Liquid Television

Finally, MTV redeems itself for putting Queensrÿche into heavy rotation: Liquid Television is a terrific weekly anthology showcasing new, eccentric little films, most of them animated. It’s often witty and exhilarating, and most of this material isn’t kid stuff.

Writer-director Peter Chung’s Aeon Flux, for example, is a shrewd, erotic parody of superhero comic books in which a scantily clad woman mows down an army of men with a variety of automatic weapons. That’s it — no dialogue, just relentless action.

The widely praised illustrator-cartoonist Richard Sala offers an absurdist murder mystery called Invisible Hands; all of its hunched-over, slit-eyed characters babble in non sequiturs. And in Malcolm Bennett’s and Michael Smith’s extraordinary Rocky — seen over the past year as the most startling of MTV’s commercial ”bumpers” — an enormous thug grabs an innocent bystander by the throat, reaches into his mouth, and pulls out the man’s entire skeleton, leaving a shapeless bag of flesh in the other hand. The speed, precision, and horror of the animation is repulsive and beautiful at the same time.

Liquid Television reminds you there’s a world of animation that exists as underground art, never reaching commercial TV. The debut episode reaches its peak with Grinning Evil Death, a stream-of-consciousness tale in which a little boy’s box of breakfast cereal comes to life and leads him into a battle with a giant steel cockroach — I kid you not. As overseen by Mike McKenna and Bob Sabiston, Grinning Evil Death is a stunning display of clashing animation styles, including state-of-the-art computer-generated and good old-fashioned drawing.

With all this artistry crammed into a half-hour chunk each week, Liquid Television certainly entertains, but it also does something that MTV isn’t exactly famous for: It provokes thought. A-

Liquid Television
  • TV Show