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Western Animation / Ben's City

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Only as grounded in reality as it wants to be.

Ben's City is a CBC Web Animation series from Oasis Animation that airs in Canada. It depicts the adventures of Nice Guy Ben Hardy through his everyday life. Ben juggles his romance with his Asian girlfriend Sophie, his friendship with publicist Scott Gardner, and his job as counselor for Quebec's Minister of Environment, Henry Wallet. Scott also frequently helps his neighbor, Mrs. Shrink, whose husband was an inventor.

The series' tone is generally upbeat and shows Slices of Life of the characters. The episodes' plots go from political meddling to adult worries to intrusion of supernatural.

The show first aired in the province of Quebec under the title Pérusse Cité. The series was, in fact, created by François Pérusse, a Quebecois comedian famous for being a Pungeon Master, and the worlds he invents are Worlds of Pun. He's already legendary in French-speaking Canadian culture for being the creator of Les 2 Minutes du Peuple. He also does every single voice in the show (yes, even the female ones). The show was then translated to the English language for the rest of Canada, though many of the puns were Lost in Translation. Fortunately, having everyone voiced by the same person was kept in, with prominent Montreal-based voice actor Rick Jones being the show's sole dub actor.

A second season began in May 2013. The series was not renewed for a third season.

The series could originally be seen on CBC, but it was taken down. The original French series can be seen on the Youtube chain of François Pérusse.

This series provides examples of:

  • Acting Unnatural: In "The Shuffle", Ben discusses with Scott about a scheme he discovered that involves getting Henry fired and replaced by a younger minister. While running in the park, they fear someone could hear them talking about the scheme, as Scott was hired to make an advertisement for the new Minister, so they start acting lines in case they're being listened. And indeed, they were. By a squirrel who reported what they said to the guy behind it all.
  • Ambiguously Gay: A famous hairdresser named Sigourney Cutter comes to a concurrent hair salon, only to turn against them and help Sophie's. The whole episode gives next to no clue on this, but at the end she reveals to be homosexual.
    Luke: Oh, I love you so much, I think I could become hetero!
    Sigourney: Oh darling, the problem is that I'd have to become hetero as well.
  • Anachronism Stew : One episode has Albert Einstein, Da Vinci, the Mona Lisa and Jesus appearing each for a short time. None of them was able to answer to an important dilemma question.
  • Angrish: Henry Wallet gets angry at a protester at a park (as these protesters would ruin the heroes' plan in this episode), yells at him in unspeakable terms (literally unspeakable, therefore Angrish), then gives him a beating. He too gets his fair share of punches in the encounter, though.
  • Art Shift: The art style changed a little between Season 1 and Season 2; most noticeable is the change of clothing of some characters. A little less noticeable is the slight changes in muscular structure of others.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Any trivial question or statement will get snarked on.
    Space tourist looking at the atmosphere reentry: Is that fire?
    Astronaut: *slowclap* Congrats.
  • Bears Are Bad News:
    • Played with. In "The All-Inclusive", people answer to a question from the main cast, which results in a "No" montage consisting of only people answering no to their question. Last to answer is a bear, who then explains his answer a little more, and is then told by the producer to shut up. The bear immediately takes on an angry face and srtars menacing the producer, effectively scaring him; then, the bear gets back to being joyful, lectures the producer on being more polite next time, and leaves.
    • Inverted in “The Ice”, when an ice-breaker has to take hitchhiking polar animals (including bears) due to the very little amount of ice left. The bear actually acts like he's on vacation, complete with sunglasses and earphones, and travels with a cub.
  • Berserk Button: Scott Gardner and any technology that works wrong.
    Scott: Call Ben's Phone. ...Call Ben's Phone! ...CALL! BEN'S! PHONE! (followed by a series of small curse words)
  • Beyond the Impossible:
    • "The Debris" contains a lot of supernatural elements, and the conclusion of "The All Inclusive" feels like a Karmic Twist Ending. Yet, most of the rest of the series happens in a very realistic world.
    • There are Transformers in the first episode of Season 2. Likewise, many episodes of Season 2 tend to do this, at least for one joke.
