We Did Not Need "Letterkenny Babies"
Littlekenny: Season 1
Although I have had my issues with the latter seasons of Letterkenny (not really enjoying either Season 7 or Season 8 for a whole host of reasons), I do still hope that the show is able to find its feet. At it's core its just a show about farm guys (and the other "cliques" in town) hanging out, drinking and talking all sarcastic. As I've noted in the past, it's like a Kevin Smith show but instead of Mallrats its Hicks and Skids. I can get behind that kind of writing (as I used to love the early Kevin Smith films).
But there is a clear signal that the show has spread itself too thin as between all the various "associated" projects, it feels like the creators/writers of the show don't have the time to devote to make sure their product is as good as it should be (not and still crank out two, seven-episode seasons a year). There's the main show, yes, and the live-show they do on tour, but the biggest warning flag about the quality, and life, of the series is Littlekenny, a short-form animated series that takes a look at the characters back when they were in elementary school, and it's awful.
I don't have an issue with Letterkenny going animated. One of my favorite shows of all time is the (sadly short-lived) Clerks. That show is an irreverent spin-off of the main "View Askewniverse" and manages to maintain it's humorous, whacked-out sensibilities through its six-episodes. I know some fans of Kevin Smith's work don't like the cartoon -- it doesn't have any cussing in it, as it was aired on ABC originally, and it's very different in tone from the movies -- but I enjoyed it for what it tried to do. Plus, it's really funny. Being really funny can patch over a lot in my books.
I think that's the first hurdle Littlekenny stumbles on: it's just not funny. Honestly, the whole concept of the show is more awkward than amusing, as we have child-versions of all the cast doing the same things they do as adults: standing around, chatting at the camera, and making crass jokes. But where that format works for the adults -- the joy of watching them roll words around in their mouths and crack foul jokes while also being erudite -- it completely falls apart for kids. Kids cussing can be amusing but having them talk about sex and poop and boners, even over a very short 15 minutes for all six episodes combined, is uncomfortable at least and painful most of the time.
When watching the show I had to wonder what the point of all this was. Who sat there and thought, "you know what we really need on Letterkenny? Little kids!" This is like when people pitch a prequel so we can "learn about where our heroes came from", except we already know where these guys came from. They've been friends since forever, and whether that means high school or elementary school, it's still the same difference. They still hang out on the farm, they still so "choring", and then still talk at a fast patter while trying to crack jokes. The only thing that's different about them is that they're little kids.
The show really wants us to get invested in these origin stories. They want us to see the time that Wayne and Daryl meet -- it was at school -- or when Dan joined their group -- it was at school, big surprise. Big events referenced in the first season of the show, like Daryl's Super Soft Birthday Party, start here but instead of actually showing up the "why" of it all, we just have the kids suddenly at a part with a pony and lots of ribbon. The show doesn't actually explain anything about their past, it just references the moments that already came before without actually contributing anything to it. Since we're already told the Daryl has had these birthday parties since he was a little kid, showing us one of them without context adds nothing to our understanding. It's just a callback without meaning.
And, as noted, the writing itself isn't funny. A big reason for that is that it seems the creators of this web-series felt that just making the characters into kids was innovation enough. Other than that one change, everything about the show is just a reference to what came before. There's no evolution, no addition, just a web-series remaking scenes and referencing past jokes as if to say, "hey, we're doing this thing. That's funny, right?" It is not because part of humor is the surprise of it and there's nothing surprising about a show doing the same old jokes it's already done a number of times.
Adding to that is the fact that the child-characters on the show sound grating. To play the kid versions of their main characters, the main cast -- Jared Keeso as Wayne, Nathan Dales of Daryl, and K. Trevor Wilson as Squirrely Dan, along with other side characters (and noting the conspicuous absence of Katy actress Michelle Mylett who was, hopefully, too good for this web-series) -- put on falsetto voices and talk with lisping stutters. The high-pitched voices I get, even if they do sound grating. The lisps and stutters, though, make no sense as every child in the series talks with one. A child having a lisp or stutter that they get over by the time they are adults makes sense. Having all the children in this town talk with the same lisping-stutter it stupid. It doesn't make sense, but it's also hugely annoying to listen to.
And then there's the animation. Despite Letterkenny being a huge success, bought from Crave TV by Hulu and launching not only the continuing main series by also the successful touring live-show, this animated product feels beyond cheap. The animation quality is laughably bad, like a flash animation from the late 1990s before people figured out how to be artistic about that style of animation. Characters are drawn in an overly simplistic style with barely any animation, and what animation exists is simplistic to a fault. This is a show that manages to be both an assault on the eyes and the ears, as well as being just stupefyingly bad in all other respects.
Officially this web-series could come back for a second season -- it was billed as an origin story, but there's been no decision on whether to do a second season or not. Fans seem mixed Online about the show, but the critical consensus is... non existent. Seriously, there aren't even enough reviews for Littlekenny to warrant a Rotten Tomatoes score (note: that requires six or more reviews), which I guess should be expected for a "season" of a show that is shorter than a whole episode of the main series.
I just have to hope the producers don't decide to make another season of this because, my god, this was a train-wreck. It's hard to expect much for a show like this, a little web-filler that's just there to mark time between main seasons of the show. And the recent seasons, as noted, having exactly been my cup of tea, and yet even they were better than this dreck. Whatever happens for Littlekenny in the future, I can assure you that the 500 kids at Littlekenny school, and all their problems, aren't worth watching.