Andy: Don't get excited. It doesn't have anything you would like.
Kevin: Well, it looks very colorful.
Mission Hill, a short-lived animated series that ran on the WB from 1999 to 2000 (then aired in reruns in 2002 on the fledgling [adult swim] block on Cartoon Network), followed the lives of 24-year-old slacker Andy French and his Fish out of Water brother Kevin, an Odd Couple forced to share a loft apartment in a quirky downtown neighborhood. 18 episodes were scheduled, but only 13 were created before the show's cancellation. Two of the last five unfinished episodes exist as animatic storyboards and three were released as scripts only.
Despite its failure, Mission Hill has some noteworthy history attached to it:
- It has since become one of the last animated shows to use traditional, hand-painted cel animation. Though the producers maintained, in commentary, that it never looked right on screen anyway as the colors lost a lot of their pop. Later shows such as Drawn Together used the technique for stylistic reasons.
- It featured an on-screen homosexual kiss (between Gus and Wally in the pilot episode) from a couple established to be male homosexuals, making it one of the first TV shows of any kind to do so (only a 1990 episode of The Simpsons ["Simpson and Delilah"] and the first season of Picket Fences in 1992 [which featured a male-on-male kiss in one episode and a female-on-female kiss in another] predate the episode in this regard), and in one of the greatest trope aversions of all time, elderly gay couple Gus and Wally had such rich personalities and unique storylines that the list of tropes below contains no Stereotype Gay entries. The show won an award from GLAAD for showing homosexual characters in a positive and non-stereotypical light.
- Voice actor Tom Kenny's take on one-off character Jimmy Briskin, a diminutive actor who played an Ewok in Return of the Jedi, landed him another job: the titular character of SpongeBob SquarePants. He even repurposed the Jimmy Briskin voice as SpongeBob's.
Mission Hill initially aired on The WB (along with two other short-lived cartoons: The Oblongs and the animated adaptation of Baby Blues), but the show didn't fit with a network that had branded itself as, in the words of the show's creators (former Simpsons showrunners Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein), "the teenage girl network." The show, incidentally alongside the other two, received a minor revival on [adult swim] thanks to that network rebroadcasting it, including the completed episodes that never aired on The WB.
This series provides examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Toby towards Gwen in the unfinished episode "Pretty In Pink (a.k.a Crap Gets In Your Eyes)," much to her horror and Andy's annoyance.
- Accidental Pervert: Kevin accidentally gropes Gwen while driving Ron's car in Unemployment Part 1, due to his unfamiliarity with driving stick shift.
- Achievement Test of Destiny: The SAT. In one episode, Kevin tries to crack the "code" of standardized testing and guarantee a perfect score and thus admission to Yale (the alternative of extracurricular activities fails miserably).
- Action-Hogging Opening: Downplayed, but the title sequence features much smoother animation than much of the rest of the series - just look at Andy, Posey and Jim's dancing, which is considerably less choppy than the animation in the series proper.
- Adaptation Decay: In one episode, while seeing a film adaptation of one his favorite comic books (about a female robot assassin), Kevin loudly complains about the deviations from the source material, such as her talking despite another character removing her voicebox before the events of the film and blowing a kiss at an enemy's still standing skeleton, despite being a robot and lacking the lungs to do so.
- The Alcoholic:
- Stogie the dog. No one can leave booze out, as he's been known to drink it. It has been mentioned in the pilot that Andy's dad had to spray his liquor cabinet with dog repellent.
- Andy himself also drinks quite a lot.
- The Alleged Car: Jim's car, the Crudwagon (a.k.a, The Bilgemobile). It runs okay, but it's rusty, looks like a piece of crap, and is filled with junk food wrappers.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Kevin and Andy's mother. Their father is okay, if a bit morose, but their mother manages to be both controlling AND embarassing. Also, Eunice Eulmyer AKA "Werdie" from Kevin Finds Love has this attitude towards her elderly parents, especially her father, a former scientist on the H-Bomb project. His comprehensive senility makes him a bit offputting.
- Toby's incredibly babying mother, she rivals Mrs French in this regard.
- Acquired Error at the Printer: Posey's classified ad for massage therapy. A typo changed her ad from promising "soothing relief" to "soothing release", which attracts men expecting a massage parlour experience.
- Asian and Nerdy: George, Kevin's friend.
