My all-time favorite bit from when Conan was the host of Late Night was the Walker Texas Ranger lever. It never failed to earn a laugh from me, and Conan’s sheer glee at getting to use ridiculous clips completely out of context was always a delight. Conan’s production company Conaco produces Eagleheart, and it’s the first show other than O’Brien’s talk shows to last longer than one season. Adult Swim has done well with the 15-minute format, including medical soap spoof Children’s Hospital and action/procedural NTSF:SD:SUV::. The former has built a world that can include wild details such as clowns as a race and a Party Down reunion, while the latter still seems like an extended spoof.
Eagleheart lands somewhere in the middle of those other two, spinning each episode out from a familiar cop premise in outlandish directions. Almost every episode takes a cop show cliché and twists it, by making Chris Elliott’s Monsanto obliviously violent, Maria Thayer’s Susie overeager to the point of ridicule, or Brett Gelman’s Brett a complete and utter fool. The heart-wrenching cop origin story is the impetus for the season premiere. Monsanto wants to avenge his son, and Susie her college boyfriend, while Brett was only trying to get king crab legs from his favorite waiter. In the first metaphysical twist, Monsanto’s son comes back as a ghost to remind the retiring marshal that he still hasn’t solved his murder—or made enough routine drug busts. When the ghost struggles with a locked door, the whole history starts to unravel.
Monsanto’s son is actually an older man, played by Steven Anthony Lawrence—better known to me as Beans from Disney Channel show Even Stevens. His manipulation of each member of Monsanto’s team, and his actual origin, are the first steps away from winking Walker spoof, with gratuitous blood spurts and celebrations of a 972nd bloodbath, and into a more metaphysical direction.
Eagleheart does a great job of riffing on cop shows like Walker, but the moment that takes it from reliably funny spoof to an even more entertaining and surreal level is the moment in the cake shop. The suggestion that Monsanto’s bloodbaths are predestined, and those brutal killings are already mapped out is a total mindfuck, but all Brett cares about is paying full price for stale cakes. These bizarre moments don’t carry over into other episodes of the show, so Brett getting careless with one of the cake versions of himself may sever one of his legs here, and the Chief may be a ghost, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Michael Gladis showed up later in the season in such a way that became a recurring joke.
I like pretty much everything about Eagleheart, and it looks like everything from the first season is only going to get more expansive and weird. The series makes fun of a type of police show that I’ve always found ridiculous, and Elliott, Gelman, and Gladis give great comedic performances, especially Gladis’ Orson Welles impression as the Chief. There isn’t as much of a focus on world building as in Children’s Hospital, but it’s a consistently funny quarter-hour, another solid piece of the Adult Swim lineup.
- The shotgun-in-the-sandwich trick—one of the oldest in the book; can’t believe that guy fell for it. Also great is the gunshot effect that comes out of the Chief’s megaphone after Monsanto shoots the perp in the mouth.
- I’ve seen the first few episodes of this season on screener, so I’ll be able to put reviews up right after the episodes air for the next few weeks, but during the rest of the season, reviews will go up a bit later in the night.