Space Ghost Coast To Coast: Volume One (DVD)

Space Ghost Coast To Coast: Volume One (DVD)

Has television ever produced a more casually avant-garde comedy than Space Ghost Coast To Coast? From the deepest regions of the Cartoon Network's schedule, Space Ghost, now released from its late-night slot in DVD form, uses the rigid, predictable template of the late-night talk show as the platform for some of the most audacious and unpredictable stream-of-consciousness comedy ever to grace the small screen. Hosted by one of the Hanna-Barbera shit factory's third-rate superheroes, who never quite grasps that his guests don't have superpowers and/or secret identities, Space Ghost co-stars the eponymous hero's one-time enemies, now turned passive-aggressive sidekicks: bandleader Zorak, an evil space mantis regularly mistaken for a locust, and director Moltar, a gravel-voiced lava man. Contempt is the glue that holds Space Ghost together. Zorak seethes with resentment for Space Ghost, Space Ghost blasts Zorak into charcoal on a semi-regular basis, and both characters routinely display their disdain for the show's guests. The elements that conventional talk shows try desperately to avoid–awkward silences, anxious exchanges, dead time, weird vibes, hostility between the host and his guests–make up Space Ghost's basic building blocks. Like the similarly subversive Da Ali G Show, Space Ghost pushes its oblivious celebrity guests into uncomfortable straight-man roles, forcing them to interact with a host who seems uninterested when he's not openly hostile. Space Ghost's guests (mainly the likes of Bob Denver, Adam West, the Jerky Boys, and Donny Osmond, along with a smattering of hipster favorites like Schoolly D and the Ramones) come on the show expecting merely to plug their latest book or project, and end up at the center of an animated theater of the absurd. There's something wonderfully transgressive about the way Space Ghost appropriates characters wholesale from Hanna-Barbera, a studio whose lazily animated oeuvre constitutes one long crime against the form. The series suggests what might have happened if, rather than suing cartoonist Dan O'Neill for copyright violation, a less image-obsessed Disney had hired O'Neill and his scruffy band of counterculture Air Pirates to produce their own gleefully subversive Mickey Mouse shorts.

Filed Under: DVD

More DVD Review