The Man in the Mask

Man in the Mask (Promotional Photo)

Delocated

Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD. Season 3 premieres on Adult Swim (Cartoon Network) at midnight on Feb. 2.

 

There's a 1998 segment from Conan O'Brien's earlier show that jokingly reveals a cast of characters Conan writers were working on. Among them is "Kim," a celebrity impressionist who witnessed a mob hit and is now in the Witness Protection Program. "Kim" turns out to be a man in a black ski mask whose voice is permanently distorted, which makes his impressions of Jack Nicholson and Jimmy Stewart sound absurdly robotic and flat.

"Kim" was conceived of and performed by Jon Glaser, then a writer for Conan's show. Now, more than a decade later, that concept is the premise for the series "Delocated" on Adult Swim. Season three premieres on Feb. 2, and seasons one and two come out on DVD on Jan. 17.

A mockumentary-ish show, "Delocated" stars "Jon," a guy in the Witness Protection Program who stars in his own reality show. "Jon" (always notated in quotation marks), is being hunted by the Russian mob, primarily (in the first season) by Yvgeny (Eugene Mirman), a mobster/aspiring alternative comedian whose jokes consist principally of vodka-based punchlines. ("Ask not what your vodka can do for you, but what you can do for your vodka!")

The show is a bit of a satire on reality TV from the perspective of the stars of those shows. "The network," itching for ratings, gives Yvgeny his own reality-show spinoff, and the show's executives make deals with the mob to prolong the series by killing everyone "Jon" knows before killing "Jon" himself.

The sendup, though, is fairly light. "Delocated" is not really cynical. "Jon" is a lovable jerk in a bad situation. His wife leaves him for the CIA agent assigned to protect her (and then leaves that agent for the next, and so on), his reality show is constantly on the verge of being canceled, and his doorman is overeager to be friends with him. Each episode sees "Jon" in a newly bad situation: the local country club wants him to lighten the color of his ski mask, his CIA agent insists on a too-close friendship, his son wants a ska-themed bar mitzvah (a "ska mitzvah"), plagued by bad ska puns.

"Delocated" is thick with comic ingenuity, and repeat viewings are richly rewarded. The music, done by the Adult Swim mega-alums PFFR, is as pretty as it is funny. And while the DVD's extra features (outtakes, deleted scenes) are great, you wish for a little more. Also, there's only a tiny bit of commentary (in which we learn that Glaser and director Jason Woliner are obsessed with, and drop frequent in-show references to, the Who's "Quadrophenia"). But "Delocated" junkies likely will be pleased just to have all of the episodes to watch 12 times each, like I did.

 

bsnyder@hartfordadvocate.com; tweet @briannalsnyder