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Thursday, August 13, 1998 Published at 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK


US piles stress on Eric

Bad press. Just what he needs, more stress

As if making his US debut wasn't stressful enough, Stressed Eric has come in for a hammering from critics across the Atlantic.

The cartoon about a middle-class divorcee struggling with two children and a crippling mortgage was premiered by America's NBC on Wednesday.

Shown on BBC 2 earlier this year, it's the first British animated sitcom to make it on to prime time US TV.

[ image: Eric redubbed into English]
Eric redubbed into English
To smooth Eric Feeble's transition into American homes, his voice was redubbed using the familiar accent of Hank Azaria from The Simpsons fame.

But as one reviewer put it, the character and the humour may be too English to prosper from the nationality transplant.

Spicy promotion

Stressed Eric was always going to be compared to the other adult cartoon favourites The Simpsons and South Park.

NBC billed Eric as "edgier" than any American cartoon and claimed it was "spicier" than the controversial South Park which features foul-mouthed children amid scenes of gore and mutilation.

[ image: Critics call it tame]
Critics call it tame
The review in USA Today decided that the humour of Stressed Eric was strangely tame in comparison.

"Eric lacks the anarchy of South Park or the subversive social satire of The Simpsons. And it's not as funny as either one," it said.

The Washington Post review said the cartoon seemed mainly an imitation The Simpsons and King of the Hill.

"When Stressed Eric can't be clever, it's gross and offensive," it concluded.

Variety's reviewer warmed to the show however, describing it as wry and smart with scenes that were "sadistic yet wickedly funny at the same time."

Eric vs Homer

Eric himself was compared to the best-known cartoon loser Homer Simpson.

USA today said he was an accident-prone office drone under constant, but only intermittently amusing, stress.

[ image: Unlike The Perfects - Eric doesn't measure up]
Unlike The Perfects - Eric doesn't measure up
The Washington Post described Eric as an "imbecilic stumblebum" who deserved what he got.

"Feeble never achieves the mock-heroic status of, say, Fox's immortal Homer Simpson, who also is continually embroiled in one-sided battles waged against him by a hostile universe. Eric Feeble is just a fool getting a fool's just rewards," the Post went on.

Again, Variety took a liking to Eric, describing him as a "loveable loser".

"The show's antihero is so unfathomably pathetic that he makes Homer Simpson look like Bill Gates," the review said.

Stressed Eric has a six-week run in the states although there are a further 13 episodes available if the punters take to him better than the critics.

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