TV Picks: 'Future-Worm!' with guest Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Ashley Jensen in 'Agatha Raisin'

"Future-Worm!" (Disney XD, Mondays). Ryan Quincy, who created IFC's 2013 "Out There," a lovely small-town coming-of-age cartoon in which he did not bother to make his characters look consistently human, is back in a noisier way with this Disney XD slapstick sci-fi series about a boy and his best friend, a big talking worm with a bushy blond hairdo and beard, rock-hard abs, the manner of a B-movie action hero and a lunchbox-shaped time machine. (Web shorts appeared last year; the TV series is new.)

Cartoons about young humans and their animal/supernatural/alien or all-of-the-above friends are not unusual — "Adventure Time," "Sanjay and Craig," "Steven Universe," "The Fairly OddParents" — but the series distinguishes itself with a brand of speed and nuttiness and the way in which Danny (Andy Milonakis) and Future-Worm (James Adomian) use time travel to extremely banal ends (which seem often to be related to food): a trip to the year 3000 to cure Danny's slushy-induced brain freeze, on a medical reality show starring a T. Rex in a lab coat; going back in time to buy a favorite cereal before it's sold out; traveling 20 minutes into the future because that's too long to wait for a pizza to be delivered. Monsters are often the result of these travels.

The regular cast also includes Jessica DiCicco as Bug, a fairy in cowboy boots; Melanie Lynskey, from "Togetherness," as Danny's mom; and Quincy as Danny's dad. RoboCarp, a takeoff on "Doctor Who's" K-9 Guest voices, include Selma Blair, Jack McBrayer, Chelsea Peretti, Paul Williams, Noel Wells, Andy Daly, David Koechner and science guy Bill Nye.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson appears in the premiere episode as himself, but superheroically muscular and telepathic. Jonathan Frakes is the voice of Steak Starbolt, a humanoid steak superhero Danny watches on TV. Justin Roiland, co-creator with Dan Harmon of Adult Swim's "Rick and Morty" and the voice of Rick, recognizably guest stars as the holographic mascot that comes with Danny's from-the-future chemistry set. ("I had to go to the year 3780 to get this set," says Danny, "so technically I’ve been waiting 1,764 years to play with this.")

This star power may mean nothing to the kids in the crowd but their influence may be subtly felt. (I am who I am, in part, because of Hans Conried, Daws Butler, Paul Frees and Mel Blanc.)

Unusually, the half-hour series, which debuts Monday, is divided into three segments of differing lengths: a standard 11-minute episode, a seven-minute episode and a three-minute episode.  

"Agatha Raisin" (Acorn TV, beginning Monday). The not merely delightful Ashley Jensen, late of "Ugly Betty" and "Extras" and currently also of "Catastrophe," stars in this sprightly comical mystery series, as a London PR phenom who gives up the high-powered city life for a house in the Cotswolds and an unexpected life of amateur detection. (It's one of those picturesque fictional villages unusually prone to murder, and to the messy human behaviors that lead to it. This is your complicated, genteel brand of homicide.)

After a film-length pilot slightly top-heavy with exposition and the need to get Agatha (Jensen) from clueless outsider to clue-sniffing sleuth in her new home, the series shifts into gear with an eight-episode series that visits many of the settings and themes you'd expect from a country-life mystery: fairs, baking contests, property rights, church-bell ringing. (The pilot is titled "The Quiche of Death.")

There are romantic elements (Agatha has her eye on neighbor James, played by Jamie Glover, who isn't exactly looking back, but isn't exactly not looking either); comical policemen (Matt McCooey, Jason Barnett) in need of her help; and spiky helpers/best friends in her old city assistant (Mathew Horne) and new country housekeeper (Katy Wix).

It is great to see Jensen, a secret weapon wherever she goes, in the lead. Fans of "Rosemary & Thyme," "Midsomer Murders," "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" and "Mr. and Mrs. Murder" should be pleased.

The pilot film premieres Monday. The eight-episode series, based on novels by Marion Chesney (writing as M.C. Beaton), airs the following Monday.

On Twitter @LATimesTVLloyd

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