"As if made to prove that film noir isn’t one genre, but all the genres, Steve Conrad’s Ultra City Smiths tackles its many creative departures with captivating verve, gliding from crime saga to sporadic musical to stop-motion animated whodunit, all while imbuing each with a spirit so bleak it makes the new series’ dreamy dancing between absurd comedy and moving drama absolutely stunning," Ben Travers says of the stop-motion animated series. "And yes, there is dancing — oh, is there ever." He adds: "It helps that the song-and-dance routines are mesmerizing in their stilted, stop-motion choreography and make for refreshing, out-of-nowhere surprises in each of the first three episodes. Like so many scenes in Ultra City Smiths, on their own, they’re incredibly strange: a bunch of baby doll heads repurposed into adult cops and sex workers, form a chorus line in Central Park while singing about where to go if you like getting kicked in the d*ck? OK! Sure! Why not!"
Ultra City Smiths doesn't feel like anything on TV: "It’s hard to call a series that resembles Robot Chicken by way of Team America: World Police by way of Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa wholly original, nor after three episodes do I know if the insidious hard-boiled narrative is going to come together as anything other than a whimsically warped amusement, but the blending of elements has already resulted in a series that doesn’t feel like anything else on TV," says Daniel Fienberg. He adds: "Mining terrain covered in countless pulp novels, Ultra City Smiths takes itself seriously as a mystery, and the construction of the setting is beautiful and full of surprising details, whether it’s the marquee titles of the red-light district’s movie theaters, graffiti in various grungy bathrooms, or the impeccably lit harbors, warehouses and subway cars where action is staged. There are disappearances and murders and looming threats, and you want to acknowledge their gravity even if it’s a world in which characters can wander around with their plastic arms in comically unnatural positions after an unfortunate accident. At the same time, because Ultra City Smiths takes itself extremely seriously, it’s extremely funny."