Mission Hill (originally titled The Downtowners) is an American animated television series that ran on The WB from September 24, 1999, to July 16, 2000, and on Adult Swim from July 14 to August 11, 2002. Although 18 episodes were planned, only 13 were produced. The show was put on hiatus by the WB Network after two episodes due to poor ratings. It returned to the WB in the summer of 2000 but was canceled after four additional episodes. The show went on to develop a cult following, thanks to repeated airings of all 13 episodes on Teletoon's Teletoon Unleashed block; Cartoon Network's popular late night programming block Adult Swim; and Too Funny To Sleep, a late night programming block on TBS. Mission Hill was formerly known as The Downtowners, although MTV's production of the similarly titled Downtown forced a name change.
It has also been popular outside of the United States and Canada, receiving broadcasts in Australia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Spain and New Zealand. Stylistically, the series is recognizable for its bright, neon color palette, and features a peculiar mixture of modern animation and traditional "cartoonish" drawings (dashed lines coming from eyes to indicate line of vision, red bolts of lightning around a spot in pain). The style was made to be reminiscent of Warner Bros. cartoons from the 1930s to 1950s, as well as 1960's Hanna-Barbera cartoons. The designs were done by Lauren MacMullan, who cites the comic series Eightball as her source of inspiration for her overall design.
The show was created in 1997 by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, former executive producers of The Simpsons, and the artistic designer was Lauren MacMullan. It features the voices of Wallace Langham, Scott Menville, Brian Posehn, Vicki Lewis, Nick Jameson, Tom Kenny, Herbert Siguenza, Jane Wiedlin, Tress MacNeille and Lisa Kushell. The theme song is a faster, instrumental version of "Italian Leather Sofa" by Cake.
The heads of the five main characters. Counter clockwise from bottom left-hand corner: Andy French, Posey Tyler, Kevin French, and Jim Kuback, with Stogie (the dog) in the middle.
|Also known as||The Downtowners (original title)|
|Created by||Bill Oakley|
|Opening theme||"Italian Leather Sofa" by Cake|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Bill Oakley|
|Producer(s)||Colin A.B.V. Lewis|
|Running time||21–23 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Film Roman|
Bill Oakley/Josh Weinstein Productions
Castle Rock Entertainment
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television|
|Original network||The WB (1999–2000)|
Adult Swim (2002)
|Picture format||4:3 SDTV|
|Original release||September 24, 1999 –|
August 11, 2002
Set in the world of teens and 20-somethings, this series follows hip 24-year-old Andy French, whose sheltered suburban teenage brother Kevin moves in with him and his roommates in a big-city loft.
Thirteen episodes of the show were produced while five more were written, but never completed. Animatics for some of these episodes were in production at the time of the show's cancellation. It was planned to put these animatics on the DVD for the series, but this never came to fruition. However, several of the animatics—including a completed video animatic and synchronized audio read-through of the episode "Pretty in Pink (Crap Gets in Your Eyes)"—have been released through various internet outlets.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.|
|1||"Pilot (or The Douchebag Aspect)"||Lauren MacMullan||Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein||September 24, 1999||3950-01|
Andy French, an aspiring cartoonist working at a waterbed store run by a sleazy, ambiguously Eastern European man named Ron, is forced to take in his annoying little brother, Kevin, after Andy's parents decide to move away to Wyoming and not take Kevin with them.Music: "Burning Flies" by Looper, "Couldn't You Wait" (Acoustic Version) by Silkworm, "Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down" by The Toasters, "Rude Boy Rock" by Lionrock
|2||"Andy Joins the PTA (or Great Sexpectations)"||Gary McCarver||Andrew Kreisberg||May 26, 2002 (on Adult Swim)||3950-02|
When Andy attends Kevin's parent-teacher conference en lieu of their mother and father, he joins the PTA in order to impress Kevin's English teacher. Meanwhile, Kevin becomes obsessed with an online role playing game.|
Music: "Machete" by Moby, "Do That Thing" by The Halo Benders, "Major Leagues" by Pavement
|3||"Kevin's Problem (or Porno for Pyro)"||Tricia Garcia||J. David Stem & David N. Weiss||October 8, 1999||3950-03|
