Regular Show has been funnier than usual over the last few weeks. That’s a risky way to open the review, because how often a show makes someone laugh is notoriously personal and subjective; I can make arguments about why a joke is well constructed or why the episode’s pacing is particularly well-suited to its gags, but it all eventually reduces down to simple statements like “I laughed” or “That amused me,” and there isn’t really a way to build consensus on those points beyond hoping that most of you found the episode similarly funny. Because my goodness, did I ever find “Carter And Briggs” funny. Much like other recent entries like “Fool Me Twice,” “Limousine Lunchtime,” and “K.I.L.I.T. Radio,” this episode doesn’t offer much in the way of character insight or innovative storytelling—indeed, if you want to argue this is a rehash of the main story beats of “Limousine Lunchtime,” I’d be hard pressed to refute that point. But it does provide some great one-liners, and, crucially, those one-liners come not from random guest characters but from the main ensemble.
The episode’s eponymous, fictional cop drama Carter And Briggs illustrates one major reason why Regular Show has been on such a comedic hot streak of late. Pop culture parodies have become a big part of this season’s comedy toolkit, and it’s taken some time for the show to find the right tone with these gags; look back at the instructional video parody in the early fourth-season episode “Starter Pack” for an example of the show still trying to incorporate pastiches into its own distinctive tone. Carter And Briggs meshes perfectly with Regular Show’s usual feel because the two titular loose cannon cops are simply written exactly like Mordecai and Rigby. They are obsessed with their own coolness, openly disrespect their flustered superior, and yell at inappropriate moments. Unsurprisingly, Mordecai and Rigby treat this show as the greatest thing ever made.
Indeed, the Carter And Briggs clip works so well not because it offers a piercing insight into the cop show genre—it doesn’t cover any territory The Simpsons didn’t already explore with McGarnagle 20 years ago—but because it speaks so powerfully to the show’s main characters. The parody serves a purpose beyond simply mocking its source material; it also indicates just what sort of idiots our heroes really are. Rigby’s hushed, awed response when the commercial asks if he would like to meet Carter and Briggs is almost religious in tone, and the “realism” gag is both a meta critique of the parody’s ridiculousness—as it would be on most shows—and an indication of how Rigby sees the world. Plus, the episode makes it clear the joke is specifically on Mordecai and Rigby, as Muscle Man dismisses Carter And Briggs as a show for babies. Between the wish-fulfillment silliness of Carter And Briggs, the gleeful sadism of Fool Me Once, Shame On You, Fool Me Twice, I’ll Punch Your Face, and the catchphrase-driven absurdity of That’s My Television, the last few episodes have provided us with a clear sense of Mordecai and Rigby’s taste, even if it is not entirely complimentary. These TV shows matter to our protagonists in a way that such parodies seldom do on other shows, and that puts a little extra weight behind all the craziness.
“Carter And Briggs” also strikes a nice balance in terms of just how much Mordecai and Rigby are really invested in their show, especially when compared with the two super-fans who brought their own perfect replica of the show’s 1985 police cruiser. Mordecai and Rigby are star-struck enough that they miss the fact that the show’s stars are kind of jerks, and Mordecai can engage in a taunting quote battle with the rival fan. But for all that obsessive devotion, Mordecai and Rigby can’t match the fanatics, who are quite explicitly ready to kill just to get a bit part on an upcoming episode. Regular Show often ups an episode’s stakes as the situation becomes deadlier, but here, our heroes realize they are about to get killed over some stupid TV show.
Mordecai’s shocked realization is a crucial reminder that he and Rigby may live in an insane world, but they are not entirely insane themselves. Moments like that keep the story anchored, however loosely, to some sense of reality. The final gag also plays on that idea, as Mordecai and Rigby predictably turn in stilted, flop-sweat-drenched performances as a pair of hoodlums on Carter And Briggs—much to their friends’ and coworkers’ reluctant but unmistakable derision—and yet they still consider this one of the great highlights of their lives. Honestly, that’s probably the healthiest possible reaction. After all, they defeated two psychopaths and created a vortex to get a day on that set; it’s only right that they enjoy the rewards of their ordeal, even if nobody else thinks much of it.
In case there’s any doubt remaining that this is the season of Muscle Man, our own Mitch Sorenstein steals the episode in his role as Mordecai and Rigby’s donuts trainer. His teaching style can be reduced to two simple words—“turning radius”—and even when he briefly convinces himself that doing donuts is all about heart, he quickly corrects himself. Much like Carter And Briggs’ cop show parody, Muscle Man’s coaching stint doesn’t mine any new comedic material. His incoherent, frequently contradictory speeches about winners and losers recall similar monologues on other shows—I got South Park and Futurama vibes from some of his lines, but those are hardly the only shows to which Muscle Man’s material owes a debt. These jokes don’t feel stale because Muscle Man is well defined enough as an individual that they work as character moments. It’s long been established that Muscle Man is obsessed with winning—or at least obsessed with the awesomeness that comes with winning—and that he’s not the park’s most articulate employee. He also gets a terrific final line mixed in among the others’ awkward reactions to Mordecai and Rigby’s guest appearance, as he grumbles, “I didn’t train them in acting!”
The rest of the ensemble doesn’t have as featured a role, but it’s just great to see them cheering on Mordecai and Rigby after sitting out a bunch of episodes. Indeed, Skips and Benson serve as Mordecai and Rigby’s biggest fans during the duo’s quest, with Skips happily souping up the golf cart and Benson—leaving aside his insistence that the pair wear “The Park” shirts during their guest appearance—angrily protesting the rival fans’ cheating. The supportive presence of Mordecai and Rigby’s coworkers provides this climactic car-based contest with a different tone than the previous climactic, car-based contest in “Limousine Lunchtime,” in which our heroes performed before a crowd of rowdy millionaires and one somewhat helpful mechanic. There’s a fun, easygoing spirit to “Carter And Briggs,” as the whole gang pulls together to accomplish something that is objectively kind of pointless, and that tone distinguishes the episode from other episodes. This episode isn’t a classic, but it’s fun, and it’s funny. That’s more than enough.
- That next episode of Carter And Briggs looked tremendous. Also, it was a wonderful detail to have Pops start watching his preferred crime show, the Murder, She Wrote riff Crime, She Typed. I think we’re all wondering what she will type this time.
- “Donut sports are offseason!”
- “As Escobedo said in the TV movie Carter And Briggs Bust Russia: ‘We will destroy them, your holiness.’” There is nothing about that line I don’t love.
- Oh hi, Thomas.