Mtv Takes Latest Series To ‘The Maxx’

“The Maxx” succeeds with its edgy, spiky style and disjointed storytelling.

The latest in MTV’s “Oddities” series, which airs tonight at 11:30, is rendered with a certain panache, transmitting a darkly compelling view of animation in the service of visceral fantasy. Indeed, “Maxx,” based on the comic book created by Sam Kieth, has been packaged with a sharp appealing look.

The conceit powering mad “Maxx” casts the protagonist as a violent, hulking homeless man in purple outfit (living out of a cardboard box in the squalid bowels of the big city) who is looked after by a free-lance social worker named Julie, a young woman dressed like an over-the-top call girl. Yet in another reality this large man of the grubby streets is a being battling existential perplexities and nobby, bald, bouncing creatures while protecting Julie.

What is most alluring about “Maxx” is the cagey use of shadow and chiaroscuro, forms bathed in deep penumbra about to rip the unconscious and pounce on flesh.

The recent history of TV cartooning has most nearly been evolution in reverse, that is, a willful drive to primitive and kidlike images, the less accomplished the better. “The Maxx” stakes its claim on reversing the cavemanization of video animation, giving viewers drawings that show more than a passing interest in art and craft. Moreover, where else are you going to get a snippet of the fictional top-10 pop song heard in Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange”?

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