|Kevin faces a moral dilemma when two bullies (Griffo and C-Dog) get blamed for burning down the Mission Hill market, which was an accident Kevin caused after trying to hide a pornographic magazine after one of the bullies catches him masturbating to it. Meanwhile, Jim returns from Japan wearing Day-Glo short-shorts which becomes popular with everyone (except Andy).|
|4||"Andy Vs. The Real World (or The Big-Ass Viacom Lawsuit)"||Christian Roman||Ben Kull||June 9, 2000||3950-04|
Kevin finds a collection of old videos chronicling the time that MTV's The Real World filmed a season in Mission Hill—and how Andy became part of the cast after one of the house mates gets hit by a bus.|
Music: "Ape Self Prevails in Me Still" by Quasi, "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M., "Begin" by Lambchop, "Bad Boys" by Inner Circle "Who's Afraid of Elizabeth Taylor" by Joan of Arc
|5||"Andy and Kevin Make a Friend (or One Bang for Two Brothers)"||Mike Kim||Michael Panes||June 25, 2000||3950-05|
Kevin and Andy fight for the affections of George's sister. Meanwhile, Gus gets stabbed in the head and Wally urges him to go to the hospital to have the knife removed. |
Music: "Ape Self Prevails in Me Still" by Quasi, "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M., "Begin" by Lambchop, "Who's Afraid of Elizabeth Taylor" by Joan of Arc, "Sideshow" by The Wake, "Dying Culture" by Wumpscut
|6||"Andy Gets a Promotion (or How to Get Head in Business Without Really Trying)"||Dominic Polcino||Michael Panes||July 9, 2000||3950-06|
After having his work rejected by nearly every magazine, Andy decides to abandon his dreams as a cartoonist and become Ron's assistant at the waterbed store, which changes Andy's personality for the worse.|
Music: "Blue Monday" by New Order, "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" by Culture Club, "Le Freak" by Chic
|7||"Kevin Vs. the SAT (or Nocturnal Admissions)"||Ilya Skorupsky||J. David Stem & David N. Weiss||July 2, 2000||3950-07|
|Kevin and his friends work furiously to crack the code for perfect scores on the SATs after learning that Ivy League schools aren't accepting students unless they have perfect SAT scores (800 Math, 800 Verbal) or are involved in extracurricular activities. Meanwhile, Posey advertises her massage services in a newspaper—which lands her in trouble with a local pimp.|
|8||"Unemployment Part 1 (or Brother's Big Boner)"||Scott Alberts||Robin Stein||July 16, 2000||3950-08|
Andy, who just blew his parents' $400 living allowance on an organ in a desperate attempt to have fun without getting drunk or having sex, finds himself unemployed when Ron gets arrested for tax evasion and the waterbed store is seized by the government. When Andy can't hold down a job, Kevin goes to Ron to sign a form that activates Andy's unemployment payment—and becomes the owner of Ron's Ferraro.|
Music: "Sundown" by Gordon Lightfoot, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly
|9||"Unemployment Part 2 (or Theory of the Leisure Ass)"||Michael Dante DiMartino||Aaron Ehasz||July 14, 2002 (on Adult Swim)||3950-09|
After weeks of staying at home eating Bugles and getting drunk, Andy discovers that Jim has a job—as a high-ranking executive of an advertising agency and decides to stop being a slacker and get back in the work force.|
Music: "Supermarket" by Clemek (from the Run Lola Run soundtrack), "The Spark that Bled" by The Flaming Lips, "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton, "Urban Gentleman" by The Jim Ruiz Group
|10||"Kevin Finds Love (or Hot for Weirdie)"||Cynthia Wells||Dan McGrath||July 21, 2002 (on Adult Swim)||3950-10|
Kevin asks out Eunice Eulmeyer (guest voice Jennifer Jason Leigh), the weirdest girl at his school, in the hopes that her famous scientist father will write him a letter of recommendation for Yale University. Meanwhile, Andy, Jim, and Posey are denied admission to a new nightclub, prompting them to create their own nightclub.|
Music: "Yo Yo" by Basement Jaxx, "Phalanx" by Jega, "Yakety Sax", "Breaking the Law" by Judas Priest
|11||"Stories of Hope and Forgiveness (or Day of the Jackass)"||Christian Roman||Dan McGrath||July 28, 2002 (on Adult Swim)||3950-11|
Andy is asked to the Grammys by actress Becca Michelle Butterfield; Posey meditates in an attempt to find nirvana; and Kevin gets involved in a protest when news of an international crisis hits.|
Music: "Arctic Cat" by The Gloria Record
|12||"Happy Birthday, Kevin (or Happy Birthday, Douchebag)"||Mike Kim||Rob Schwartz & Rich Siegel||August 4, 2002 (on Adult Swim)||3950-12|
Kevin's birthday is coming up, and, now that he's not at home with his family, he becomes depressed and miserable. Meanwhile, Natalie brings home a boa constrictor from an animal testing raid, and Carlos worries that the boa constrictor will attack their baby.|
Music: "Unsung" by Helmet, "Everloving" by Moby, "Cherry Pie" by Warrant.
