“Victor and Valentino” is off to a Fun, Adventurous Start
By: Dylan Hysen
Victor and Valentino premiered this morning at 8:30am on Cartoon Network (not that you’d know from their TV listings) from Powerpuff Girls storyboard artist Diego Molano. In this 11 minute pilot, Molano is faced with the Herculean task of establishing characters and a new setting all while executing a story that can stand on its own. This is completely unreasonable, yet Victor and Valentino finds success in its first episode, introducing us to a fascinating world in the context of a fun, fast-paced story.
The show is lead by half-brothers (they briefly discuss their shared father at one point) Victor (voiced by Molano) and Valentino (Rico Rodriguez, from Modern Family) who have a familiar adventurous/wet-blanket dynamic. Victor is your Star or Mabel of the show, and Valentino, more the Dipper or Marco. The short episode doesn’t give enough time for either character to jump out at you, but their adventures in it certainly do as the two somehow quickly travel to the underworld via tacos and a magic dog, where they face a supernatural maze.
What stands out most about the show is the humor (Victor at one point in the episode’s best gag chooses a luchador mask over things like a GPS from a video game-like item shop in the maze) and the unique aesthetic of the show. Victor and Valentino feels like Gravity Falls with its sibling-dynamic and supernatural setting, but more fun and absurd, and infused with Hispanic culture. From tacos being the framing device of the episode, to almost everything feeling Día de Muertos-inspired, to the leads themselves and all of the characters being Hispanic, to the partly-Spanish speaking grandmother (very Jane the Virgin-like), the show consistently highlights the cultural influence of its creator, and to me it clearly pays off as that’s the thing that stands out most in my mind looking back on the pilot.
The episode ends with Victor and Valentino’s grandmother telling them an ominous “it’s time for you to learn the truth about Monte Macabre” after Victor’s new mask apparently reveals a ghost-realm in their hometown. I love when seemingly throwaway gags pay off to the overarching plot and Victor’s luchador mask being the key to unlocking this new realm is an excellent example of that device. The end of the episode is an intriguing direction to take the show, playing off the strengths of the Día de Muertos-influence of the episode. This prominent otherworldly dynamic always being at play could be a great distinguisher from shows like Gravity Falls and I can’t wait to see where the series goes next.
Catch the pilot again on November 1st at 3:30pm on Cartoon Network. [Update: it’s now on Youtube.]