Mission Hill (TV series)
Mission Hill (originally titled The Downtowners) is an American animated television series that ran on The WB from September 24, 1999, to July 16, 2000, and on Adult Swim from July 14 to August 11, 2002. Although 18 episodes were planned, only 13 were produced. The series was put on hiatus by the WB Network after two episodes due to poor ratings. It returned to the WB in the summer of 2000 but was canceled after four additional episodes. The series went on to develop a cult following, thanks to repeated airings of all 13 episodes on Teletoon's Teletoon Unleashed block; Cartoon Network's popular late-night programming block Adult Swim; and Too Funny To Sleep, a late-night programming block on TBS. Mission Hill was formerly known as The Downtowners, although MTV's production of the similarly titled Downtown forced a name change.
The heads of the five main characters. Counter clockwise from bottom left-hand corner: Andy French, Posey Tyler, Kevin French, and Jim Kuback, with Stogie (the dog) in the middle.
|Also known as||The Downtowners (original title)|
|Created by||Bill Oakley|
|Opening theme||"Italian Leather Sofa" by Cake|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Bill Oakley|
|Producer(s)||Colin A.B.V. Lewis|
|Running time||21–23 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Bill Oakley/Josh Weinstein Productions|
Castle Rock Entertainment
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original network||The WB (1999–2000)|
Adult Swim (2002)
|Picture format||4:3 SDTV|
|Original release||September 24, 1999 –|
August 11, 2002
It has also been popular outside of the United States and Canada, receiving broadcasts in Australia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Spain and New Zealand. Stylistically, the series is recognizable for its bright, neon color palette, and features a peculiar mixture of modern animation and traditional "cartoonish" drawings (dashed lines coming from eyes to indicate line of vision, red bolts of lightning around a spot in pain). The style was made to be reminiscent of Warner Bros. cartoons from the 1930s to 1950s, as well as 1960's Hanna-Barbera cartoons. The designs were done by Lauren MacMullan, who cites the comic series Eightball as her source of inspiration for her overall design.
The series was created in 1997 by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, former executive producers of The Simpsons, and the artistic designer was Lauren MacMullan. It features the voices of Wallace Langham, Scott Menville, Brian Posehn, Vicki Lewis, Nick Jameson, Tom Kenny, Herbert Sigüenza, Jane Wiedlin, Tress MacNeille and Lisa Kushell. The theme song is a faster, instrumental version of "Italian Leather Sofa" by Cake.
On June 30, 2020, Bill Oakley announced plans for a spinoff tentatively titled Gus and Wally, which will be set six months after the series' conclusion and will focus on the elderly gay couple who were supporting characters in Mission Hill. It will also be set 6 months after the original series and take in 2000.
Set in the world of teens and 20-somethings, this series follows hip 24-year-old Andy French, whose sheltered suburban teenage brother Kevin moves in with him and his roommates in a big-city loft.
- Andrew "Andy" French (Wallace Langham) – A 24-year-old in his third consecutive "post-college slump year." Andy is an aspiring cartoonist. From the pilot episode to "Unemployment, Part 1," Andy worked at a waterbed store where his boss was a lecherous, short, ill-tempered, foul-mouthed man who frequented strip clubs. From "Unemployment, Part 2" to "Plan 9 from Mission Hill" (and including the unproduced episodes "Supertool" and "Pretty in Pink"), Andy works as an artist at the same advertising agency as Jim. Often bored and mellow, Andy is easily annoyed by his younger brother, Kevin, though it has been shown that Andy does indeed care about him. However, he often has a habit of calling him and others "douchebag".
- Kevin French (Scott Menville) – Andy's 17-year-old nerd brother. Kevin moved in with Andy when his parents left for Wyoming, bringing his sheltered, suburban mindset to Mission Hill. He hopes to attend Yale University, and prides himself on his SAT scores. He has a habit of "bling-blonging," saying "bling blong" over and over again while doing homework to drown out any/all distractions and is prone to heavily overreact to trivial matters.
