Television Noir Invades Adult Swim...Sorta

You can catch the Dr. Rev. Stephen Strange and his cohorts doing their bizarre sideshow exploits at any number of locales throughout the PHX: During First Friday on behind MADE art boutique, at the upcoming Fiesta Bowl block party on New Year's Eve, and even the occasional corporate party.

As of earlier this month, however, Strange's outrageous antics can also be seen on Cartoon Network's late night Adult Swim block of programming, typically between midnight and 4 a.m. (read: the time when insomniacs, shiftless layabout potheads, and unemployed shut-ins usually tune into watch the animated adventures of the Venture Bros. and Aqua Teen Hunger Force).

So did the makers of Robot Chicken or the Squidbillies pluck the P-Town oddity outta relative obscurity to star in their latest 15-minute long epic? 

Not quite.

Strange and his partner Mike Red (trombonist for experimental/jazz/world band Sunorus) are using Adult Swim as the newest outlet for their funky program Television Noir. The pair purchased commercial time through cable provide Cox Communications to air a "nano" version of their 30-minute wacktastic arts/music/comedy show (which aired on local station KAZT last year) compressed into a 60 second blurblet. They've also specifically utilized the same Helvetica-style font that Adult Swim uses for its interstitials and logo.

At $100 a pop for each 60-second spot, it's a cheaper deal than the estimated $330 a week they were forking out to KAZT for a late night 30-minute paid programming slot. Another advantage is that they can select which parts of the Valley get to see the commercials, which right now is limited to just downtown Phoenix and Tempe.

Strange told me they're offsetting costs by using 15 of those seconds to advertise local indie businesses like the Lost Leaf and Electric Lotus Music. The remainder will be filled with the lots of slapstick action, jackass stunts, and over-the-top humor.

Admittedly it's a rather back door way of getting eyeballs to watch their shtick, but all the talking puppets and madcap mayhem seems like a good fit with the kinda shizzle you see on the cable station on a nightly basis.

Take the first episode, for instance, which features fireworks and pratfalls... well as the rather bloody episode number two, which stars the same "talking killer cigarettes" that, uh, "murdered" me last year.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.