‘Agent Elvis’ series review: Fun but best consumed in tiny doses

Putting too much into the pot by way of violence, celebrity cameos, and random jokes, ‘Agent Elvis’ turns into a downer that has outstayed its welcome

March 20, 2023 04:18 pm | Updated 04:18 pm IST

A still from ‘Agent Elvis’

A still from ‘Agent Elvis’ | Photo Credit: Netflix

The adult animated show Agent Elvis is that ultimate ‘What if.‘ The show, co-created by Elvis Presley’s former wife, Priscilla Presley, is inspired by real events including Elvis’s meeting with former US President Richard Nixon. The show sees Elvis putting his superstardom and Karate (he had a blackbelt and was a Karate instructor in real life) to use working for the ultra-secret TCB all the while excelling in his day job as a bonafide rockstar.

Agent Elvis (English)
Creators: John Eddie, Priscilla Presley
Voice Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Kaitlin Olson, Johnny Knoxville, Niecy Nash, Tom Kenny, Don Cheadle, Jim Meskimen, Tara Strong, Asif Ali, Jason Mantzoukas
Episodes: 10
Runtime: 25 minutes
Storyline: Apart from being a super famous and successful, Elvis Presley discovers hidden talents in espionage

Each of the short episodes features walk-on parts by historical personages including mass murderer Charles Manson (Fred Armisen), psychedelic guru Timothy Leary (Chris Elliott), celebrated director Stanley Kubrick (Dee Bradley Baker), genius aviator and producer Howard Hughes (Jason Mantzoukas), President Nixon (Gary Cole), Beatle’s Paul McCartney (Simon Pegg), actor Kurt Russell (Jamie Costa), and Pricilla as herself. There is also Elvis director Baz Luhrmann directing Presley (cannot get more meta than that!) and the disembodied head of Walt Disney.

The show begins in 1968, Burbank, with Elvis Presley (Matthew McConaughey) hanging out with his bestie Bobby Ray (Johnny Knoxville) and psychotic chimpanzee Scatter (Tom Kenny). Bertie (Niecy Nash) is a mother figure to Elvis, and since nothing can be what it seems, she is actually dating Captain Kirk! The Manson family targets Elvis while a woman, CeCe (Kaitlin Olson), tells him about the spy organisation TCB (The Central Bureau).

Elvis is quickly drawn into the shadowy world of the TCB, which as the Commander (Don Cheadle) explains has been recruiting celebrities forever — counting Mark Twain and Ben Franklin among its agents. Gregory Peck, the Commander reveals, “is kind of a moron.”

Apart from CeCe in the TCB, there is Doyle (Asif Ali) who went to Columbia Law School, but now has the thankless job of being the Commander’s assistant, picking up his dry cleaning; and Hughes, the weird, unhinged quartermaster whose gadgets are as brilliant and unreliable as himself.

The moon landing inspires Elvis to space travel, while the Altamont Free Concert is where the Commander sends him for his first mission — retrieving a sonic weapon that turns people into homicidal maniacs. Elvis’s second mission is breaking and entering the White House. Elvis later finds himself in Vietnam performing for the troops as well as finding the aforementioned sonic mind control weapon. Things are complicated when their guide is Roxanne (Christina Hendricks), CeCe’s mum.

Naturally, for the Vietnam part, there are references galore from Apocalypse Now, including the death of a water buffalo and the choppers against the sun. Leary, who says he invented “the hallucinogenic business model,” has to be found, Elvis is getting strange flashbacks, the Commander knows more than he is saying, and an ultra-secret facility has to be broken into with a plastercast of a penis.

All comes right finally with the sonic mind control weapon in a shark’s mouth, George Lucas finding inspiration for the light sabre (which he first calls the laser sword), and a sunset, thanks to the Commander’s insistence on all missions “ending with flying into the sunset.”

There are jokes both crude and classy, including a running gag of Elvis being over the hill at 33, and CeCe waxing eloquent about Jim Morrison and The Doors as well as the radioactive nature of Hughes’ urine and other scatological stuff.

The music is expectedly good featuring anthems of the 60s and 70s, with Jefferson Airplane’s ‘One Pill’ making its presence felt. The animation style is all bright colours, exaggerated angles, pops of gore and exploding eyeballs. The voice work is outstanding with McConaughey leading the way. Elvis addresses the charge against him for appropriating Black music.

Agent Elvis is fun when it does not try too hard. The episodes shoot off on wild tangents creating the feeling of an endless psychedelic trip. By putting too much into the pot by way of violence, celebrity cameos and random jokes, Agent Elvis does itself no favours and turns into a downer that has outstayed its welcome. Agent Elvis is best consumed in tiny doses.

Agent Elvis is currently streaming on Netflix

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