that can excite.
But there’s also a risk that relentless attempts to unsettle slide into diminishing returns. By the second or third murder scene framed for laughs, some viewers may simply become numb. And doubling down on blood and guts as a substitute for smarter satire limits Grimsburg from reaching its full potential.
Still, when the comedy does click in these early episodes, there is fun to be had in Grimsburg’s twisted world. A highlight is the Agatha Christie take-off “Murder on the Splurt Express” putting a kooky spin on a classic whodunit scenario. Hamm gets room to play as detective Marvin with old-school hardboiled dialogue. And tapping into familiar storylines like summer camp slasher films shows Grimsburg understands the genres it’s satirizing.
For Grimsburg to stand apart from the animated fray though, the key will be evolving its own distinct personality that’s more than just an attempt to one-up Family Guy’s already-pushed boundaries. Finding that balance between gratuitous gore and ghoulish wit is the challenge. But in Fox’s house of animation, there’s usually an audience hungry for this brand of extreme humor – no matter how bloody the punchlines get.
A Cast That Kills, But Needs More Character
When it comes to characters and performances, Grimsburg is a bit of a mixed bag. The core voice cast, led by Jon Hamm’s hard-drinking Detective Marvin Flute, is full of comedic talent. But the writing often fails to develop the players beyond surface-level sketches and familiar archetypes.
Hamm brings plenty of gravelly bravado to burnt-out Marvin, nailing the Batman-esque growl required for Grimsburg’s resident mess of a detective hero. And the supporting players fill out a collection of quirky oddballs, from Marvin’s sasquatch police chief boss to his news reporter ex-wife raised by wolves.
Standouts among the eclectic cast include Marvin’s cyborg partner Greg Summers, brought to lively robotic life by Kevin Michael Richardson’s voicework, along with Alan Tudyk leaning into full-on kooky mode as imaginary skeleton pal Mr. Flesh. Cameos from Christina Hendricks, Patton Oswalt and other vets also add seasoning.
But for all the outlandish characteristics, few members of the ensemble pop as fully-realized personalities. Marvin’s pathos feels laid on too thick, bogging him down as a one-note sad sack. Other gambits to make characters “weird,” like the ex-wife raised by wolves or Marvin’s awkward tween son and his imaginary skeleton friend, try too hard without enough humor or heart to back them up.
What’s lacking is chemistry – the kind of animated magic that makes bonds between hilariously mismatched personalities feel lived-in, earning big laughs from long-formed relationships. The best classic ensembles, from The Simpsons to Bob’s Burgers, build worlds where everyone from the bitter bartender to the perky pest control mogul bounces off each other with perfectly honed comedic timing. Grimsburg is still searching for those secret ingredients.
That’s not to say the show can’t still come together. Having a second season on the way this early provides room to stretch out and develop the world of Grimsburg and its bizarre inhabitants. But punching up the people behind all that cartoon carnage will be vital to give viewers an irreverent band of misfits worth rooting for.
Comedy Chopped and Screwed
If there’s one element defining Grimsburg’s comedic style, it’s the chaotic, whiplash-inducing pace of its rapid-fire gags. This is a show engineered to bombard viewers with as many quips, cracks, references and riffs per minute as possible, fearing even a single moment without a joke will lose the audience’s interest.
It’s an approach that works well when the writing is sharp. Quick jabs at everything from the shapeshifting genres of Pete Davidson’s love life to cutting asides skewering actorly pretensions land squares on the funny bone. And Grimsburg’s parody of formulaic true crime re-enactments and blowhard detective show conventions can induce legitimate belly laughs.
But just as often, the machine-gun spray of jokes misfires or repeats thin premises to diminishing returns. The writers seem so intent on keeping the punchlines flowing that they struggle to develop the show’s own distinctive voice, instead relying on random non-sequiturs and cameos by the comedy flavor of the month. What passes for cleverness starts to feel like cheap imitation.
Stronger are moments building off Grimsburg’s core premise, like Marvin’s avant-garde “mind palace” sequences functioning as cracked-mirror riffs on the concept of hardboiled detectives unlocking clues through psychic reveries. This type of stylized experimentation with animation form, similar to standout episodes of BoJack Horseman, points to an inventive spirit the rest of the show would benefit from embracing.
It also doesn’t help that the rapid-fire reference humor leans hard into some particularly cringeworthy clunkers. Jokes already feel dated, like hamfisted jabs at Jaime Camil that seem to have time traveled straight out of a discarded Two and a Half Men script. Even meta humor winking at the process, like cracks at ideas “to be filled in in post,” underscores the sense of scripts bloated with placeholder gags.
Of course, for every couple groaners, Grimsburg still produces some genuine laughs, especially when indulging its morbid horror undertones. As a foundation, the strong vocal performances and animated potential remain to build something fresh. But the writers will need to tune out the laugh-chasing desperation to let the show’s real personality shine through.
Building a Playground of Puzzles and Punchlines
As an animated comedy centered around gruesome murder cases, Grimsburg lives or dies on its ability to craft compelling mysteries while keeping the jokes flowing. On the positive side, the show understands and satirizes many of the tropes that make crime procedurals tick, from red herrings to quirky investigator gimmicks. But consistently weaving the humor and drama into a satisfying story resolution remains a work in progress.