|13||"Plan 9 from Mission Hill (or I Married a Gay Man from Outer Space)"||Jim Shellhorn||Dan McGrath||August 11, 2002 (on Adult Swim)||3950-13|
Series finale. Kevin becomes fascinated with classic films when he sneaks into a local theater to watch Midnight Cowboy under the assumption that it's a porno film because of its "X" rating—and uncovers a lost B-movie that Wally directed in the 1950s.|
Music: *"Everybody's Talkin'" by Harry Nilsson, "Midnight Cowboy" by John Barry, György Ligeti's "Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo Sprano, two mixed choirs and orchestra" as performed by the Bavarian radio orchestra and conducted by Francis Travis is played as Kevin watches the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
|14||"Meditations on a Career in Advertising (or Supertool)"||3950-14|
|Andy and Jim work together on the "Chef-A-Rooni" account at the ad agency, but Jim ends up getting credit for it. Meanwhile, Kevin, Toby, and George buy an upscale Port-A-Potty after thugs Griffo, C-Dog, and Phat Ass take over the boys' room.|
|15||"To Grandmother's House We Go (or Freaky Weekend in the Crappy Crudwagon)"||3950-15|
Andy, Kevin, Jim, and Posey take a road trip on Memorial Day Weekend to Kevin's grandmother's house, but Andy locks Kevin in the trunk. Eventually, an argument breaks out between Andy, Posey and Kevin about whether or not they should go to an Indian casino, Kevin's grandmother's house or a large field of sunflowers. Meanwhile, Gus and Wally take care of Stogie.Music: "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club is the only known song used in the episode, as an animatic clip on the Internet featuring what would have been the actual soundtrack is used. The rest of the animatic has not been released to the public. The script does mention a lot of 1980s songs being used as all the radio stations are playing 1980s music during the three-day weekend.
|16||"Pretty in Pink (or Crap Gets in Your Eyes)"||3950-16|
|Andy and Gwen's relationship goes through a rocky period after Gwen breaks up with Andy and Andy drunkenly sleeps with Jim's assistant, Stacie, who loves Jim and also only slept with Andy because she was drunk.|
|17||"Death of a Yale Man (or Premature Metriculation)"||3950-17|
|Toby and George think Kevin is dying after he comes to school bald (which was from Kevin trying to get rid of a bad haircut) and decide to ask the head of Yale University to let Kevin in as his final wish. Meanwhile, Andy and Jim fight back against yuppie SUV drivers who keep cutting them off in traffic.|
|18||"Bye Bye Nerdy (or I Was a Teenage Porn Star)"||3950-18|
|Kevin accidentally appears in the background of a porno movie being filmed in the building. When his parents discover this, they force Kevin to move with them to Wyoming, only to find out that having Kevin around is killing their romance.|
The show takes place in a district called Mission Hill. Mission Hill is a diverse neighborhood in a much larger city called Cosmopolis. Cosmopolis is depicted as a large modern urban metropolis similar to New York City or Chicago. The official website states Mission Hill is a mix of Mission Hill in Boston (only miles away from where creator Bill Oakley went to college), Mission District in San Francisco, Silver Lake in Los Angeles, Wicker Park in Chicago, and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. The exact location of Cosmopolis has never been revealed, as it is a mix of East and West Coast cities. Most of the series takes place in the neighborhood of Mission Hill, although the skyscrapers of Downtown Cosmopolis are seen in the background. In the DVD commentaries, Josh Weinstein says that a large portion of the development of the show was spent developing Mission Hill into a functional, albeit fictional, city. Writers and animators worked together to create fictional advertisements, bands, foods, and even bus schedules.
Warner Home Video released all 13 completed episodes on DVD, on November 29, 2005. The collection replaced some of the original soundtrack with stock music, most glaringly "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M. in the episode "Andy vs. The Real World."
Mission Hill received the 2000 Pulcinella Award for "Best Series for All Audiences"; the award cited the show's "stylized design and honest approach to sexual and moral issues."
The show won an award from GLAAD for its positive portrayal of a gay relationship.