- James "Jim" Kuback (Brian Posehn) – In his mid-20s, loftmate Jim has been Andy's best friend since high school. He is extremely tall and lanky, with red hair and a beard much like his voice actor, and speaks in a deep, monotone voice. Jim is a genius at all things electronic, whether it's electronic music or computers. He is mellow and able to express a wide variety of sentiments by nuancing the word "Okay." Jim is a high-powered advertising agent who is paid vast amounts of money to alter marketing campaigns to appeal to Generation Y.
- Posey Tyler (Vicki Lewis) – In her mid 20s, Posey, the fourth hippie loftmate, is somewhat a flower child, and very concerned about the health and well-being of her plants. She often gives her vegetables to charity, but gets upset when they are damaged. She often speaks quickly and in a nervous tone.
- Stogie – Andy's pet Golden Retriever, who can apparently stomach anything from alcohol drinks to remote controls. At one point in the series his primary source of food was eating the couch cushions. Posey has stated that "there are dark forces at work within him", in the first episode.
- Gus Duncz (Nick Jameson) – A gay man in his late 60s, he owns a diner in Mission Hill. He is a very large, burly man with a short temper and is married to Wally. According to audio commentary by the producers, Gus is based on Broderick Crawford, though according to the audio commentary for The Simpsons seventh season episode, "Marge Be Not Proud," Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein claim the inspiration for the character was Lawrence Tierney (who voiced the Try-N-Save store detective who catches Bart shoplifting).
- Wally Langford (Tom Kenny) – A gay man in his late 60s, Wally is a projectionist at the local art movie house. He is based on David Niven. He enjoys cinema and ragtime music. In the episode "I Married a Gay Man from Outer Space", it is revealed that he directed a film in the 1950s entitled The Man from Pluto (which parodied Plan 9 from Outer Space). It starred his partner Gus in the title role.
- Natalie Leibowitz-Hernandez (Vicki Lewis) – 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, Natalie and her husband have yet to name their baby as they want it to have cultural significance reflective of their own respective cultures. She is of Jewish religion. She is a working mother who supports both "Baby Nameless" and her non-working "marital partner" Carlos. The character of Natalie was based and modeled on the writer and educator Lois M. Leveen, a longtime friend of the show's creators. She auditioned for the voice of her own character, but the actress Vicki Lewis was determined to be even more "Lois-y" than Lois Leveen herself, and she was cast in the role instead.
- Carlos Hernandez (Herbert Sigüenza) – Late 20s. He is a struggling Latino artist and stay-at-home dad for Baby Nameless. Unlike his wife Natalie, Carlos is a Christian, his work is, at times, reminiscent of Jackson Pollock, Diego Rivera and Bob Ross. He prides himself on having no discernible style. Carlos and Natalie have a pet snake as a result of an episode involving a raid on an animal testing lab.
- Gwen (Jane Wiedlin) – Early 20s. Andy's on-and-off girlfriend, Gwen completed two years of community college before settling in Mission Hill. She met Andy working at Ron's Waterbed World. Someday she'd like to be an accomplished person who achieves her goals and makes a serious contribution to society. She likes The Go-Go's.
- Toby Mundorf (Josh Weinstein) – In his late teens and one of Kevin's best friends in Mission Hill. His overprotective mother worries a great deal about him, as he frequently suffers from allergies, asthma, and hunger. Despite his large size, he is a born coward.
- George Bang (Bill Oakley) – 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. He shares all the same interests as his best friends and is particularly proud of owning the complete Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game. Unlike his friends Toby and Kevin, his parents don't seem to be overprotective, so he is more sarcastic and aggressive than either of them. George has an older sister named Tina who goes to Polytech. George is of Korean descent.
