January 4, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Bordertown”


BORDERTOWN:  Sunday 9:30PM on FOX – Change the Channel

BORDERTOWN adds a light dusting of politics to its Seth MacFarlane factory settings.  Produced by MacFarlane, and created by Family Guy writer/producer Mark Hentemann (the writing credit on the pilot is shared with “La Cucaracha” cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz, but since Alcaraz is credited only as a Consulting Producer, he doesn’t seem to be a significant part of the series going forward), it’s set in “Mexifornia,” and its Peter Griffin-esque lead (obese, lovably bigoted dad) is Bud Buckwald (voiced by Hank Azaria), an idiot who works as a border guard.  Bud, like American Dad‘s Stan Smith, is a true-blue American who despises all things Mexican, including his next-door neighbor Ernesto Gonzalez (Nicholas Gonzalez), so imagine his horror when daughter Becky (Alex Borstein) falls in love with Ernesto’s liberal intellectual (i.e., ineffectual) son JC (also Gonzalez)!

Mexifornia has passed an anti-immigrant proposition reminiscent of Arizona’s recent news, and Bordertown is more or less against it (JC, despite being American-born, is fired out of an American-flag-laden cannon across the border as a result of the law), but that’s about as politically involved as Bordertown gets.  Mostly, it’s an occasion for familiar MacFarlane-ish gags about ugly women, anal probes, beer, farts and general stupidity, with animation that’s crude by primetime network standards.  Even the voices are familiar to Sunday night FOX viewers, and a brief appearance by an angry Virgin Mary aside, there’s little of the surreal imagination that enlivened American Dad‘s version of the MacFarlane formula, or characters as engaging as Family Guy‘s Stewie and Brian.  With a 9:30PM Sunday berth, the idea is clearly that Family Guy viewers will stay tuned for an accented rehash of what they’ve just been watching, and that may work in the ratings, but creatively speaking, Bordertown already feels ready for deportation before its opening half-hour is even done.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."