- Asian Store-Owner: George's dad, Mr. Bang
- Bad Job, Worse Uniform: Andy has one when he loses his job, and takes a (temporary) job as a mascot for an ice cream shop. On top of that, he has to stand on a traffic median, where he passes out from the exhaust fumes of passing cars.Andy: ...and when I came to, there were all these kids standing around me, crying.
- Been There, Shaped History: In Wally's flashback in "Plan 9 From Mission Hill", the casting director for Wally movie, The Man From Pluto, informs him they've cast up-and-coming stars Charlton "Hestopolis" and Paul "McNewman"; Wally notes those aren't "movie star names" so their agent has them adopt stage names. After Gus replaces Paul McNewman as the titular man from Pluto, Heston complains, refusing to work with "that damned, dirty ape", then decides he "likes the sound of that".
- Big Ball of Violence: The animation is so good and detailed, that all of the comical fights are visible when Andy and Kevin roughhouse. The cartoony dust ball just appears for stylistic reasons.
- Bi the Way: In an unaired, unfinished episode, Posey and Gwen dance sexually together at a nightclub. While Gwen has the excuse of being drunk, Posey doesn't.Andy: How much has Posey had to drink?
Jim: She doesn't drink.
Andy: Right. Damn!
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: Andy during his time on The Real World quips to the producers, "You think I'm MTV material? I'm not even WB material!" The gag goes two ways, as not only is this a burn on The WB and its crummy programming, but Mission Hill was originally pitched to MTV, but MTV already had Downtown (which forced Mission Hill to abandon its original title, The Downtowners) and Daria and passed up on Mission Hill.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Jim at his job as an ad executive.
- Cardboard Box Home: In the episode "Happy Birthday, Kevin (or Happy Birthday, Douchebag)", Kevin accidentally bumps into a cardboard box on the sidewalk and a homeless man jumps out of it.Homeless Man: Hey! You smashed my porch! That is a fine, expensive porch! Pay me! Hey, pay me, yuppie man! Hey hey, I'm talkin' to you!
- Character Development: After the "Happy Birthday Kevin" episode, Andy starts to make an effort to be a lot nicer to Kevin in any episodes made after this, compare this to the earlier episodes, where Andy would Take a Level in Jerk Ass and rip on Kevin for no apparent reason. It also shows Kevin beginning to move on from his previous coddled, sheltered life with his parents and embracing his newfound liberty.
- In the unfinished episode "I Was A Teenaged Porn Star" (or, "Bye, Bye Nerdie"). Kevin changes so much from living in the city that he finds it hard to adjust back to living with his parents again (after they find that Kevin is in the background of a porno flick and decide that he shouldn't be in the city anymore). He wonders that if his mother was always annoying and smothering to him and he just didn't notice it before. Incidentally, it also shows his parents having grown so accustomed to having each other to themselves that they too start to find it annoying to be living with Kevin again.
- The Chessmaster: In the unproduced episode Freaky Weekend, it's revealed that POSEY of all people is this. She subtly manipulates everyone during the entire trip so they'll end up choosing her destination.
- Clumsy Copyright Censorship: The DVD release of the series had to replace most of the copyrighted tracks used in the show with public domain music. It doesn't always mesh well, because the songs occasionally referenced part of the plot, such as Everybody Hurts playing over The Skiz being wheeled into an ambulance in Andy Vs The Real World and the whole cast singing the song in the ending. Another is Kevin watching 2001: A Space Odyssey, with the signature track being replaced with a generic sci-fi track. You can still guess what movie it's supposed to be from the dialogue, but it's very clumsy.
- Dismotivation: Andy. Taken to extremes when he loses his job. Gus mentions that he met hobos living in boxcars during The Great Depression in better shape than Andy during his slump.
- Do Wrong, Right: When Andy is applying for a job at Jim's company, but can't list his previous employers as references (Ron, his last boss went to prison for tax evasion and his boss at Dairy Queen hated him), Wally offers to lie for him, to Gus' disgust. When the employer calls for a reference, Wally gets cold feet, so Gus takes the phone and gives a glowing, fake recommendation.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Several characters can be seen in the establishing shot of Mission Hill in the first episode, before they're introduced as characters, such as George, The Republican Vampire, Sasha The Hipster and the Nice Freak.
- Either/Or Title: Each episode had two titles — one a clean title, the other a dirty one. Examples include:
- Andy Joins the PTA (Great Sexpectations).