  • Big Bad: As revealed at the end of the second season, the international enterprises with way too much power are built up as this.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In "The Ice", an ice breaker captain made a joke about a friend of his he went to Quebec with. Said friend wasn't really good at understanding French.
    Captain: You were flirting with the waitress, and she told you "Mange de la marde" (literally: Eat shit) and you said "Yeah, I'll take that."
    • The joke is of course different in the French version of the episode. (loosely translated: "When you tried to speak English in Las Vegas and you asked a street walker how much for a pipe ("pipe" being a Canadian french slang for oral sex) and she told you you'd have to ask at the hardware store.")
  • Blatant Lies: Frequently used by the villains to try and get their projects accepted by the ministers.
    • In "The Cloud", the owner of a factory uses those. The factory released a dangerous toxic cloud, and Henry had called him to repair the damage done.
  • *Bleep*-dammit!: For humor purposes, when they swear, the characters often get bleeped. The funniest? They often point the bleep out, like it's part of their world.
  • Bowdlerize: The English version replaces a certain similar sounding word by "Shoot". The French version keeps the original term.
  • Brick Joke:
    • “The Shuffle” has a quick laugh, “Ahahahahahahahahahahaha!” said by a farmer, at the beginning and at the end of the episode.
    • In “The All-Inclusive”, there’s a hockey video game that ties in with the strange twist ending.
  • Butt-Monkey: Though not as bad as what can be seen in other shows, Henry Wallet is very unlucky and all kinds of mishaps happen to him, even some that defy the laws of gravity. Seriously, he drops his cup of coffee... on the ceiling? By this point, he can almost be considered a Cosmic Plaything of some kind.
  • The Cameo: The first episode of Season 2 involves the villain, the owner of Toxi Company, sending a freaking TRANSFORMER at Ben and Sophie's house. The robot is however taken down by an army jet ordered by Henry Wallet. Seems the silly old guy has grown aware of what could happen to his counselor...
  • Carry the One and If My Calculations Are Correct: After teh funeral for the owner of Scott's advertising company, Scott tells this to the widow:
    Scott: You know, madam, there weren't two like your husband. And since there weren't two and he's dead, then we have... (he takes out a calculator and makes a few calculations) Three hundred fifty... Carry the four... Zero.
  • Catchphrase: Rick, a one-time character in "The All-Inclusive", has "Time is Nothing". It's even part of the twist ending.
  • Cheated Angle: In Season 1, no character face ever appears in front view, always a 3/4 view or a fll profile. In Season 2, they try to put in as much as possible Ben or Scott's face in front view, which looks a bit strange at first.
  • Cliffhanger: The final episode of season 1, "The Little Bun", reveals that Sophie's pregnant.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Ben gets the survey that shows only 13% call themselves satisfied for the prime minister and says it was a really biased question, the prime minister reaction is simply "I'll have you know that 13% of people went to a picnic on the highway with me in underwear."
  • Crapsaccharine World: The animation style is colorful and bright, and even the governments are trying to help people (contrasting the bad governments very often seen in fiction), but there's still mafia, criminals, economical problems, natural disasters, and one joke makes a one-time character literally disappear. It's still lighter than most Crapsaccharine worlds.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Notaries in this world are this. They come to each reading of a will with a hockey mask and a jock strap... just to make sure they're protected in case families or associates start attacking each other during the reading.
  • Crooked Contractor: In "The Arts", Sophie plans renovations for the hair salon. In Ben’s City, the best companies have the silliest names, such as "Does This Look Straight to You?" and "I Don’t Have a Hammer, So I Use my Vice-Grip". Subverted with "Butt-Crack Company", which immediately plans delays in the renovation. Companies with the most trustworthy names are the least trustworthy, too. In the French version, À Plus Construction reflects this: "A+" refers to the best among the best, but "À plus" can also mean “See you later”, which could mean lots and lots of delays.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Many characters have their moments, but most of them are sarcastic in a non-insulting way. It helps that the others take it lightly with a smile.