When it clicks, Grimsburg’s genre riffs can induce real entertainment, as seen in the Agatha Christie-inspired “Murder on the Splurt Express” putting Marvin’s detective skills to the test. Homages like this bring fresh dimensions to the small-town horror landscape, while giving Hamm room to sink his teeth into hard-boiled detective mode. Clever spins on real-life trends like true crime re-enactments also wring solid laughs from the collisions between life, death and filmed entertainment.
But for every well-constructed mystery plot, there’s another hastily thrown together story that seems to exist only as an excuse for ghastly joke fodder instead of organic development. The show too often relies on morbid non-sequiturs in place of nicely linked clues – a severed head floating by for momentary shock value rather than a key narrative reveal.
These elements reflect Grimsburg’s broader challenge balancing its different aims. While the cases themselves exude potential, especially with such a rich true crime parody playground to explore, the show’s humor doesn’t always mesh organically with the drama. Separately, both elements show promise, but the storytelling rarely fuses them together skillfully enough to satisfy.
With a chance to build over multiple seasons, there’s room for Grimsburg to commit more to the craft of its mystery framework alongside the creepy comedy. Slowing down the pace slightly while fleshing out core story arcs and character journeys could make the crimes and investigations resonate beyond fleeting laughs. For now, both the jokes and the complex cases feel trapped in their own spheres instead of feeding into each other’s narrative energy. But the raw ingredients for a macabre animated treat are all here for the baking.
Visual Gore Galore, But Lacking Flair
When it comes to production values, Grimsburg puts most of its efforts into realizing its main priority: bringing cartoon carnage to gore-drenched life. The animation embraces every opportunity to unleash gruesomely creative death and dismemberment upon the screen, from chainsaw beheadings to victims entombed naked in blocks of ice.
And while the visuals don’t push any envelopes stylistically, they’re solid and polished enough to let the crimson bodily fluids take center stage. There’s also flashes of visual invention during interior segments like Marvin’s avant-garde “mind palace” dream sequences. These moments suggest potential for more adventurous animation that could help Grimsburg stand apart.
But overall, the look of the show remains fairly generic, without as much flair as the top-shelf visual styles exhibited by standouts like Archer and BoJack Horseman. It’s almost as if the animators poured so much effort into realizing heaps of severed body parts frame-by-frame that they didn’t have energy left over for unique character or background design.
Then again, fans flocking to Grimsburg will likely care more about the quantity of blood sprayed across each episode than nuances of stylistic originality. And on that count, the show certainly delivers the gory goods, complemented by solid vocal performances and a willingness to fearlessly mine the darkest corners of black comedy.
For Grimsburg, polish and restraint may well be less important than giving animation fans their fix of no-holds-barred morbid humor. So while the visuals may be more workmanlike than inspired masterpiece, they get the gruesome job done.
Blood, Guts and Growing Pains
Grimsburg arrives dripping with promise, from its macabre small-town premise to a pedigreed creative team and cast. When firing on all cylinders, the show displays shrewd understanding of the animation and true crime genres while landing plenty of warped laughs. But those high points also expose Grimsburg’s shortcomings in living up to its potential.
At its best, the charcoal-black humor and parody of crime show conventions make for a uniquely twisted animated entry. The rubbery animation medium lets the gore and visual gags play at extremes live-action could never attempt. And the vocal cast, led by Jon Hamm’s booze-soaked detective Marvin Flute, adds gravitas to the eccentric characters.
But fundamentals like sharp writing and compelling character development tend to get drowned out by the show’s fixation on R-rated shock value and machine-gun spray of jokes. The pieces are there, but the content rarely gels into a satisfying whole.
Which makes Grimsburg a prime “future potential” case of an intriguing show that hasn’t fully learned to walk, but shows enough early flashes to deserve time to find its footing. The over-the-top animation playground is rife for social satire and genre exploration. And the core ensemble, while still poorly defined, have the makings of demented foils with their own rich chemistry.
Grimsburg just needs to improve the balance of its different aims. Weaving together smarter running character arcs alongside vivid one-off mysteries would add meat without sacrificing the macabre magic. Letting the conversational comedy percolate more naturally instead of hurtling from gag to gag could bolster laughs. And slowing the pace slightly for visual flourishes beyond extreme gore would further distinguish Grimsburg’s animation palette.
The second season renewal bodes well for the show putting in the required growth time. In the end, Grimsburg may just need to accept that it can’t shock the world without first doing the quiet character-building work to make us genuinely care when the cartoon corpses start piling up. Commit to steady nurturing behind the scenes and Grimsburg could blossom into Fox’s next great animated mainstay.
With its proudly twisted sensibilities and charcoal-black humor, Grimsburg shows no fear in courting controversy and raucous laughs. For animation fans with strong stomachs, it mostly delivers on that morbid promise. Yet the show's greater potential lies in balancing its flashy gore with more grounded satire and character depth. If Grimsburg masters that balance, it could become a killer standout. For now, it's a promising case that passes in spades when the crime parody writing clicks, but still needs work fleshing out the world and relationships hiding behind all the blood spray.
- Strong comedic performances from vocal cast like Jon Hamm
- Effective parody of crime procedural tropes and conventions
- Well-realized animated gore and visual shock value
- Clever homages and genre play like Agatha Christie-inspired episode
- Moments of unique style and experimentation with animation form
- Inconsistent writing quality and follow-through on jokes
- Overreliance on non-sequiturs and references over original humor
- Too much emphasis on violence without deeper satire or purpose
- Characters failing to develop beyond superficial quirks
- Mystery plots rarely satisfyingly coherent