Eagleheart: “Tinselwood”
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Eagleheart: “Tinselwood”

A quarter-hour show can barely even support one plot in an episode. More often than not the Adult Swim shows eschew a traditional plot completely, instead stringing sketches with the same characters (or different pop culture references in the case of Robot Chicken). It’s miraculous that Childrens Hospital manages to juggle so many characters and a few different soap opera threads in one episode, but Eagleheart works in a different way. It’s not playing with typical procedural plots, instead riffing on seemingly antithetical genres while finding a way to weave in Monsanto and the other marshals. Tonight, several different Hollywood plots got outlandish send-ups, from the somewhat main noir crime investigation to the meteoric rise and fall of an ingénue, to the perils of remaking a classic.

As the episode opens, an old-timey film editor puts together the “In Memoriam” sequence for the Show Business Awards, and is confused to find himself tacked onto the end of the montage, just before he’s shot from behind. The mysterious killer is hunting down anyone related to Partners In Crime, Agent Monsanto’s favorite movie—and all of the fake stars, from vaudeville performers to a once-prominent actor now down on his luck, pop in every so often to reel off a joke between scenes. Partners In Crime a film he defends so fiercely he went so far as to frame Gene Shalit for spousal abuse for giving Partners in Crime a bad review. Naturally, he sets off with Brett and Susie for Tinselwood, the hub of all entertainment production, in order to solve a crime that ignites Monsanto’s rage.

The three marshals arrive in a car with a terribly projected background, as Brett marvels at the landmarks, including “World’s Biggest Bitch.” More than any of the other episodes so far this season, “Tinselwood” lets the jokes fly fast and furious. Almost every other line lands some sort of joke, showing off the Map of Faded Stars, insulting failed actors as the only life forms below actors, and a ton of Monsanto’s trademark Chuck Norris-via-David Caruso zingers. This episode doesn’t function as a direct parody of life in Hollywood, but instead takes a few stabs at comedic sendups of familiar stories set in southern California, like an SNL version of Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.

One of the best extended sketches is Susie becoming the new “It” girl, living through the rise an fall of a star in Hollywood, only played out through the exceedingly glamorous life of a pharmacist at a drug store. The headlines in newspapers and magazines during this sequence are really funny, and Susie is completely oblivious to what she’s selling, including jugs of formaldehyde to a suspicious looking man. But in no time, Susie gets replaced by the next rising star, and she’s reduced to the pharmacist equivalent of porn—selling drugs out of the trunk of a car, where Monsanto and Brett discover her when they’re looking to track down their culprit, the director of the original Partners In Crime.

It turns out the original director couldn’t get his former cast members to star in a parody remake titled Fartners In Slime, so he systematically killed them to use their corpses in the film. Since Monsanto employs his typical ultraviolence, ED LeVain can’t finish his masterpiece, but after the marshals watch the unfinished film, they’re crying, laughing, screaming in terror, and have to finish the movie. Of course, it’s a huge flop, and we’re treated to another round of spinning periodicals and ridiculous headlines, before Eagleheart takes a signature surreal turn to show the various faux-vaudeville performers in heaven and hell. “Tinselwood” ends up as a surprisingly layered meta-parody of the noir genre and filmmaking. It has a decidedly golden age of cinema feel to the comedy, but like a lot of great slapstick classics, it’s fast, furious, and damn funny.

Stray observations:

  • There is no evidence to support the editor was loved by anyone.
  • Brett refers to Susie as his “work mom.” Classic.
  • “You know what else has a lot of buzz around it? Horse shit!”
  • “Cuckoo bananas for cocoa puffs and bananas.”

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