- Andy vs the Real World (The Big-Ass Viacom Lawsuit).
- Andy and Kevin Make a Friend (One Bang for Two Brothers).
- Andy Gets a Promotion (How to Get Head in Business Without Really Trying).
- Happy Birthday Kevin (Happy Birthday, Douchebag).
- Plan 9 from Mission Hill (I Married a Gay Man from Outer Space).
- The unfinished Pretty In Pink (Crap Gets In Your Eyes).
- Epic Fail: When Andy takes Kevin bowling for his birthday. Kevin can barely lift the ball, and it stops halfway on the lane. However;Andy: Kev, you've got nothing to be ashamed of. Now that kid (points to Toby), he should be ashamed.
Toby hurls his ball down the lane, only to break the pin sweeper, set off the fire alarm, and turn on the sprinkler above him)
- Everyone Has Standards: Jim is a total slob who eats his own couch and spends most of his time getting drunk and high but even he thinks Andy's girlfriend, Shelly the stripper, is sleazy (and not in the good John Waters way) as seen in the episode "How to Get Head in Business Without Even Trying."
- Extreme Omnivore: Jim and Stogie. One episode has Jim and Stogie gradually eating the couch over the course of the episode.
- Fat Bastard: Ron the waterbed clerk (and, in the unaired/incomplete episode "Pretty in Pink," the new manager, who is pretty much Ron as a Southern gentleman). Toby when you get on his bad side, as Kevin found out in Andy Joins The PTA.
- Fat Comic Relief: While each of the "Jolly Boys" (Toby's mother's nickname for the nerdy trio of Kevin, George and Toby), are Buttmonkeys to a certain extent, the overweight Toby by far plays the biggest role as comic relief of the group.
- Fish out of Water: Kevin in the overall show, Andy in "The Big Ass Viacom Lawsuit" where he is completely unable to adapt to the life in The Real World house.
- Foil: Andy and Kevin. Andy is a world-weary slacker who spends his time drinking, trying to get laid, and griping about work instead of working. Kevin is an idealistic workaholic who spends his time studying, trying to get into a good college and playing video games.
- Funny Foreigner: Ron, he fills the role of "dusky, abrasive immigrant boss".
- "Friends" Rent Control: Played with early on, then averted. Andy is working at a water mattress store at (presumably) just above minimum wage, Posey is just there (though one episode, she did sell organic vegetables), and no one knew what Jim did for a living until Kevin came along, yet they live in a very spacious apartment (with a second floor!) in a decent building with neighbors they like, in a part of town that doesn't seem run-down or depressed (the apartment seems to be a converted industrial building). Then Jim is revealed to be a highly paid corporate executive with tons of clout for basically being a computer whiz. This isn't revealed until Andy loses his job and a tooth, and Jim lets him use his health insurance to have it fixed (and eventually gets him a job), because Andy never asked - even though he's Jim's best and oldest friend (though Kevin did take an interest in Jim's life).
- However, it's mentioned in "The Big Ass Viacom Lawsuit" that space in the city in general (and their building in particular) is rather cheap, but would become more expensive if The Real World continued filming there and attracting yuppies to the city.
- Future Me Scares Me: In the script for the unproduced "Death Of a Yale Man", Kevin has a vision of himself as he would be if he fails to get into Yale - A drunken, apathetic loser, who spends his time drinking and surfing for Internet porn, and still living with a now overweight and balding Andy. He freaks out so badly at the image that it convinces him to go forward with the plot of the episode, faking a lethal illness to get an honorary Yale scholarship.
- George Jetson Job Security: Originally, Andy was going to get a new job every eight episodes.
- Get Back in the Closet: Averted, as Gus and Wally aren't portrayed as stereotypically gay (though Wally has that effeminate voice that goes with being Camp Gay; it's just not as overblown as it is on other shows) and there was no censorship issues over it (no episode bans note or requests for a higher content rating).
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In an organ shop, there's a T-shirt that says "Kiss my organ", and a sign over a piano that says "Finger Me".
- On the episode where Kevin tries to crack the SAT code and Posey puts out an ad for massages (only to have men think she's a hooker who does erotic massages due to a misprint), when the pimp knocks at the door, Andy says, "Yeah, keep banging. That'll make me come faster."
