You might've noticed that Pacific Heat, the new Netflix original series premiering today, looks a lot like Archer, FX's 2-D superspy hit. Like Archer, this Australian import wields a bold-lined animation style, a group of bumbling heroes, and a quick-witted sense of humor that hinges on bickering. The main characters are even undercover cops, a job that feels only like a slight deviation from Sterling Archer's.
As similar as the two shows seem on the surface, they function very differently, meaning you shouldn't go into Pacific Heat thinking you'll get 13 episodes of "Netflix's Archer." Below, the questions you'll need to ask yourself to know if this new 'toon is for you.
Do you like rooting for idiots?
Pacific Heat revolves around four undercover cops -- operating out of Australia's Gold Coast, which is kind of like Miami -- who are better at arguing and being painfully dumb than doing their jobs. There's Todd, the kind of guy who's brave in shoot-outs but scared of helmet hair; Maddie, the smart one who knows multiple languages but comes across as a know-it-all buzzkill; Veronica, the one who has killer forensics skills but tries to eat things you'd find in a morgue, for some reason; and Zac, a meathead who's just hanging onto his last brain cell for dear life.
Although they all sound different, the three dumber characters oftentimes blend together so much that they cancel each other out, making many scenes feel like you're watching Maddie fighting crime with her pet Voltron of idiocy. See what I mean in the exclusive sneak peek above.
How fast do you like your dialogue?
Don't come expecting dazzling firefights. Pacific Heat overloads its characters' exchanges with jokes, hoping to capitalize on rapidfire repartee and homophonous mix-ups for laughs. (Think "Who's on First"-type quips.) Since the four main characters appear together in almost every scene, interactions zip by because everybody has something to say -- so much so, it sometimes feels like you're watching conversations at 160 percent their normal speed. If you glance away even for a second, you run the risk of missing key bits of dialogue or the occasional sally. But if you buckle up, you're in store for a few impressively juggled scenes (the interrogation scenes in Episode 2 stand out).
How do you feel about foreign accent humor?
The writers hit a wide range of targets here, poking fun at Russian, German, and Mandarin speakers, among others, much the same way a show like South Park does. So if super-affected accents and language-barrier mishaps sound outdated and racially insensitive to you, fair warning: both are a big part of the package, as the show's undercover Aussie cops spend lots of time confronting foreign threats throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and on the home front.
Wait, so how is the show different from Archer?
Honestly, the similarities are mostly visual. The creator-writer team of Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, and Rob Sitch (the same trio behind The Castle, The Hollowmen, and Utopia), have made Pacific Heat's heroes much, much dumber than those in Archer, which makes the latter feel leagues smarter by association. PH's blue humor is also more reserved (you might come across some sexy situations, but nobody comes close to topping Pam's declaration to masturbate till her fingers bleed), with way fewer obscure pop-culture references in tow.
Ultimately, Pacific Heat is much less about how its characters actually relate to each other; instead, it leans heavily into its police-procedural DNA, with most episodes playing as contained, plot-heavy missions. Cilauro addressed Archer comparisons back in October, noting that he thought his project was more Scooby-Doo meets CSI: Miami. That analogy makes a lot more sense, since Pacific Heat's four main characters appear together in almost every scene, traveling in a pack and functioning a lot like the Mystery Inc. gang. Just, yeah, way, way dumber.
Lastly, how do you feel about doors that don't work?
Seriously. The answer to this question could very well make or break this show for you.
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