MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES premieres next week on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. What is MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES, you may ask? Well, imagine you and your buddies got high, watched a bunch of old episodes of Scooby Doo, and wondered what the show would be like if retired boxer Mike Tyson starred in it. Then, toss in an Oscar-winning screenwriter (who also appears in a zany sitcom), a semi-washed-up comedian who doesn’t always get the respect he deserves, and a bunch of jokes that only an on-drugs college student, possibly an English major, could come up, and you have this show.
Which is why MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES is awesome!
In the animated series, Mike Tyson (who also acted in The Hangover films) voices a version of himself taken to extremes. Mike lives with his adopted, eighteen-year-old, Asian daughter, Yung Hee (Rachel Ramras, Mad), a guy who was turned into a pigeon by his ex-wife and who now goes by the name Pigeon (Norm MacDonald, Saturday Night Live), and a closeted gay, gentleman ghost, Marquess of Queensbury (Jim Rash, Community). They form a team that solves mysteries together, because, why not?
The program is created by Hugh Davidson, who is famous for writing and performing on Robot Chicken. Obviously, Hugh gets some of the random gags from his experience there, but puts together a more cohesive story for this project. What he is doing works extremely well.
I’m not sure exactly why I love MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES so much. It’s part nostalgia, to be sure, as the style and tone references older works for children that I grew up watching. It’s partially the inane sense of humor, often dirty, which Adult Swim is known for. It’s somewhat due to the intelligent references, proving the writer is educated. And it’s just all cleverly woven together, bringing subplots back around full circle and letting even the most insane one-liners actually mean something to the larger picture.
Let me give you an example of this. In the first episode, Mike receives a letter from Pulitzer Prize-winner Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) asking him to help find an ending to his latest book. Mike tosses out a crazy theory as to what the mystery might be, which everyone else scoffs at because it seemingly has no basis in reality. A series of mishaps occur that takes the team to McCarthy’s place, even bringing a second author into the story, and then it all wraps up as Mike predicted, to certain extent. The script isn’t predictable; there aren’t clues connecting point A to point B. But in the end, it all makes a strange kind of sense.
Now, I don’t know if McCarthy voices himself or not, and can’t seem to find confirmation on the internet as of yet. But Mike Tyson, who has had a mixed reputation based on past press coverage, must have a sense of humor about himself to participate in this. The fact that McDonald and Rash, both respectable people, signed up to join him should lend weight to the show, too.
Now, I’m sure MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES is not for everyone. It’s off-the-wall enough that it probably will attract a wide variety of viewers, but not everyone likes their comedy this goofy. It’s far from a traditional family sitcom or a show one can watch with one’s kids. But to a thirty-year-old male critic who watches far too much TV, it tickles the funny bone and strikes me as nearly the most original thing to hit the adult animated scene in years, even with its generous borrowing of other works.
MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES premieres Monday at 10:30 p.m. ET on Cartoon Network.