“Bald Spot” starts with a midlife crisis and moves into a relationship drama, all in 10 minutes, with a pair of exploding (burning? radiating?) flexed pectoral muscles. Somehow, the shift is subversively brilliant, a plot that manages to incorporate the sight gags and physical comedy of cartoon land without becoming dumb in the process. In and of itself, separate from supernatural occurrences and ghost-sidekicks, Muscle Man’s drama is a drama everyone faces in their lives: “Oh crap, I’m uglier than I was yesterday! Will my significant other still want to make sweet, sweet love to me?”
He spends the rest of the episode trying to find a way to either mask the bald spot or distract from it, frantically prepping for his roller rink anniversary date with Starla, the love of his life. His efforts are dramatic and hilarious and also gross, but ultimately nothing works. Starla knows something’s wrong when Muscle Man’s flexing pecs start to glow (seriously), and everyone in the rink stops to either try to sleep with him or beat him up. As they’re beating the crap out of crazed girls and angry guys, she demands the truth, and he reveals his horrible secret to her. Of course, she loves him anyway, as we all knew she did.
This plot has an archetypal edge: We’re all terrified of our flaws. And though we, like Muscle Man, can pour stuff over them, or run a sideshow to distract from them, ultimately, in an intimate relationship, those flaws are going to come out. And though your girlfriend might forgive your big and obvious flaws, your friends are going to tease you about it mercilessly, because that’s what friends are for.
What’s interesting is that Regular Show chooses to feature a bald spot, not a zit. This is an episode about aging—a little obscurely, as the bald spot turns out to be a patch from a bad haircut. But perhaps more overtly than other episodes, “Bald Spot” is directed at Regular Show’s adult audience, those who are not segueing into youthful slackerdom but rather out of it—into a more mature slackerdom. It’s nice when a show knows its audience. In that sense, it reminded me of last week’s episode, “150-Piece Kit.” Benson’s desire to confront demons from the past (and in this case, those demons were made flesh) also strikes me as a story about middle age, a time of learning to accept yourself as you are, but also honoring the achievements you have accomplished. Big fancy cable dramas play with those themes all the time. It’s nice to see them in a different format, with unexpected beats and twists.
The roller-rink finale is by far the strongest segment of “Bald Spot”—a sequence that has fun with the other characters’ girlfriends, the ludicrousness of roller skating, and the friendship between Hi Five Ghost and Muscle Man. By contrast the opening segment falls a little flat. Regular Show is strongest when the characters can play off of each other, and there are fewer opportunities in the opening. This episode is all Muscle Man. If you like him, you’ll be happy. If not, there’s not a lot else to watch.
- “Punching the wall won’t help. I tried that.”
- Hi Five Ghost has roller skates!
- I loved the nod to gender role-reversal in Starla and Muscle Man’s final scene—he’s the one being vain about his appearance; she’s the one fighting off rivals. It works for their relationship, and it was fun to watch.
- Alasdair will be back with his nuanced reviews for the next episode!