By Curt Wagner
5:31 PM CDT, June 29, 2011
In an animated world where demons, robots, zombies, Koala bears, fish (with legs and feet) and wizards live side by side with humans, you'd have to expect a Harry Potter send-up.
But "Wet Hot Demonic Summer," the second season premiere of "Ugly Americans" (9:30 p.m. Thursday, Comedy Central; *** stars out of 4) is much more than that. (Can't you tell from the title?)
Set in an alternate reality, "Ugly Americans" follows Department of Integration social worker Mark Lilly (voiced by Matt Oberg) and his creature colleagues, Twayne (Michael-Leon Wooley), Callie Maggotbone (Natasha Leggero) and Leonard Powers (Randy Pearlstein) as they help new citizens—both human and others—adapt to life in New York City.
In the premiere, drunken wizard Leonard sends his henchman to kidnap a boy named Lionel from his parents, who run a Chinese restaurant, in order to train him in the ways of wizardry.
"We're here for the boy," the men tell his mother, "and an egg roll."
Now I think that's funny, as is the fact that whiny Lionel looks an awful lot like Harry Potter. After the wizard and his apprentice arrive at a secret wizard compound called Mt. Magic, we learn that demons Twayne and Callie are plotting to infiltrate the compound.
Their plot hits some road bumps, not the least of which involves building a summer camp near the wizards and convincing Mark and his buddies to be camp counselors in the hopes Mark will accidentally lure Leonard away from the other wizards. Mark and his pals soon learn "Camp Friendship" isn't all campfire songs, crafts and "horny teen girls up for anything," as Mark's zombie roommate, Randall (Kurt Metzger), says.
Creator Devon Clark and Co. toss in enough visual pizzazz, pop culture references and so-fast-you'll-miss-them jokes that episodes often require multiple viewings. For example, you might be laughing so hard at what just happened that you miss a fun line where one demon bent on killing all the wizards says to his army: "Remember, whoever kills the most wizards gets a free breakfast at Denny's."
"Ugly Americans" can be gross and bizarre, but everything makes sense in the world that it has created.
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