Eagleheart: “Honor Thy Marshal”
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Eagleheart: “Honor Thy Marshal”

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Eagleheart

“Honor Thy Marshal”

Season 2, Episode 8

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“Honor Thy Marshal” is Eagleheart’s version of “Newsreaders,” a stellar episode of Childrens Hospital that turns the medical soap opera send-up into a Behind the Music-style documentary about the phenomenon of the show. On Eagleheart, adding another metatextual layer isn’t a documentary crew, but a recruitment video for the US Marshals. And if the episode remained in straight-faced, direct-address mode it would still succeed, but following standard Eagleheart procedure, a surreal left-turn with a guest appearance by executive producer Conan O’Brien pushes the show off another high-dive, looping back on its own Walker, Texas Ranger lampooning into even more layered parody.

At first, Monsanto addressing the camera is just really funny. His quips about his favorite part about being a marshal, the entire cast’s reaction to the end of a typically gratuitous training exercise that still leaves behind a body littered with bullets, and the '70s style interstitial titles all frame the recruitment video like the PriceMart training video from That 70s Show with a bit of a Love Boat bent.

Monsanto tries to sell the marshal experience with a montage ripped straight from those awful compilation CD collections, with a scrolling list of devastating fight moves. Eagleheart is a parody of Walker, Texas Ranger on the foundational level, but it builds on top of that fertile material with even more references, which makes the commercials and recruitment video style fit right in with the show’s already highly surreal humor.

Susie gets another scene that skewers gender roles in the workplace. She praises the increase in her word quota in the office each month, up to over 400 words, which even comes with rollover words, shifting the scene slightly into a cell phone ad. But then a counter appears, and she runs out of words, awkwardly staying silent to go back to work, even avoiding answering a phone because she’s afraid to speak. I never expected Eagleheart to comment so forcefully on gender equality in the workplace or elsewhere in life, but though Susie may be much maligned by the men on the show, at least that technique is in service of a larger, salient point.

The extra layer of the episode comes with the title. Honor Thy Marshal is a fictional television show produced by Conan O’Brien starring Marshal Chris Monsanto as a Texas Ranger, with scenes that are direct references to Chuck Norris on Walker, from the costuming to the fighting style to the thinly veiled racism—one episode is titled “Murder He Rope” for the ethnic mispronunciation. But Conan bet on the wrong horse, banking on the viability of the sidekick’s catchphrase, causing the show to air a clip show as it’s third episode before completely flaming out.

Eagleheart has been on fire this season, delivering so many laughs it’s hard to keep up with every single throwaway line from Brett. “Honor Thy Marshal” is another great example of the relentless laughter with a surreal twist that the show aims for each week. It all starts with that Walker, Texas Ranger lever—and I’m glad this week delivered some more solid body blows to just how ridiculous that show was—but what really makes Eagleheart endlessly entertaining and fascinating is how it builds off of that initial inspiration into 70s television, commercials, and metanarrative in order to spin out more complex jokes to feed off the foundational humor.

Stray observations:

  • The other commercial is for MarshalBoost, an energy supplement that is obviously just a ton of cocaine for everyone to snort.
  • Of course Brett’s pastor says the dinosaurs died out because they turned gay. 

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