Fans of this show are probably wondering why it took so long to mention it. (1) I didn’t know there was an official posting of the pilot. (2) It took me a long time to finally check this out. I’ve spent my own time recovering from crisis after crisis the past year, but I could have used this show while I was in the hospital. Which would also be fitting given the show.
While Cartoon Network seems trapped in one style of cartoon to the point that any exceptions (like Transformers: Robots In Disguise or Justice League Action are treated as an afterthought in their schedule) Disney XD is more than willing to bring variety to their lineup. I don’t just mean that they actually have action shows they treat with respect, but that they’re willing to create various kinds of action shows, and some really good ones. Take for example tonight’s offering, Milo Murphy’s Law.
Created by the same team that created the breakout hit Phineas And Ferb, Milo Murphy’s Law follows the title character, a descendant of the first victim of Murphy’s Law. You know, “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. Only in Milo’s case (and his father’s) that goes to insane levels. It doesn’t help that Swamp City is pretty much on the crazy side to being with. This is a town where llama’s perform Shakespeare and the theme park is centered around lard. But the conflict for Milo and his friends Zack Underwood and Melissa Chase is dealing with the crazy fallout of Murphy’s Law. Tonight I am able to bring you the pilot episode as Zack first meets Milo and the crazy life he is about to become part of.
What I really like about this show is how well it uses it’s running gags, from the primary one (Milo’s bad luck) to the smaller ones (his teacher’s obsession with her desk). Even the long running gag about the time agents who need to protect the pistachios (wait until you meet them)…oh yeah, this show will play the long game like a harp. While the show isn’t technically serialized, and most episodes don’t require a certain order to see them, events to come back again. The big one being the “Llama Incident” Milo mentioned on the runaway subway train. That one comes up a number of times throughout the season as we hear minor parts of the aftermath, but we do eventually learn what happened and boy is the payoff worth it! This show is very good at setting up jokes with great payoffs, whether it’s one episode or series long.
The writing itself works. Milo’s “don’t give up” attitude is the heart of show. No matter what happens the gang finds ways to win in the end. There’s also little story moments, like the scene in the sewer where we see Zack come over to Milo’s side metaphorically and physically. There is a strong bond between Milo and his family and friends that just makes you want to see them succeed, and the hilarious way they’ll do so. Every joke, every story beat, just connects almost perfectly, boosted by how strange Swamp City is even without two victims of Murphy’s Law living there.
Then there are the characters. Milo has grown up living under the shadow of Murphy’s Law, which also afflicts his father, so this family has learned to be prepared. In fact, his dad uses his curse positively by working as a safety inspector. (Basically, if your set-up can survive being in the area of Martin Murphy, you have nothing to worry about.) We learn that Milo’s backpack came from the “last babysitter standing” a girl who knew how to protect Milo from his curse and taught him how to pack for every situation. Veronica’s kind of awesome that way. Milo’s mom loves her family and may be in part responsible for Milo’s attitude; not only how he rolls with the punches but how he works to make things easier and sometimes even better for his friends, like the time he saved the prom using his wits and creativity. (It’s one of my favorite episodes as a creative person myself.) He and his sister, Sara, are big fans of The Doctor Zone Files, a send-up of Doctor Who that as the show goes on proves to be closely tied to Milo and gang, and we still don’t know the full story. This is a family that loves and supports each other and that’s always good to see.
Each of the supporting cast has their own quirks but are good characters, but Melissa and Zack, Milo’s closest friends, stand out. Melissa is a veteran of Murphy’s Law (having also survived the Llama Incident), who has shared many adventures with Milo. But don’t ship them. She’s Milo’s biggest supporter but they’re just friends. (I rarely ship but I’m putting Milo and Amanda together.) Zack is the new kid but quickly warms up to Milo and is the more cautious of the trio. It’s a good dynamic that makes their friendship work.
There is no villain in this show. Even Bradley is just mildly annoyed by Milo’s spotlight (and is shown to possibly have a crush on Melissa) while the time travelers Vinnie Dakota and Balthazar Cavendish (voiced by the show’s creators, Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh) are just trying to understand why Milo’s presence usually means a failure of their mission but grow to like the kid, because Milo is just so likeable. The only “villain” is Murphy’s Law itself and how everyone tries to deal with the fallout while still associating with Milo, a good kid with a strong heart and a quick mind for getting out of trouble.
Milo Murphy’s Law is proof they are still making good shows nowadays, and it’s a cartoon that kids and adults can watch together and find something to love about it. And when “main character is voiced by Weird Al Yankovic (who does get to sing, since the creators love their musical numbers and he sings the theme song)” is an afterthought in your review you know it’s a good show. It’s currently airing on Disney XD and I wish I had learned about this show sooner, especially since Murphy’s Law seemed to be going after me recently. It’s a show that should be drowning in a one-note gag but knows how to keep things fresh. Give this show a watch!