- Ron (Nick Jameson) – A sleazy, immoral Armenian (though the commentary described Ron as being from a country that used to be a part of the Soviet Union, which does include Armenia, but could also be any number of countries from Eastern Europe and Central Asia) man and former boss of Andy (who loathes him). On "Unemployment, Part 1," Ron was arrested for tax evasion and his store was confiscated by the government. He has an extremely short temper and often takes his rage out on his employees.
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Thirteen episodes of the series were produced while five more were written, but never completed. Animatics for some of these episodes were in production at the time of the series' cancellation. It was planned to put these animatics on the DVD for the series, but this never came to fruition. However, several of the animatics—including a completed video animatic and synchronized audio read-through of the episode "Pretty in Pink (Crap Gets in Your Eyes)"—have been released through various internet outlets.
Season 1 (1999–2002)Edit
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.|
"The Douchebag Aspect"
|Lauren MacMullan||Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein||September 24, 1999||3950-01|
Andy French, an aspiring cartoonist working at a waterbed store run by a sleazy, ambiguously Eastern European man named Ron, is forced to take in his annoying little brother, Kevin, after Andy's parents decide to move away to Wyoming and not take Kevin with them.Music: "Burning Flies" by Looper, "Couldn't You Wait" (Acoustic Version) by Silkworm, "Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down" by The Toasters, "Rude Boy Rock" by Lionrock
|2||"Andy Joins the PTA"|
|Gary McCarver||Andrew Kreisberg||May 26, 2002(on Adult Swim)||3950-02|
When Andy attends Kevin's parent-teacher conference en lieu of their mother and father, he joins the PTA in order to impress Kevin's English teacher. Meanwhile, Kevin becomes obsessed with an online role playing game.|
Music: "Machete" by Moby, "Do That Thing" by The Halo Benders, "Major Leagues" by Pavement
"Porno for Pyro"
|Tricia Garcia||J. David Stem & David N. Weiss||October 8, 1999||3950-03|
|Kevin faces a moral dilemma when two bullies (Griffo and C-Dog) get blamed for burning down the Mission Hill market, which was an accident Kevin caused after trying to hide a pornographic magazine after one of the bullies catches him masturbating to it. Meanwhile, Jim returns from Japan wearing Day-Glo short-shorts which becomes popular with everyone (except Andy).|
|4||"Andy Vs. The Real World"|
"The Big-Ass Viacom Lawsuit"
|Christian Roman||Ben Kull||June 9, 2000||3950-04|
Kevin finds a collection of old videos chronicling the time that MTV's The Real World filmed a season in Mission Hill—and how Andy became part of the cast after one of the house mates gets hit by a bus.|
Music: "Ape Self Prevails in Me Still" by Quasi, "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M., "Begin" by Lambchop, "Bad Boys" by Inner Circle "Who's Afraid of Elizabeth Taylor" by Joan of Arc
|5||"Andy and Kevin Make a Friend"|
"One Bang for Two Brothers"
|Mike Kim||Michael Panes||June 25, 2000||3950-05|
Kevin and Andy fight for the affections of George's sister. Meanwhile, Gus gets stabbed in the head and Wally urges him to go to the hospital to have the knife removed. |
Music: "Ape Self Prevails in Me Still" by Quasi, "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M., "Begin" by Lambchop, "Who's Afraid of Elizabeth Taylor" by Joan of Arc, "Sideshow" by The Wake, "Dying Culture" by Wumpscut
|6||"Andy Gets a Promotion"|
"How to Get Head in Business Without Really Trying"
|Dominic Polcino||Michael Panes||July 9, 2000||3950-06|
After having his work rejected by nearly every magazine, Andy decides to abandon his dreams as a cartoonist and become Ron's assistant at the waterbed store, which changes Andy's personality for the worse.|
Music: "Blue Monday" by New Order, "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" by Culture Club, "Le Freak" by Chic
|7||"Kevin Vs. the SAT"|
|Ilya Skorupsky||J. David Stem & David N. Weiss||July 2, 2000||3950-07|
|Kevin and his friends work furiously to crack the code for perfect scores on the SATs after learning that Ivy League schools aren't accepting students unless they have perfect SAT scores (800 Math, 800 Verbal) or are involved in extracurricular activities. Meanwhile, Posey advertises her massage services in a newspaper—which lands her in trouble with a local pimp.|
