Pillbox

Tyson trades knockouts for Scooby-Doo

Have you ever thought that the work of Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Cormac McCarthy, which includes such highly-lauded works as Blood Meridian, The Road, and All the Pretty Horses, was missing something? Perhaps quotation marks? Perhaps more sex? Perhaps, bird sex? If you said yes to any of these, then Mike Tyson Mysteries is the show you’ve been waiting for. The new Adult Swim show, styled after Scooby-Doo and other cartoons of the late 1960s, features a surprisingly all-star voice cast of Mike Tyson as Mike Tyson, Norm MacDonald as an alcoholic pigeon, Rachel Ramras as Tyson’s adopted daughter Yung Hee, and Jim Rash as the ghost of the ninth Marquess of Queensberry. (Yes, this article has been fact-checked.)

The premise of Mike Tyson Mysteries is simple enough. Tyson, known for his hard-partying and hard-punching ways, has decided to lower his fists to help the world by solving mysteries. He receives pleas for help via a fleet of carrier pigeons he keeps stored in a shed behind his pool, and his team of companions head out in their truck to crack the case.

The supporting cast of unique characters is one of the best parts of the show. The Pigeon was once a man, but was turned into a pigeon by his ex-wife. He spews venomous insults and sarcastic comments constantly, with a drink perpetually clutched in his wing. Yung Hee, Tyson’s adopted daughter, was left on Tyson’s doorstep as a baby and is a typical over-achieving young woman who constantly bugs Tyson about looking at colleges. Tyson credits his reformed life to Yung Hee, who he claims spoke to him the day he found her on the front steps. But the credit for that actually goes to the Marquess, an egotistical and neurotic ghost.

Despite the harebrained concept, it appears from the first two episodes of Mike Tyson Mysteries that the show is aimed at a much more diverse demographic than one would expect.

The first episode, “The End,” had the Tyson crew answering a plea from a blocked Cormac McCarthy to help finish his novel. The team arrives to aid the struggling author, only to find that a chupacabra is lurking in the night, sucking the blood out of McCarthy’s horses. The show abounds with specific and — if you get them — hilarious literary jokes. In one memorable scene, Pigeon struggles to find an erotic sequence to pleasure himself to while reading the McCarthy draft, “It’s nothing but cowboys talking to other cowboys. McCarthy’s a prude; he’s no John Updike! I like those John Updike women. Those middle-aged, tan gals.”

One of the more hilarious aspects of the show is the horrible quality of Tyson’s voice acting. He sounds incredibly awkward, and the things the writers have him say only work to highlight it. In response to learning of McCarthy’s reclusive nature, Tyson lisps his way through, “Did his face burn off in a fire, and he had a messed up face, and now he’s afraid of his face?” It’s always amusing to see celebrities parody themselves, and Mike Tyson Mysteries takes it to a whole new level merely because of how horrible an actor Tyson is.

Episode two, “Ultimate Judgment Day,” sees Yung Hee participating in a chess competition, orchestrated by an evil Thomas Watson, against “Deep Blue,” an IBM supercomputer, and Tyson punching out chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov because he assumes him to be the grandmaster of the Ku Klux Klan. There’s a great scene involving a cryogenically frozen Bobby Fischer, but I’ll let you find out about that one for yourself.

Overall, it’s hard to say how I feel about Mike Tyson Mysteries. It exists in a Twilight Zone — it makes no sense, yet it also makes perfect sense. It has all the facets of a dumb-brain comedy, yet surprises with clever plot elements and highbrow references. If you’re at all intrigued, tune in to Adult Swim on Mondays at 10:30 p.m., and remember the words to that famous old song: “Ain’t got no time for bird sex, I wanna fly!”