- Girlfriend in Canada: Played straight with Kevin and George in the pilot, where Toby states that George had a girlfriend in Singapore, to which Kevin mentions that he used to claim that he had a girlfriend in Canada ("because it's so far away, no one could ever check"). He asks George if it's the same for him, whereupon he replies that "it's a more believable ethnic variation." Toby then yells at the two to stop bragging about their girlfriends.
- Girl of the Week: Andy had several, Kevin had one, and they fought over one.
- Go into the Light: The Near-Death Experience Kevin has in Porno For Pyro is played like this.
- Goofy Print Underwear: In one episode, Andy wears a pair of American Flag printed bikini underpants to a date with Gwen because it was the only clean pair he had left.
- Granola Girl: Posey; also a subversion, in that she had a mean streak and a capitalistic urge she was all too eager to indulge.
- Happy Ending Massage: A typo makes people think Posey's perfectly legit massage service is this.Posey: How is this ad misleading? "Let Posey's soft hands give you healing relief".
Andy: Uh, that says "release".
Posey: Oh my.
- Heel Realization: During Andy's stint as Ron's assistant manager, he becomes more and more like his boss, abandoning his artistic dreams for a life of sleaze and greed. It takes seeing a man laughing at one of his cartoons in the Weekly Freebie magazine to snap him out of it.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Andy and Jim.
- The Hedonist: Ron, to the point where even Andy considers him to be too sleazy.
- Honest John's Dealership: Ron's Waterbed World, Andy's workplace until Ron is arrested for tax evasion in episode 7. "Pretty in Pink" reveals it was bought by a man named Don.
- Hummer Dinger: Andy and Jim's subplot to the unmade "Death of a Yale Man" is them fighting with drivers of large SUVs. Identified by the script to be based on the Ford Expedition.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: See Either/Or Title above.
- Instrumental Theme Tune: Also an example of Real Song Theme Tune. An instrumental (and slightly sped up) version of Cake's "Italian Leather Sofa".
- Intergenerational Friendship: Everyone in the apartment building, to varying degrees, the youngest, not counting Baby Nameless who is only 1 at this point, being Kevin at 17, to Wally and Gus who are in their late 60s. Lampshaded in Plan 9 from Mission Hill (Or, I Married a Gay Man from Outer Space), where Kevin and Wally bond over classic movies.Kevin: So... you're not mad at me anymore? Are we still friends?
Wally: Sure. We're as close as an elderly gay man and a straight teenage boy can be.
- Irony: Andy tries to troll Kevin on his birthday to no effect as Kevin has had a bad enough day. He then decides to actually give Kevin a good birthday on his terms and ends up really making Kevin mad.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Andy is a lazy sleazebag but he does genuinely care about his friends and family.
- Major Injury Underreaction: In one episode, Gus has a KNIFE stabbed into his head that he refuses to get medical attention for, to the point where Wally resorts to welding miscellaneous junk to the knife so the added public gawking will force Gus to have the knife removed.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The episode about Gus and Wally's backstory made it clear that Wally is supposed to be Ed Wood, while Gus was his Tor Johnson, though they were apparently based on David Niven and Broderick Crawford, respectively.
- My Beloved Smother: Months of living independently makes Kevin realize his mother is this in the unproduced Bye Bye, Nerdie.
- No Name Given: Baby Nameless, the child of Carlos and Natalie, who they haven't named yet to avoid imprinting traditional gender roles upon him/her.
- Nerd/Geek: Kevin and his friends.
- Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Averted. Gus and Wally are a gay couple who are well into their 60s.
- Noodle Incident: The infamous "crisis". We never find out what exactly happened, only that because politicians were responsible, America had to rely on celebrities to fix everything. Steven Spielberg addressed the nation at one point, and there was a compound raid.
- When Gus gets a knife stuck in his head, the most explanation we get is "Some punk attacked me on the bridge; threw him over."
- Not What It Looks Like: Subversion; Kevin burned a convenience store while pleasuring himself to pornography, but no one believes that Kevin would do such a thing and place all the blame on school thugs Griffo and C-Dog.
- Odd Couple: Kevin and Andy.
- Older Than They Look: Compare Gus from Wally's flashback to the 1950s in Plan 9 From Mission Hill to any episode that takes place in present day. Gus doesn't appear to have aged a day in 50 years.
- Parental Favoritism: Mrs French blatantly favors Kevin over Andy, spoiling and mothering him relentlessly.