    • Scott actually fits the trope. Almost every episode has him passing a little comment.
    Scott: If I was any happier, I'd be tap dancing on our table, but I don't want to spill our wine.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: One-time character Mary-Ann in “The Carrier” first appears as a stuck-up psychologist coming to Scott’s agency for an ad. She quite changes at the end, though.
  • Determinator: Ben Hardy. He always manages to pull his boss out of hot water.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The Prime Minister's dreams. Not to mention that his dreams never lie to him, so he uses them sometimes to know what's gonna come for his government. Don't try to explain this.
  • Evil Plan: Those are often pulled by the villains, who are usually people trying to pollute the environment.
  • Exactly Whatit Says On The Tin: Most episodes have a short name, only a word, about the episode's plot. "The Carrier", "The Ice", "The Arts", "The Debris", "The Contract".
  • Expy: The villain in the finale of Season 2 is built up to be one of Darth Vader; we see from his point of view, people seem scared of him, and he has the mettalic voice, the heavy breathing... Subverted later when it's revealed to be actually a normal man speaking in a can of soup all the time. His nickname is even Don Vader.
  • Fake Boobs: Lindo Bumpo, homosexual crossdressing stripper, was known as Linda Bumper during his act. The illusion was perfect. Now retired, he still has those implants, which perk out strangely under his three-piece suit.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": Played with in “I Need Space”, when Scott calls a cable TV company on Mrs. Shrink’s behalf.
    Automatic message: For service in English, press 1.
    Scott: [annoyed] Yeah, yeah, and for a prostate exam, press 0.
    Assistant: What kind of exam, sir?
  • Funny Background Event: Quite a few, but a notable example of a subvertion happens in Season 2. A documentary about mining fields left open is being filmed, and as the interviewee is speaking, somebody behind him jumps into a deep hole. When the scene is cut because of a mistake, the interviewee turns to the hole and says "We gota redo it, climb back out!" Followed by a bleeped curse word by the guy who jumped down.
  • The Government: Played with. Governments shown in this series seem to be actually trying to do good. They're not willingly bad. The ministers of Quebec are really TRYING to do the best for the people, but they constantly get approached by true villains trying to use the system to get to their goals. The only proof of a partly evil government is when the Provincial and Federal sides of the Quebec/Canadian governments clash. In which cases, both are shown in this series to strongly dislike each other, and nag each other as well. The whole "governments are nice, outside influences are evil" is closer to real life, making this a case of Truth in Television.
  • Green Aesop: Many, considering Ben’s job as the minister of Environment’s counselor is a major plot point in many episodes.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: In "The Contract", Ben hires two guards to stay in front of his apartment block, as he is in possible danger by some beginner mafiosi. One of the guards is fine, but the other... keeps talking to his hand, non-stop.
  • Happy Ending
  • Hartman Hips: Sophie and many female characters. Taken Up to Eleven with the news anchorwoman, whose hips are maybe larger than a door frame.
  • Heroic BSoD: In the first episode, "I Need Space", Sophie dumps Ben and only leaves lots and lots of post-its around his apartment to tell him. He's heartbroken and can't seem to do anything right.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Henry gets out of a boring cocktail conversation by saying he forgot hishis backseat in his car.
  • Imagine Spot: Quite a lot of this.
    • The federal Minister of Environment has one when Prime Minister Peter Mess suggests firing him from ministry duty and instead putting him as ambassador of Canada in Italy. The evoked images are women, historical landscapes, food, and drawers.
    • Ben also has one when Henry is about to sell almost all the water of Quebec to two “visionary” Arabic hotel builders ready to bribe the Minister of Environment with a huge sum. The Imagine Spot ends when Ben realizes it would be useless to buy huge boats if there’s no more water for them to float in.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: In "I Need Space", when Scott shows a website to Ben. He quickly deletes the browsing history when Sophie arrives.
  • iPhony: Many computers have a banana logo on them.
  • Irony: Preceding Minister of Environment, Donald Jobin, who uses a high level of language to flirt with a golfer lady, but falls downright into vulgarity when he throws the gold ball in a dirt pit.