|8||"Unemployment: Part 1"|
"Brother's Big Boner"
|Scott Alberts||Robin Stein||July 16, 2000||3950-08|
Andy, who just blew his parents' $400 living allowance on an organ in a desperate attempt to have fun without getting drunk or having sex, finds himself unemployed when Ron gets arrested for tax evasion and the waterbed store is seized by the government. When Andy can't hold down a job, Kevin goes to Ron to sign a form that activates Andy's unemployment payment—and becomes the owner of Ron's Ferraro.|
Music: "Sundown" by Gordon Lightfoot, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly
|9||"Unemployment: Part 2"|
"Theory of the Leisure Ass"
|Michael Dante DiMartino||Aaron Ehasz||July 14, 2002(on Adult Swim)||3950-09|
After weeks of staying at home eating Bugles and getting drunk, Andy discovers that Jim has a job—as a high-ranking executive of an advertising agency and decides to stop being a slacker and get back in the work force.|
Music: "Supermarket" by Clemek (from the Run Lola Run soundtrack), "The Spark that Bled" by The Flaming Lips, "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton, "Urban Gentleman" by The Jim Ruiz Group
|10||"Kevin Finds Love"|
"Hot for Weirdie"
|Cynthia Wells||Dan McGrath||July 21, 2002(on Adult Swim)||3950-10|
Kevin asks out Eunice Eulmeyer (guest voice Jennifer Jason Leigh), the weirdest girl at his school, in the hopes that her famous scientist father will write him a letter of recommendation for Yale University. Meanwhile, Andy, Jim, and Posey are denied admission to a new nightclub, prompting them to create their own nightclub.|
Music: "Yo Yo" by Basement Jaxx, "Phalanx" by Jega, "Yakety Sax", "Breaking the Law" by Judas Priest
|11||"Stories of Hope and Forgiveness"|
"Day of the Jackass"
|Christian Roman||Dan McGrath||July 28, 2002(on Adult Swim)||3950-11|
Andy is asked to the Grammys by actress Becca Michelle Butterfield; Posey meditates in an attempt to find nirvana; and Kevin gets involved in a protest when news of an international crisis hits.|
Music: "Arctic Cat" by The Gloria Record
|12||"Happy Birthday, Kevin"|
"Happy Birthday, Douchebag"
|Mike Kim||Rob Schwartz & Rich Siegel||August 4, 2002(on Adult Swim)||3950-12|
Kevin's birthday is coming up, and, now that he's not at home with his family, he becomes depressed and miserable. Meanwhile, Natalie brings home a boa constrictor from an animal testing raid, and Carlos worries that the boa constrictor will attack their baby.|
Music: "Unsung" by Helmet, "Everloving" by Moby, "Cherry Pie" by Warrant.
|13||"Plan 9 from Mission Hill"|
"I Married a Gay Man from Outer Space"
|Jim Shellhorn||Dan McGrath||August 11, 2002(on Adult Swim)||3950-13|
Series finale. Kevin becomes fascinated with classic films when he sneaks into a local theater to watch Midnight Cowboy under the assumption that it's a porno film because of its "X" rating—and uncovers a lost B-movie that Wally directed in the 1950s.|
Music: *"Everybody's Talkin'" by Harry Nilsson, "Midnight Cowboy" by John Barry, György Ligeti's "Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo Sprano, two mixed choirs and orchestra" as performed by the Bavarian radio orchestra and conducted by Francis Travis is played as Kevin watches the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
|14||"Meditations on a Career in Advertising (or Supertool)"||3950-14|
|Andy and Jim work together on the "Chef-A-Rooni" account at the ad agency, but Jim ends up getting credit for it. Meanwhile, Kevin, Toby, and George buy an upscale Port-A-Potty after thugs Griffo, C-Dog, and Phat Ass take over the boys' room.|
|15||"To Grandmother's House We Go (or Freaky Weekend in the Crappy Crudwagon)"||3950-15|
Andy, Kevin, Jim, and Posey take a road trip on Memorial Day Weekend to Andy and Kevin's grandmother's house, but Andy locks Kevin in the trunk. Eventually, an argument breaks out between Andy, Posey and Kevin about whether or not they should go to an Indian casino, the boy’s grandmother's house or a large field of sunflowers. Meanwhile, Gus and Wally take care of Stogie.Music: "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club is the only known song used in the episode, as an animatic clip on the Internet featuring what would have been the actual soundtrack is used. The rest of the animatic has not been released to the public. The script does mention a lot of 1980s songs being used as all the radio stations are playing 1980s music during the three-day weekend.