- Pluto Is Expendable: Wally and Gus's B-movie, The Man From Pluto!, is about a man from Pluto who comes to Earth for revenge after his planet is destroyed in a nuclear test.
- Poor Man's Porn: After Kevin is reprimanded in court for reading pornography he insists that he'll "stick to lingerie catalogues from now on"
- Raging Stiffie: Andy, after Shelley the stripper gives him a lap dance. He was about to leave, but looked down and decided to sit it out.
- Record Needle Scratch: When Andy is trying to tell Gwen he loves her in the unfinished "Pretty In Pink", he is completely drowned out by barking dogs and blaring salsa music from the surrounding buildings. Finally, he snaps and yells out "GWEN, I LOVE YOU!!!!" at which point the music abruptly stops.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: At first invoked with the boa constrictor Natalie rescues from an animal testing lab in Happy Birthday, Kevin, but ultimately subverted. At first it looks like the snake ate Baby Nameless, but in reality it only swallowed a baby monitor. The scripts for the unmade episodes reveals that the snake would have become the family pet.
- Roommate Com: It is set in Mission Hill, a neighborhood in the fictional city of Cosmopolis starring 24-year-old Andy Hill, his eccentric roommates, their even more eccentric neighbors, and Country Mouse brother. IMDb's even describes it as the "misadventures of a group of disparate roommates who live in a hip neighborhood in a major city", which couldn't summarize this trope any better if it tried.
- Quirky Town: The Mission Hill neighborhood, to the point that Kevin's parents are convinced that the neighborhood is unsafe for him and has him move to Wyoming with them in the script for the last planned episode "I Was A Teenage Porn Star".
- Running Gag: It's likely that if the series continued, the pervert would have made more appearances.
- Shown Their Work: Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein put enormous efforts to make bus schedules and traffic to make Mission Hill work as a city, something that's barely noticeable even if you are looking for it.
- Straight Gay: Wally and Gus are gay, but outside of acting like a couple would, you wouldn't know it, as they aren't stereotypically portrayed as such. Gus a bit more so than Wally.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Andy seems to view his abilities and life as much better than they actually are, except in cartooning, which he's actually pretty good at.
- Andy is a great example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.
- His life is pretty damn awesome. Minimal work for maximum profit (when he worked for Jim at the ad agency, not when he worked for Ron at the waterbed store), a sweet-ass apartment with neighbors he likes (a rarity) and the uncanny ability to charm most women who would be considered incredibly out-of-his-league.
- So Bad, It's Good: In-Universe Gus's acting on The Man From Pluto. The role was originally intended for Paul McNewman.Gus: "People of Oith! I greet yous from the Galastic Federation!"
- Subliminal Seduction: The unproduced Supertool episode would have revealed that all advertising is specifically designed with phallic imagery to prey on the sexually repressed nature of Americans.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Andy with Bugles and malt liquor, to the point where he essentially subsisted on Bugles during his apathetic unemployment phase after the waterbed store closed. The owner of the grocery store even nicknamed him "Malt liquor, Bugles".
- Jim is also seen almost every other episode eating a fast food burger.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Andy passes by Gus in the hall after Gus gets a knife stuck in his head and only says "Hey Gus."
- Verbal Backspace: In "Hot for Weirdie", Kevin has dinner with a girl from his school, her parents and Andy. Kevin tells Andy not to use her nickname "Weirdie".Andy: Pass the beans, Weirdie. [realises what he said] I mean, "where dee beans be... Weirdie"...
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: We never get an exact location for Cosmopolis, the city which contains Mission Hill; the official website stated that Mission Hill itself was a mix of several different locations, including Mission Hill in Boston (only miles away from where creator Bill Oakley went to college), Mission District in San Francisco, Silver Lake in Los Angeles, Wicker Park in Chicago, and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. We never actually see much outside of Mission Hill, either; the closest we get is the skyscrapers of Cosmopolis as a constant background fixture (much like the skyscrapers in Aqua Teen Hunger Force, which were recycled from SWAT Kats).
- You Can't Go Home Again: Kevin realizes this in episode 12, and in the last planned episode, both he and his parents realize that he has changed too much to live with them anymore.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The entire French family.
- X Called; They Want Their Y Back: When Andy and Posey are trying to distract Kevin (whose concentrating by constantly saying "Bling Blong), Andy tries "Hitler called, he wants his haircut back". Then starts goosestepping and chanting "I vant mein haircut back!"