Animated 'Agent Elvis' Is A Triumph For Netflix

Elvis is back in the building, but this time he is animated and taking on forces of evil that are tearing the country apart.

That may sound like the world we live in now, but it is not. Instead, the jumping-off point for the new “Agent Elvis” -- starting Friday on Netflix -- is 1968, specifically December of that year.

That was when Elvis Presley was preparing for the prime-time special on NBC that would come to be known as the “’68 Comeback Special,” although it was officially titled “Singer Presents … Elvis,” sponsored by Singer.

At the time, the King of Rock ’n’ Roll had not performed live for seven years, during which he made a series of mostly terrible movies.



This is why this special was promoted as a “comeback,” although true Elvis fans never thought their hero had ever left, and thus was not in need of a comeback in the first place. They likely did not regard his movies as “terrible” either. 

In any case, as reported a few weeks ago here, “Agent Elvis” features a fanciful, reimagined, animated Elvis putting his trademark karate moves to good use pulverizing bad guys.

In the first half-hour episode of the series previewed by the TV Blog, the villain is a certain 1960s serial killer who tangles with the King and comes to regret it.

Before I go on, an opinion about this show: It is a triumph. I do not remember the last time I was this entertained.

“Agent Elvis” is silly. It is absurd. It is ridiculous. And therein lies its greatness. In the show, “Agent” Elvis is not employed by any real spy organization such as the CIA. Or at the very least, this is not specified.

However, he seems to have been targeted for death by secret operatives from another unidentified country.

In the premiere episode of “Agent Elvis,” we meet the cartoon king and his closest associates -- hapless childhood friend and general screw-up Bobby Ray (voiced by Johnny Knoxville) and a wild-partying superchimp named Scatter (pictured above, left). 

This is an animated show with an all-star cast, starting with Matthew McConaughey, an A-list movie star, providing the voice of Elvis.

Also featured: Kaitlin Olson as a female superspy who comes to Elvis’ rescue; Niecy Nash as Bertie, another member of the Presley household; and Don Cheadle, who is not heard in the premiere episode.

Priscilla Presley provides the voice of herself. In Episode 1, she is seen talking to Elvis on the phone while cradling their newborn daughter Lisa Marie, born earlier in the year on February 1.

Lisa Marie died earlier this year on January 12 at age 54. The first episode of “Agent Elvis” (and perhaps subsequent episodes too) carries a dedication to her at the end of the show: “Dedicated to the loving memory of Lisa Marie Presley.” 

Priscilla Presley is credited as co-creator of the show with John Eddie. It is strange to say, but as far-out as this wholly fictional Elvis is supposed to be, it can also be said that the character’s actions, utterances, observations and other mannerisms make you feel as if he could be the real Elvis or, at the very least, the character is very accurately based on the real man. 

Perhaps this was Priscilla’s contribution to the development of this show, and it is no small contribution either.

The show is a pleasure to watch, thanks to top-notch animation that, for reasons I cannot quite articulate, makes the whole thing work. Please note: In its language and in quite a bit of its subject matter, this “cartoon” is strictly for adults.

Two Elvis songs make it into the first episode of “Agent Elvis.” In the first instance, the King’s version of “Guitar Man” is heard while he is involved in fierce hand-to-hand combat with a would-be assassin beneath a “Nixon’s the One” billboard.

The second, “If I Can Dream,” is heard near the episode’s end. He performed both songs in the 1968 TV special.

“Agent Elvis” starts streaming on Friday (March 17) on Netflix.

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