‘The Amazing Screw-On Head’ **** 031607 DVD Review

The Work = ****
Woohoo! This an animated TV show that I love! Surely this will be have a niche audience but it will be a strong one and I bet the show will be around for at least a couple of seasons, right? Ok, so I’m wrong. ‘The Amazing Screw-On Head’ is an enjoyable pilot episode for a TV show that seems to have not been picked up. Shame, because this is a good episode and I think the ‘The Amazing Screw-On  Head’ would make an enjoyable little series.

Based on a comic book bike Mike Mignola, the same artist that created the ‘Hellboy’ comics, the show is a caomedic, sfi-fi, horror, adventure show that has a sort of free wheeling style. Set around the time of the Civil War, ‘The Amazing Screw-On Head’ follows the adventures of Screw-On Head (Paul Giamatti). Head is literally a disembodied head that can screw himself into various robotic bodies and go off on adventures. Employed by President Lincoln to keep the supernatural and otherworldly under control and secreted away from the population of America, Screw-On Head is the last line of defense against hidden evil. The set-up is a launch point for all kinds of adventure and this episode has no less than a zombie, a werewolf, and a vampire (amongst other creatures).

If there is a disappointment I have about previous adaptations of Mignola’s ‘Hellboy’ franchise, it is that they never quite captured the look and feel of  the comics. In the case of the feature film ‘Hellboy’ it is a bit more understandable because of the change of going from a comic to live action.  However, when it came to the animated ‘Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms’ a bizarre contractual obligation caused the filmmakers to literally change the style of the cartoon away from Mignola’s comics. While I still liked the film, I didn’t like it nearly as much as I think I would have had the filmmakers been able to stick closer to the comics look and feel.

Fortunately with ‘The Amazing Screw-On Head’ there does not appear to be any such restrictions. Capturing Mignola’s style is a tricky business but director Chris Prynoski and crew handle it well. Not only that but the show thankfully does not shy away from showing a bit of blood, (very) brief nudity and the occasional adult oriented joke. Sure everything in ‘The Amazing Screw-On Head’ is harmless but the tone keeps the pilot feeling like it is not necessarily for the kiddies. 

Assembling a surprisingly solid body of performers, ‘The Amazing Screw-On Head’ has the talent to sell the fun dialogue. In addition to Giamatti, the pilot also stars David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon and Patton Oswalt who all do a great job despite not necessarily being known as voice actors. Everything just clicked for and I found myself wanting more (which isn’t surprising, the pilot is only 22 minutes). I’m not going to hold my breath but I do keep hoping that someone will foot the bill to make a season ‘The Amazing Screw-On Head’. The show could go anywhere and if the cast and crew could keep the quality up I think it would be quite the show.

DVD = ****

The Look
‘The Amazing Screw-On Head’ gets a darn good transfer. For some silly reason both a fullscreen and an anamorphic widescreen version of the pilot are available on the disk. With the short run time I’m sure it didn’t affect the quality but honestly why bother with the fullscreen?

The Sound
The DVD has 2.0 and 5.1 soundtracks available. I only reviewed the 2.0 track but it sounded good to me. Occasionally a bit of the dialogue sounded low but it is a minor quibble. There is also closed captioning, as well as English and Spanish subtitles.

The Bonus
 ‘The Amazing Screw-On Head’ has an ok set of extras. Starting out, inside the box is a small booklet of concept art with an introduction by Mignolia. Next there is a 13 minute making of featurette that covers the development of ‘The Amazing Screw-On Head’. There is also a storyboard to final animation feature that plays a two minute screen with storyboards and animatics above at the same time. There is also a commentary track with Prynoski and writer/ producer Bryan Fuller. While the track is an easy listen there are quite a few times that cut scenes are mentioned that are not on the DVD. It’s a bummer because the feature and the bonus are not very long so the DVD certainly could have had more extras on it. Lastly there are a few trailers but sadly not one for ‘The Amazing Screw-On Head’. I suppose I really can’t complain too much since the show got a nice transfer and good sound mix.

All Together = ****
Why couldn’t ‘The Amazing Screw-On Head’ have been picked up? Come on guys, do it for me, pleeeeeeaaaaaaaasssse. Ok, so that is not going to work. Still, at least this episode got made and released on DVD. I guess I can’t complain too much. I may be giving this one a bit too high of a recommendation but I just can’t help myself, I liked the show darn it. Be aware, this is just the 22 minute pilot episode, so if you pick up the DVD it is not going to be a very long watch. Still, it is not too expensive and downright fun. Highly recommended.


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My review of 'Star Wars Clone Wars' can be seen HERE.

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