UGLY AMERICANS 2.01 ‘Wet Hot Demonic Summer’

The demons create a summer camp to trick Marc into leading them to Leonard's magic mountain.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Wet Hot Demonic Summer"

Writers: Devin Clark & David M. Stern

Director: Aaron Augenblick

After seven months away, "Ugly Americans" returns with a mash up of "Harry Potter" and every '80s film you've ever seen about summer camp.

The opening sequence is particularly effective as Leonard (Randy Pearlstein) recovers his apprentice Lionel (who's almost a dead ringer for Harry) just ahead of a pair of demon assassins who announce that they want an eggroll to go with the the young boy they intend to kill. But unlike Harry Potter, Lionel isn't in store for a life of magic and adventure. Instead, Larry intends to use Lionel as his apprentice and replacement as the new Wizard of Social Services.

Back in hell, the assorted demons realize that they can't reach Leonard or his apprentice behind the protected Mt. Magic. So they come up with an elaborate (if not all that well put together) ruse to bring the one person that Leonard trusts to the edge of Mt. Magic… Marc (Matt Oberg). And to get Marc there, Twayne (Michael-Leon Wooley) tells him that he's going to be the head counselor of the new youth summer camp.

Of the two main plotlines, the Wizards versus Demons is definitely the best. Each of the different wizards and their apprentices are based on popular archetypes from film and TV. But Lionel has almost no powers. In fact, it's revealed that he was born of an egg from Larry which came out his urethra 50 years ago… in a very disgusting flashback sequence. Larry also dumped Lionel off with strangers rather than train or raise him. And in order to reach his full rank as a wizard, Lionel has to undergo a ritual circumcision.

Down below at the hastily christened camp, Marc drags his friends and co-workers along to be his fellow camp counselors. Marc throws himself into the role, but he isn't prepared for his demonic girlfriend, Callie (Natasha Leggero) to embrace her part as the hot girl that everyone wants. She even pulls a "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" on Lionel to entice him off of the mountain.

Along the way, there's a hilarious subplot featuring Frank Grimes (Larry Murphy) getting bethrothed to a female bear and meeting the alpha bear, who introduces himself (via a subtitled growl) with the instant classic line, "I am the Bear King!" Meanwhile, the zombie Randall (Kurt Metzger) leads the rest of the camp counselors into a forced dig on a nearby silver mine. And when the counselors become trapped in a cave in, Randall becomes obsessed with eating the Koala man, Doug in another amusing sequence.

It all culminates within Mt. Magic as the wizards take on the demons in a battle that's actually exciting to watch, before Grimes and his bear tribes arrive and attack both armies. Doug's attempt to escape Randall brings down the mountain and manages to connect the four separate storylines.

Not everything about "Ugly Americans" works, but when it's firing, it can really hit its marks. The magical circumcision DOES make a boy into a wizard at one point, but Lionel decides that he'd rather spend time with Callie than get his foreskin removed. And really, who can blame him? The central weakness of this show is that Marc is not a very good protagonist to hang a story on. He's barely even reactive compared to the other characters and he still won't call the demons out on their evil bulls***.

"Ugly Americans" is worth catching after "Futurama," although I probably wouldn't stay with it without the lead in. As a show, it's good enough to watch. But if you're expecting it to be as  well made as "Archer" or "The Venture Bros." then you may be disappointed.

Crave Online Rating: 6.5 out of 10.