God, the Devil and Bob (January 27/05)
God, the Devil and Bob is the latest failed television show to get a second chance on DVD, after a disastrous run on NBC a few years ago. The network aired all of four episodes before pulling the plug, even though 13 were finished and ready for air. This two-disc set collects every episode of the now-defunct series, making it an ideal purchase for fans - though be warned, this is certainly no Simpsons or Family Guy.
The admittedly bizarre premise involves a lazy auto worker named Bob Alman (voiced by French Stewart) who finds himself in the middle of a bet between God (James Garner) and the Devil (Alan Cumming). God has pledged to destroy the world and start over unless Bob can prove that humanity is worth saving, something that Bob accomplishes in the first episode. The rest of the twelve episodes follow Bob's attempts to remain sane as both God and the Devil attempt to use him for their own purposes.
God, the Devil and Bob is the kind of show that's generally entertaining, but somewhat underwhelming in terms of the amount of jokes that are actually funny. The series feels more like an animated sitcom than anything else, complete with the kind of punchlines one might expect on an episode of Yes, Dear or According to Jim. Unlike its cartoon forebearers, God, the Devil and Bob keeps the pop-culture references and absurd cut-aways to an absolute minimum - choosing instead to focus on Bob's unusual situation, and how it affects his family and friends.
Of course, this being an animated show, there are still a number of bizarre, this-could-only-happen-in-a-cartoon type of moments (which is to be expected out of a series featuring God and the Devil as recurring characters). As a result, most episodes find Bob involved in one outlandish situation or another - ie Bob stumbles upon the Devil's palm pilot and discovers it contains the final scores for yet-to-occur sporting events - but the show is generally content to exist as a sitcom that just happens to be animated. The voice work certainly ensures that the show is a cut above the rest, with James Garner, Alan Cumming, and French Stewart all delivering surprisingly effective performances.