Genre: Comedy, slice-of-life
Studio: Bill Oakley/Josh Weinstein Productions
Running Time: 22 minutes per episode
Number of Episodes: 13
Aired: 24 September 1999 – 11 August 2002
Meet Andy French, a 24-year-old captivatingly lazy guy. Together with his nerdy teenage brother Kevin, he lives in a big city loft. However, these two new roommates couldn’t be more polar opposite: Andy can never seem to settle on a particular job or girlfriend, while Kevin never gets anything lower than an A in school nor does he get a girlfriend. The show takes place in the fictional city of Cosmopolis’s equally fictional neighbourhood of Mission Hill. It’s a diverse place with interesting people living in it. Fellow roommates include Posey Tyler, the capricious girl who hides a secret dark side, and Andy’s mellow best friend Jim Kuback who’s well-connected to the hip downtown scene and has a luxurious job. Across the hall are Natalie, Carlos and their baby. Carlos is a painter, while Natalie is a professor. Next door are Gus and Wally, a gay couple in their 60s.
I have loved this series since I first watched the pilot way back in 2000. Unfortunately, like a lot of really good shows on television, Mission Hill was cancelled after having only aired six episodes. Since then, Mission Hill has garnered a cult following thanks to repeat airings from various television networks and due to DVD sales. I finally got to watch all 13 episodes after acquiring the DVD box-set and I can’t for the life of me figure out why in the hell this awesome show was cancelled in the first place. I mean, it’s a slice-of-life show aimed at adults, and as such it has many themes including, sex, gay coupling (the show won an award from GLAAD for its positive portrayal of a gay relationship) as well as various moral issues. Most of the time the humour is smart and witty with well-constructed plot-lines and episodes that keep the viewer glued to the screen. The characters are diverse and interesting and all have their own back stories that the show eventually touches upon and this makes for a very enjoyable and fulfilling television experience. Mission Hill has received several awards, a cult following and has been popular around the world, so are these the ingredients that will earn your show a wonderful ‘cancellation fuck-you’?
The show was created by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, former executive producers of The Simpsons, and the artistic designer was Lauren MacMullan. Perhaps the network big wigs thought that this series would follow the success of the aforementioned Simpsons? For me personally, I’m glad it didn’t. Mission Hill is a vastly superior series in every conceivable way, with originality and style that The Simpsons can never hope to match. Then again, Mission Hill is aimed for a smarter demographic as well as appealing to the various sub-cultures that exist (geeks, artists, stoners and so on) whereas The Simpsons is a cash-cow whore that lacks plot, sophistication and screams mediocrity. Another noteworthy aspect of Mission Hill is the artwork, it’s bright and vivid, using thick stylized frames and borders that make for a wonderful visual experience. Do yourself a favour, if you’re looking for a smart and humorous animated sitcom, make it Mission Hill.
He’s a wanna-be cartoonist living in a hip neighbourhood called Mission Hill. Andy’s all about cheap liquor, bad snacks and good parties.
A geeky high school student, Kevin’s purpose in life is not to make Andy miserable. It just seems that way.
Andy’s best friend. Jim is a laid-back guy who eats constantly, talks slow and drives a beat-up car called The Bilgemobile.
Posey’s a modern flower child (and space case) who’s into auras, chakras and growing organic vegetables on the loft roof. Beware of her evil side.
Andy’s dog. He’s a slobbery mutt who eats furniture and drinks malt liquor. Stogie’s definitely not the world’s smartest animal. He’s not even the world’s smartest mineral.
Neighbours and Friends
Late 60s. Gus lives across the hall with Wally, his lover of forty years. A relationship ruled by passion, Gus and Wally can often be heard bickering loudly, or making up loudly. Gus is similar to “The Thing” from the Fantastic Four, but instead of being made out of bricks he is flesh and blood, and instead of having superpowers he is a gay man who runs a diner.
Late 60s. Aside from being Gus’ longtime live-in lover, Wally is a projectionist at the local art movie house. He enjoys “cinema”, ragtime music, David Niven, honesty, neatness, kind people and, most of all, Gus. Although nervous, whiney, self-effacing and argumentative, Wally’s very easy to get along with unless you’ve been living with him for forty years.
Late 20s. Politically correct and intellectually well-endowed, Natalie is a professor of Women’s Studies at the local college. Sensitive to biases in our culture, she refuses to name her newborn baby so as not to assign it a preconceived gender stereotype. She is a working mother who supports both “Baby Nameless” and her non-working “marital partner” Carlos.
Late 20s. He is a struggling artist and stay-at-home dad for Baby Nameless. Unlike his wife Natalie, Carlos likes to get drunk, eat junk food and sleep late. Although his most recent painting was made from the cream filling of Twinkies, his work is, at times, reminiscent of Jackson Pollack, Diego Rivera and Bob Ross. He prides himself on having no discernible style.
9 months. Hyper-active and mischievous, Baby Nameless has inherited its father’s love of a good sugar high. One thing is certain about Baby Nameless Leibowitz-Hernandez Hernandez-Leibowitz: for a kid with no name, the kid’s got a helluva long name.
Early 20s. Andy’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, Gwen completed two years of community college before settling in Mission Hill, which she describes as “bitchin'”. She met Andy working at Ron’s Waterbed World, and soon determined that he too was bitchin’. Someday she’d like to be an accomplished person who achieves her goals and makes a serious contribution to society but as what, she hasn’t a clue. Until then, she’s gonna have a bitchin’ good time!
17. One of Kevin’s best friends in Mission Hill. Toby is extremely tall and fat for his age. His overprotective mother worries a great deal about him, as he frequently suffers from allergies, asthma, and hunger. A born pacifist, Toby responds to taunting from his peers by either running away or crying.
17. Kevin’s other best friend. George works long hours after school in his father’s market. George is extremely competitive in everything from taking tests to playing video games, and will often burst into tears if he loses. He shares all the same interests as his best friends and is particularly proud of owning the complete Babylon 5 collectible card game.
Resolution – 1600 x 1200