Rip and Raquel Smashenburn are your basic Nintendo-ready denizens. He’s a wipeout-prone race car driver; she’s a Lara Croft look-alike who hunts artifacts. Game Over is, however, more concerned with what happens when Rip and Raquel (voiced impeccably by Patrick Warburton and Lucy Liu) return to their suburban home and their teenage kids, Alice (”Saturday Night Live”’s Rachel Dratch) and Billy (voice vet E.G. Daily).
With its mischievous tweak on family sitcoms and affinity for the weird and random (there’s a character named Ken who owns a trophy shop; Ken is a troll who has a mole…named Mike – and neither will be undersold!), ”Game Over” has screwy roots in ”The Simpsons,” ”The Tick,” and ”3rd Rock From the Sun,” where its creative-team members cut their teeth. The ambitious comedy references digitalia from ”Vice City” to ”Pong,” but it’s funniest when exploiting its pixelated universe. Raquel’s neighbor/nemesis, for example, is the videogame epitome of the Woman Who Does It All: Dark Princess, a warrior who has a full-time job battling bad guys but also has time to help with her daughter’s school play, ”Ninja on the Roof.”
The series similarly gooses spousal rivalry: If the average real-life couple is competitive, consider a videogame twosome who are programmed, literally, to win. As for the kids, they’re searching for their place in the world (otherwise known as awaiting ”game assignment”) and are, like any teens, oft repulsed by their parents (”Inside, I’m vomiting,” screeches Alice when her folks flirt). ”Game” uses them to take some nice nips at goggle-eyed adolescent consumerism: Debating what to name a pet, Billy suggests either ”Nike” or ”Peterson’s Down-Home Clam Dip.” The only iffy character, actually, would be the family dog (voiced by the ”Howard Stern Show”’s Artie Lange), whose cigar-chomping, vice-ridden ways are supposed to be outrageous counterprogamming to Pokemon cuteness. Too often, though, he’s just annoyingly intrusive, like an alcoholic version of Scrappy-Doo.
It’s a small matter, considering ”Game”’s sharp dialogue and a cast that delivers 3-D range. Dratch’s angsty activist Alice channels a teen Lisa Simpson, Daily lends Billy a dazed sweetness, and Lucy Liu’s type A purr is perfect for a lady who cooks turkey with her ray gun. A big thanks, also, to creator David Sacks for landing his ”Tick” star another gig. Warburton’s voice has such a bouncy hamminess you smile just hearing it, and his bumbling, adoring Rip is one of the most amiable family men on television – real or otherwise.