Move over, Robot Chicken, there’s a new stop-motion animated TV comedy with creepy characters on the horizon, and it stars a bunch of literal baby dolls. AMC unveiled to Collider an exclusive first look at the characters of their upcoming Ultra City Smiths, and they look as hilarious and creepy as you’d expect.
Ultra City Smiths is created by Steve Conrad (Patriot, Perpetual Grace, LTD), and produced by Stoopid Buddy Stoodios (Robot Chicken, Crossing Swords). Conrad himself talked to Collider to explain his upcoming show, and teased at least one musical number.
Conrad describes Ultra City Smiths as “adult entertainment for former children.” The story is set up like a whodunit, with the disappearance of a famous magnate driving the plot of the series, while two literal baby doll detectives follow the case. Conrad description fits right in with other stop-motion animated comedies like Robot Chicken, which uses actual action figures and dolls to create very bizarre and very adult scenarios.
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When asked what movie rating Ultra City Smiths would have, Conrad teased that the show would be rated “R,” but that doesn’t mean that the tone is violent or crude, as the creator says the show has “a broad spectrum of tone” and that they aspired for a tone akin to “a great musical like Oliver or Grease.” This seems to confirm that the show will have some musical element to it, which we didn’t know about before. Conrad further teases this element when he told us that “the two-minute-long musical number in episode one took two months to shoot,” so keep your eyes peeled for that number.
Animation tends to take a long time to make, especially stop-motion animation given the hands-on craft involved. The way Conrad tells it, “it took just under a year to make six episodes” of Ultra City Smiths. Still, even with the arduous process involved in making an animated project, Conrad tells us that the biggest challenge during production was “trying to sleep the night before I directed Tom Waits for the first time,” who serves as the show’s narrator.
Ultra City Smiths features a star-studded cast that includes Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, Alia Shawkat, Terry O’Quinn, Debra Winger, Tim Meadows, Melissa Villaseñor, and Jason Mantzoukas. But the one actor Conrad is looking forward to the most for people to see is John C. Reilly, who plays a character known as “The Disco King of Ultra City.”
The first two episodes of Ultra City Smiths premiere on AMC+ on July 22, with each subsequent episode released weekly on Thursdays. The first season also will air on AMC this fall. You can take a look at the new images and character descriptions below:
GAIL JOHNSON (Da’Vine Joy Randolph): Veteran detective and partner of David Mills. Decorated, calm, no-nonsense. Married to her job to the possible detriment of her family life.
DONELLA PECKER (Kristen Bell): Competent and compassionate government official. Hopes to help Ultra City become a safer place, but first she must deal with her childish husband, Congressman Chris Pecker.
STREET HUSTLER BOY (Damon Herriman): Male prostitute aging out of work. Desperate to find a way to rehabilitate his partner’s ailing health.
LADY ANDREA THE GIANT (Bebe Neuwirth): Former Women’s Heavyweight Wrestling Champion of the World. Dedicated mother who will do anything to protect her child, even if it means wrestling a series of chimps.
LITTLE GRACE (Alia Shawkat): The daughter of Lady Andrea the Giant. Unwittingly embroiled with the wrong people. Must contend with the harshness of this town and solve her predicament against all odds.
CARPENTER K. SMITH (Kurtwood Smith): Ultra City’s Last Bright Hope. Aspiring to make the city a gentler place via his bid for Mayor and his extraordinary wealth. But now no one can find him.
SISTER MARY MARGARET (Melissa Villaseñor): Catholic nun whose charity runs the local men’s shelter. Not what meets the eye.
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“So much of what we set out to do was a new look at female desire and sexuality.”
Rafael Motamayor is an entertainment writer and critic for sites like Collider, Observer, Rotten Tomatoes, /Film, IGN, and more. He specializes in writing about horror and animation, and yearns for the day a good animated horror project comes along so he can combine the two.