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Generic mystery adventures await in “Victor and Valentino”

Wow. Two Cartoon Network shows in a month; usually I try to go for a little variety, but I guess timeliness beats it out this time.

Victor and Valentino just started airing on Cartoon Network yesterday. The show’s pilot aired online in 2016 and was one of the few minis picked up by the network to be a full series. I thought the pilot was fine.

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Valentino (left) and Victor (right)

It just didn’t appeal to me; mostly I found Victor to be extremely grating. The premise was good; I liked the emphasis on Mesoamerican culture and folklore. It adds some much-needed variety to the typical mythical creatures. And there were some promising hints at a larger narrative.

But the series itself?

Other than it’s Mesoamerican focus, it’s pretty generic.

The network already aired five of the available 11-minutes episodes yesterday morning. I can’t say I’m crazy about the airing schedule, but that’s another point entirely. I just don’t think the right way to introduce a show is dumping several episodes out at once.

Aren’t kids supposed to have super short attention spans anyway?

But let’s focus on the show itself. It would be ridiculous to focus on how the show is being presented rather than the show itself.

Victor and Valentino follows the two titular half-brothers while they’re staying with their grandmother in the small town of Monte Macabre, which is full of magical creatures and secrets. No word on what happened to their parents; either they’re dead or the brothers are on vacation.

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The brothers annoy each other

A lot of people have compared it to Disney’s Gravity Falls, but that’s ridiculous. Gravity Falls actually tried to give it’s main trio unique personalities beyond the “responsible” one and the “creative” one.

The brothers arrive in the town, and discover there’s more than meets the eye while making friends with a diverse set of characters who join them on their adventures. Despite the show being fairly episodic so far, I assume it’ll culminate in them:

  1. Stopping the apocalypse
  2. Stopping the destruction of Monte Macabre
  3. Stopping an evil deity from getting to the realm of the living
  4. Some combination of the above.

Now, I think three episodes is good to judge a series normally, but it’s harder with shows like this where episodes are short and released in rapid succession. I slept on Gravity Falls until the show was basically over, and I don’t want to make that mistake again. But, at the time, I’m just not feeling the show.

Unlike the short, the series begins with Victor and Valentino discovering the magical world via a poorly hidden doorway. It isn’t clear how long they’ve been living with their grandmother, but they’re both very suspect of the idea of the supernatural.

Everyone else in town? Less so.

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The boys and their grandmother

And most of the episodes so far have used the supernatural as a backdrop for the siblings learning to get along despite their differences, rather than really exploring the supernatural itself.

Victor is our ‘every man,’ he’s loud, hyperactive, with a short attention span. He’s a terrible speller and pretty gullible. He cares for his brother, but he also wants to look cool, which Valentino is decidedly not.

Valentino, or Val, is overweight but sweet and sensitive. He has more knowledge of the world around him. He’s more cautious, but it also more willing to consider the supernatural than his brother.

This is what really kicks off the plot after Vic breaks the alebrije of HueHue, a god of mischief in the first episode letting him free to wreak havoc.

And this is a decent episode; but as a pilot it really doesn’t lay down the groundwork of the show or really do well to establish the setting. And there’s little indication that it’ll follow one of my favorite ideas of the pilot.

The brothers end up with a luchador mask that allows them to see beyond the “veil” of reality and it implies that their grandmother is involved with the supernatural. It’s clear that the grandmother, Chanta, knows more than she’s letting on and is part mythological being herself, but I cannot stand that weird face and color scheme they use whenever she gets upset.

Is it supposed to be funny?

And the episodes are…very meh. The first episodes literally goes with ‘pranks that hurt people are bad’ plot. There’s little set up and I feel the episode plot is so overdone and is a poor way of setting up the character’s personalities.

Like out of all the possible first episodes, you pick one of the most generic lessons out there… And with a very generic mischief god, who is may be a bit too on the ‘camp gay’ side to be considered PC these days.

And the secondary characters are interesting. Which is good, but they all seem very one-note.

There’s Guillermo who has white hair and speaks in third person but is friendly, CaCao only says his name, Rosa is studious but easily distracted and then there’s Charlene.

Charlene is into dark magic and the occult and has a crush on Vic, which she expresses through teasing and torturing the brothers. Yeah… Maybe she has a good backstory like Helga from Hey Arnold, but this is another character archetype that I thought people were done with.

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Charlene. (At least her design is kind of cool.)

There’s also Pineapple, Charlene’s older brother or friend. The joke is mostly that while he looks intimidating, he’s really into girly stuff. While I understand the humor in the juxtaposition between his demeanor and his hobbies, is that really the best this show could do?

There’s also Xochi, the older girl who befriends the brothers because she likes how they annoy her dad. She seems like the most interesting character, but I’ve seen this character too much and I’ve never understood this archetype either.

There’s not much tying the episodes together other than the characters, so it’s not something I really feel attached to in any way.

It just doesn’t do it for me.

If you liked Hilda and Gravity Falls, you might like this show, but if you decide to put it on the back burner that’s fine. I don’t think you’re missing out on the newest hit.

I think it will be popular among young boys, which is totally fine. But, yeah, this show isn’t my thing. I’ll just be here in my apartment waiting for Infinity Train to air.

But I guess patience is a virtue.

Anyway, that’s the scoop.

…………….

Score: 5/10

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Year of release: 2019

Length: 4 episodes, 11 minutes each

Creator/Executive Producer: Diego Molano

Producers: Abraham Lopez, Casey Alexander (supervising producer)

Directors: Justin Parpan and Josh Parpan (art), Nick DeMayo (animation)

Voices: Diego Molano, Sean-Ryan Petersen, Laura Patalano, Christian Lanz, Daran Norris

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If you liked this, read: ‘Mission Critical’ is a critical failure

3 thoughts on “Generic mystery adventures await in “Victor and Valentino””

  1. I mean, it IS a kid’s show. I think you judge it too harshly. Most kid’s enjoy stuff like this. Gravity falls was complicated for many kids to grasp but for older audiences it was a very interesting and funny story, but just cuz the kids show is made to entertain kids, not some critical adults.

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