  • I Take Offenseto That Last One: Inverted entirely. In "The Arts", Henry Wallet reads a text the federal government wants to force him to read at the Summit of Environment. The first two lines are formulas relating to how Wallet is there because of a misunderstanding and how the Prime Minister of Canada will not endorse Wallet's speech. Those two sentences anger him highly. The third sentence is a list of insults Wallet would be reading about himself; strangely, he considers that one not as offensive.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Scott. He dates many girls, usually at the same time and is a Deadpan Snarker, but we see him much more like a lovable guy who cares for his friends and for his job.
  • Karma Houdini: In "The Contract", a starting mafioso menaces Henry and Ben, sends a henchman to kidnap Sophie (he fails), and also tries to attack them at their apartment (failed again). He is sentenced to a single day of prison. (This also serves as a Take That! to Quebec's system of justice, which seems to be too gentle with criminals.)
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • The Minister of Culture, at the beginning of “The Arts”. Apparently from falling down the stairs with a final "Pataclaf" sound.
    • The owner of Scott's advertising company.
  • Large Ham: During the Season 2 finale, Henry and Ben have to spy on a meeting held by the Prime Minister of Quebec and a shady man nicknamed Don Vader; for this, they hire an actor. That guy is probably the hammiest actor of all time. Impossible for him to say something normally. He always ups and ups and ups his hamminess...
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to most shows and sitcoms. The bad guys get their comeuppance before they can hurt someone, the snarky remarks are taken with amusement and everyone gets along.
  • Limited Wardrobe:
    • Played straight in each season, but averted as many characters suddenly have a change in clothing between season 1 and season 2.
    • Justified subversion for Sophie at first, seeing as she was pregnant at the end of the first season and had the round belly during the first episode of the second season, being in the advanced stages of her pregnancy; her original outfit was clearly too small for her at the moment. However, in the episodes after she has her baby, she wears the same type of outfit she wore in Season 1, except in red instead of green.
  • Masquerade: In "The Debris", the government tries to keep the discovery of an extraterrestrial debris under wraps. They also keep as secret as possible a meeting with the aliens to give them their item back.
  • Meaningful Name: Henry Wallet isn't a poor man.
    • Mrs. Shrink is very petite.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
  • Never Say "Die": Wallet has that problem twice in the first season. Each time, he tries to come up with better ways to say it, but he always tries to avoid the word "die".
  • Never Speak Illofthe Dead: In "The Arts", when the Minister of Culture dies and the minister is given to Wallet, he complains about the dead minister's mishaps, and is then told that those should be forgotten because he's dead. Then Wallet sas he would just have to die so all his mishaps would be forgotten... On which the Prime Minister replies that he would havwe to die a couple times for that.
  • New Job Episode: "The Turning Point".
  • Nice to the Waiter: Inverted. Henry apparently dislikes a waiter at the French restaurant down the street, though only for one episode. When he goes to said restaurant with Ben and two others, though, the joke’s on him.
    Waiter: A table for four, sir?
    Henry: No, a see-saw for two.
    [Gilligan Cut and we see all four sitting and apparently eating at a small see-saw.]
    Ben: So, the next time you’re going to-
    Henry: Keep my mouth shut, I know Ben.
  • No Budget: In-universe. Near the end of Season 2, the Prime Minister of Quebec has a big project to be remembered in history. Then comes this exchange. It's safe to assume they don't have enough money for anything...
    Minister 1: Do we have enough money for such a project?
    Minister 2: *kind of laughing* hee haa huh hah huh hee...
    Minister 1: No really, how much money do we have left for this?
    Minister 2: Hee haa huh hah huh hee...
    Henry Wallet: Okay, enough laughing. Ben, look up how much money our government still has. *Ben Brings him the computer* Treasury balance: Hee haa huh hah huh hee.
    Minister 2: That's what I was saying.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Elton John guest stars, though not voiced by himself, and is depicted as really nice and joyful. This celebrity was definitely not harmed.
    • Sigourney Cutter - Sigourney Weaver?
