One can’t put a price on good television, but if they could, “Moonbeam City” would be worth the entirety of Jordan Belfort’s cocaine budget for 1986.
Moonbeam City is the latest cartoon added to Comedy Central’s Wednesday block. It stars a gaggle of celebrities, including Rob Lowe and Elizabeth Banks. The show takes the best parts of both 1980’s New Wave culture and cop shows to create the television equivalent of an airbrushed Patrick Nagal mural on the side of a 1980 Aerostar Super 700 private jet.
The show follows the exploits of Dazzle Novac, the mug-declared “#1 cop” of glittery metropolis Moonbeam City. Voiced by Rob Lowe, Dazzle is a handsome idiot who goes to any length to solve a case. While there is no lacking of pastel beaches and neon-lit main streets in this city of nouveau minimalism, there is also an excess of crime running amuck through the streets. There’s no real limit when it comes to pushing the boundaries of narrative with Moonbeam City. In the pilot episode (that’s currently free to watch on Comedy Central’s website), Dazzle manages to thwart a notorious drug kingpin using a mall songstress by the name of Aiaiai who’s main focus artistically is singing about “prisms, and coyotes getting married to ghosts.”
It’s not difficult to at first glance see Moonbeam City as a buy-in to the recent 80’s craze, but there’s such a clear attention to detail in the art direction that perfectly emulates both Patrick Nagel and Lisa Frank. Every character is flawlessly rendered in Nagel’s style that has become iconic not only for his cover of Duran Duran’s album “Rio” but his other advertising work as well. In recent years, Nagel’s work has become more synonymous with the window displays for hair salons, but “Moonbeam City” is made with a large amount of respect for Nagel’s aesthetic. At certain points in the show Dazzle’s boss Pizazz, voiced by Elizabeth Banks, becomes serious or angry and the shadows of Venetian blinds show over her face even in environments where that would be impossible.
It’s easy to think “Moonbeam City” is basically a more absurdist Archer in neon. It sticks fully to its aesthetic while thankfully not taking itself too seriously. It’s evident that the creators of the show have a deep love for and complete devotion to the 1980’s new wave look and that the jokes centered around it aren’t coming from a place of ridicule. One can only hope that a DVD box set comes out soon, and it comes with a Member’s Only Jacket (or at least a potted bird of paradise).