May 25th: "P.R. Klok/Pile M For Murder/Hands Up/The Funeral" S2008
Good news, everyone! Bowing to the will of the republic, The A.V. Club Watches Adult Swim Because I Don't Leave The House On Weekends has been split into two easy to swallow entries, Saturday Night Action Etc. and Sunday Night Meta-Madness. Thus, anime-haters will have one comment section, while those despising absurdist [blank] will be free to vent in another. (The people who don't like Venture Bros will, I hope, continue to not exist.)
Metalocalypse follows Pickle's family reunion from last week with another initially Pickle-heavy episode, "P.R. Klok"; the drunken drummer has hired his own publicist, and the other members of Dethklok are raging with jealousy. Also with rage, but mostly, jealousy. While the Pick goes on a whirlwind tour of game shows ("Cashtastrophe," were you either win a million dollars or get killed by it), movie premieres, and awards ceremonies, Nathan and the crew embark on their own P.R. campaign to promote themselves in places that nobody ever sees. But it turns out Pickle's new P.R. lady is using his growing popularity to recruit members to her secret cult, and the whole thing climaxes in a cosmic orgy of blood, metal, and comeuppance-getting madness.
Dethklok is at its best when following the path of Homer Simpson and putting in the greatest effort towards the worst ideas. There's the obvious joke of the most popular band in the world really needing to worry about getting it's name out, but I dug the little touches as well, like Nathan constantly undercutting Murderface's attempts at authority, and the way Toki is initially excluded from 'Klok's schemes because he happens to be standing on the other side of the room when the planning starts. Some of Pickle's drunken rambles go on a little long, but for the most part, this is as good as the series gets, especially the nicely choreographed musical finale. It's funny, though; did anybody else notice that the Tribunal, nominally Dethklok's greatest foe, was relegated to purely exposition delivery yet again? Not that I have a problem hearing Mark Hamill and Malcom McDowell talking about "achieving immortality by taking over the body of French people," but here's hoping they take a slightly more active role in the future.
Squidbillies was fairly half-assed this week; even the episode title, "Pile M For Murder" is lame. Dan Halen gets a Field Of Dreams moment during his ritual hair brushing and embarks on a plan to build Mount Murder, while at the Cuyler household, Rusty's given anyway the entire mud crop for free, much to the chagrin of Early. The family tries to rebuild by going "muddin'," but a momentary philosophical crisis leads to a Google search on the whys and whatfors of digging up the ground with a four by four, a kiddie bike and a Segway. (Man, is there any more reliably funny personal transportation device than a Segway? Seeing Jeff Bridges ride one around in Iron Man was comedy gold.) Sadly, the computer has been hollowed out to make a kitty litter box, but Grannie perseveres by falling off a cliff, not dying, and getting burned alive in a coffin.
There's more stuff with Dan and his nutty, Satan-worshipping type amusement park with frog plagues and free foam skulls, but the A and B stories never really connect, and the final twist, with Dan getting upstaged by nearby Homicide Hill, was a fairly uninspired. It's the sort of thing you could see Aqua Teen Hunger Force doing, only better. Still, no mention of orange bugs in green crap this week, which is a nice bonus for me.
Speaking of asses (which I think I was, like, two paragraphs ago), I have a horrible confession to make: this week's Assy McGee, "Hands Up," actually made me laugh. A lot. Watching these shows for review, I usually keep one eye on them when they initially air on the TV, and then re-watch them with my full attention online–I'll need to test it again for Science, but "running in the background while I play Word Challenge on Facebook" might actually be the ideal venue for McGee appreciation.
Whatever the reason, "Hands" really nailed the cop-show parody this week, from the bizarre, convoluted criminal enterprise (stealing old people's bodies to use as crash test dummies), to Assy having to turn in his badge after shooting a paraplegic ("Nobody told me what that means!") and solving the case on his own time, to the predictable telling-what-he's-figured-out-to-the-one-person-who'd-kill-to-keep-it-secret. For the first time, I got an idea of what the show was aiming for; sure, there's the usual bevy of "Ohmigod, that's totally a walking ass doing that!" gags (ass getting shaved? Funny. Ass eating a chocolate donut? Not Funny), but the possibility of an actual Comedy Philosophy makes me curious to see more.
The evening ended with a complete airing of Brad Neely's China, IL, a web-based cartoon miniseries originally hosted on the Super Deluxe site. "The Funeral" followed Mark "Baby" Cakes, a Lenny-type man-child who narrates much of the show through diary entries. One day, Baby finds the diary of a woman who died in a car crash ("Professor Lady"), and in reading her venting about the people around her and her boyfriend, Professor Frank, Baby falls in love. He goes to the funeral, watches Frank flip out, tells Frank how Lady really felt about him, and the two ultimately bond over her grave, even though Frank is naked and "it's illegal to be naked around dead people."
The Adult Swim comedy line-up is not really known for the quality of its animation, but this is about as low-fi as it gets. "Funeral" is mostly a series of static shots with occasional moderate movement, and the drawings have the loose look of math paper sketches. But the show has its charms; it's laidback and mellow, and the four songs that Baby and Professor Frank sing have a Zen stupidity to them that makes for a nice way to close out the night. There are no official plans for more China episodes, but "Funeral" could possibly serve as a test run for a longer series (the fact that it's "Episode 1" is a tip-off), which could be cool. At the very least, it means not having to go to sleep with a vomiting anthropomorphic ass as the last thing you see, and that is something I would be okay with.
Metalocalypse, "P.R. Klok": A
Squidbillies, "Pile M For Murder": B-
Assy McGee, "Hands Up": B+
China, IL, "The Funeral": B+
-I missed it, but apparently The Onion got name-checked during one of the AS bumpers. Anybody catch that?
-The Killer Nurse on Assy McGee sounded a lot like Holly Hunter. I thought about checking to see if it really was her, but the possibility scared me too much.
Sex And The City opens this Friday. It's two and a half hours long. This has nothing to do with Adult Swim, it just kind of pisses me off.
Venture Bros. One week.