    • According to the creator of the series, Splendid, the star depicted in "The Cloud" and getting a haircut at Sophie's Salon, is a reference to Lady Gaga. Splendid's songs have no intelligence value whatsoever, being only long series of onomatopeas in rythm with the music.
    • Gary Peddle is a reference to Vince Offer, famous for short infomercials.
    • Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as "Agents John James and James Johns".
    • Among others, a politician resembling Arnold Schwarzenegger admits his faults in "The Little Bun".
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: Each time Scott leaves one of his dates after sleeping with her.
  • Oh, Crap!: Ben has this kind of face when he sees the island he went to with Sophie for vacation is about to be struck by a tornado.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Henry Wallet. It's practically a Running Gag for him, and what's worse, he's a Minister, which means he's most of the time discussing with important people!
  • Orphaned Punchline: Inverted. After Lucien announces a huge project, Henry says this. We never hear the remaining parts of the joke, but the first sentence alone sounds like the beginning of a great joke.
    Henry: You want to be renowned hrough time? You wanna make it into history? I can put you in a story, listen: 'It's once a guy, two Jews, an English and you in a Hotel.'
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Some of the plots feel like this. Environment is always an important political topic. The most evident example is the first episode of the second season; it has Henry Wallet having to deal with projects for shale gas extraction, and needs to find a way to do so without polluting the environment. Comes Scott who got a contract for space tourism with the NASA; he convinces the NASA to create a method to extract shale gas without any danger to the environment. In exchange, they can use part of the shale gas as fuel for their rockets.
  • Rule of Three: In "The Debris", Scott is called three times when he is at work. And each time, he is with the same client. Said client ­points it out the third time, too.
  • Running Gag: Henry Wallet's mishaps and gaffes. He even lampshades it in an episode. He trips a waiter and then tosses a fish at the face of a guest at a hotel.
    Henry: Ben, how many gaffes do I do per day?
    Ben: Two.
    Henry: Well, they're done now.
    • It's actually lampshaded a few more times, like in "The Turning Point":
    Henry: Ben, remember the day I had that mishap happen to me?
    Ben: Of course, it was the only day you've had just one happen to you.
  • Status Quo Is God: All episodes end just like they began. Except for the final episode, where it's revealed Sophie is pregnant.
  • Take That!:
    • Directed at golf. Yes, golf. The preceding Minister of Environment, Donald Jobin, is seen playing golf and losing his temper when he fails considerably. Made even worse when Henry calls him, distracting him and making him fail again. Word of God says it's a common plague for golf players to become irate when they are not so talented and frequently miss. The scene can be viewed in its French original version here. Hilariously, this comes back in season 2. Donald is playing golf, again, when a deer steals his golf ball as it was near the hole. As the preceding Minister is on an angry tirade, Henry calls again. Actually, this second time, Henry knew what to expect.
    Donald: Hello, f**k it!
    Henry: Still playing golf, Donald?
    • One directed at Quebec's justice system.
    • When the U.S department of defense call the Canadian government about a ufo crash, the prime minister call them the department of offense.
    U.S Defense secretary:It's actually defense
    Prime Minister: Ah come on.
    U.S Defense secretary(conceding): Fair fair.
  • Tarot Troubles: As he gets a tarot reading right after being fired, Henry Wallet sees four Death cards show up... two which are labeled "Death Extra Plus" and "Death Golden Edition", respectively.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Each time Henry Wallet is facing a bribe. Actually, he often needs to see Ben disapproving this act to say no to the bribe. But we can blame his stupidity for that.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: Minister Wallet is dumb enough to accept bribes, but Ben says there's one time that Wallet is "too dumb to fool", and that time is any sexual scandals, such as prostitutes or seduction.
    Ben: The would would ask him "What do you want me to do?" and he'd answer "A western omelette".
  • Toxic, Inc.: Toxicompany, of course. With such a name...
  • Villain Has a Point: When Henry tells an owner of multiple meat industries as front for criminal activities that chicken farms where the chickens are piled on each other is no longer tolerated the owner asks why is it tolerated to do the same with patients in a hospital. Henry doesn't have any argument about that.