|16||"Pretty in Pink (or Crap Gets in Your Eyes)"||3950-16|
|Andy and Gwen's relationship goes through a rocky period after Gwen breaks up with Andy and Andy drunkenly sleeps with Jim's assistant, Stacie, who loves Jim and also only slept with Andy because she was drunk.|
|17||"Death of a Yale Man (or Premature Metriculation)"||3950-17|
|Toby and George think Kevin is dying after he comes to school bald (which was from Kevin trying to get rid of a bad haircut) and decide to ask the head of Yale University to let Kevin in as his final wish. Meanwhile, Andy and Jim fight back against yuppie SUV drivers who keep cutting them off in traffic.|
|18||"Bye Bye Nerdy (or I Was a Teenage Porn Star)"||3950-18|
|Kevin accidentally appears in the background of a porno movie being filmed in the building. When his parents discover this, they force Kevin to move with them to Wyoming, only to find out that having Kevin around is killing their romance.|
The series takes place in a district called Mission Hill. Mission Hill is a diverse neighborhood in a much larger city called Cosmopolis. Cosmopolis is depicted as a large modern urban metropolis similar to New York City or Chicago. The official website states Mission Hill is a mix of Mission Hill in Boston (only miles away from where creator Bill Oakley went to college), Mission District in San Francisco, Silver Lake in Los Angeles, Wicker Park in Chicago, and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. The exact location of Cosmopolis has never been revealed, as it is a mix of East and West Coast cities. Most of the series takes place in the neighborhood of Mission Hill, although the skyscrapers of Downtown Cosmopolis are seen in the background. In the DVD commentaries, Josh Weinstein says that a large portion of the development of the series was spent developing Mission Hill into a functional, albeit fictional, city. Writers and animators worked together to create fictional advertisements, bands, foods, and even bus schedules. Boston, MA has a neighborhood called Mission Hill in the Roxbury section of the city which bears many similarities to its fictional counterpart.
Warner Home Video released all 13 completed episodes on DVD on November 29, 2005. The collection replaced some of the original soundtracks with stock music, most glaringly "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M. in the episode "Andy Vs. The Real World". The DVD collection also dubbed over some of the original voice tracks to remove any references to the replaced music, for example changing Andy's voice track from saying "Gordon Lightfoot" to "Scott Joplin" in the episode "Unemployment Part 1".
Mission Hill received the 2000 Pulcinella Award for "Best Series for All Audiences"; the award cited the series' "stylized design and honest approach to sexual and moral issues."
The series won an award from GLAAD for its positive portrayal of a gay relationship.
- "Warner Renames The Downtowners". Animation World Magazine. Animation World Network. September 1999. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 399–400. ISBN 978-1538103739.
- Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. p. 554. ISBN 978-1476665993.
- White, Peter (June 30, 2020). "Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein Plot Spin-Off of Cult Animated Series 'Mission Hill'". Deadline.com. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
- https://twitter.com/thatbilloakley/status/2150587298750464[dead link]
- https://twitter.com/thatbilloakley/status/2150853913870336[dead link]
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