Like most people, I have a love/hate relationship with Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. From shows that aggravatingly live on despite the fact they are terrible (Children's Hospital) to shows that deserve way more credit than they receive (Garth Marenghi's Darkplace) the revolving door and endless parade of programs makes one wonder how many times a network can try to recreate the success of Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
I wasn't always a fan of ATHF. In the early going I thought a show with such an aimless plot was below me. But considering some of the trash TV I watch (Two and Half Men) I was merely fooling myself, the show eventually wearing down my defenses. I can't say I enjoy every episode, but I have to give credit where credit is due, that Aqua Teen Hunger Force pretty much forged the Adult Swim brand as we know it. So what does ATHF have to with Xavier: Renegade Angel? As one would expect given the audience it was created for, Xavier is an extension of the irreverent brand of Aqua Teen humor. The same could be about a show like Squidbillies; but where Squidbillies is nothing more than a carbon copy of a successful idea, the same can't be said of Renegade Angel.
Xavier: Renegade Angel opens with the wayward Xavier (a humanoid creature whose body is composed from the parts of a handful of different creatures) wandering through the desert. More often than not, this setting is just an illusion, a metaphor for a wanderer that makes his way from town to town. Not soon after arriving at a given location, a problem presents itself to Xavier who tries to solve it with his inadvertently warped philosophy and self-serving delusions of grandeur. Noble intentions aside, Xavier's "solutions" usually backfire and do more harm than good to the people around him. Blissfully unaware of the damage he's caused, he then rambles on to the next town where a similar yet altogether different series of events will play out once again.
Oblivious as Xavier is about such consequences, there's more to his quest than enlightenment. Early on we learn that Xavier is looking for the person responsible for his father's murder. While it's obvious to the viewer who's to blame from the very first episode, the truth eludes Xavier until the spectacular season one finale. With this mystery "solved," the plot shifts towards the peculiar relationship Xavier had with his mother. It's here where series becomes divided upon itself, as the streamlined focus of the first season disappears in favor of a free-for-all, anything goes approach. In doing this, the second season overloads what was a simple yet effective premise and leaves behind a mass of confusion. The show's greatest sin is when it tries to be more than TV show, a higher form of art and expression. Painful as this is to watch, such a scheme falls flat on its face and the line between art and entertainment is eventually restored.
The mess that is season two aside, I can't stay mad at Xavier. While the second disc of this set rarely meets the tray of my DVD player, the first season is unbelievable with it's crafty wordplay and is more than enough to make up for it. That said, for those who have yet to develop a taste for Adult Swim's type of humor, it's doubtful that Xavier: Renegade Angel will change their minds. For those into odd, off-beat shows however, Xavier may prove to be just the ticket.