Tonight’s Regular Show is one long anticlimax. Mordecai throws the titular “TGI Tuesday” party in a last-ditch effort to spend time with Margaret before she goes off to pursue her studies, but she assures him at episode’s end that he never had anything to worry about. The episode gives one of the clearest indications yet that Margaret is now just as smitten with and self-conscious around Mordecai as he is with her, but the episode doesn’t move things beyond the same sort of tenderness they previously showed in episodes like “Bad Kiss.” The ‘80s party ghosts are clearly up to no good, except at every turn they prove underwhelming. Indeed, when Rigby cries, “We’re going to die!” in the face of the latest supernatural phenomenon, it’s revealed that the ghosts’ devastating finishing move is actually just a floating sign that wishes their friend Charlene the best of luck for their internship. More to the point, this latest gang of seemingly implacable foes are quickly revealed to be big old ‘80s softies, and the ghosts prove downright Casper-like in their friendliness.
With only minimal rejiggering, all these story threads could have been the setup for a massive, cringe-inducing disaster, with the ghosts ruining the party in such a way that Margaret leaves unsure what she ever saw in Mordecai in the first place. Indeed, if this episode had happened during season one, there’s a decent chance that’s how things would have resolved. Eschewing the most exciting, confrontation-driven resolution in favor of something gentler and sweeter is to some extent a sign of narrative maturity, but it’s also simply the sort of thing Regular Show can do at this stage in its life because we’re confident the show will return to the full-fledged, unhinged insanity next week, most likely with Benson screaming at Mordecai and Rigby for their latest screw-up. But “TGI Tuesday” just lets its natural conflicts give to an uncomplicated happy ending, with everything working out just fine for once, if in a kind of quiet way. Somehow, the episode is so much better off for abandoning all its apparent narrative threads. After all, why go through all that drama when you can just kick back and have some fun? As the 20th century’s greatest philosopher once observed, “It’s a party, Marge. It doesn’t have to make sense.”
Really, “TGI Tuesday” is one of the simpler Regular Show episodes. Margaret reveals her plan to buckle down and study every night so that she can transfer out of community college. Mordecai proposes throwing her a massive party before she disappears forever—again, the episode leaves it ambiguous just how benevolent this gesture really is, so perhaps it doesn’t matter. Mordecai, Rigby, and Eileen’s trip to the party store leads to an encounter with Muscle Man, who gets in a number of very funny one-liners before heading off to find guests for the party. But when every venue in town turns them down, Mordecai and company are left with only one option: an abandoned ballroom that Benson claims is impossible to clean. The ghosts of three righteous dudes, all of whom partied so hard in 1985 that their bodies gave out, appear to refuse the trio their right to use the space, and a dance party ensues, until a moment of understanding is unexpectedly shared and the party goes ahead, at which Margaret and Mordecai have one more moment of tenderness without things proceeding any further.
Regular Show never tends to be all that complicated in its storytelling, following a linear progression from a sane, low-key beginning to a surreal, fantastical endpoint. By the show’s standards, the ‘80s ghosts don’t even rate as all that unusual; they fulfill the same narrative function as might Gene and the rival park or any other group of vaguely antagonistic jerks. Their ghostly status adds a layer of the absurd, but it’s a relatively thin one. Their test of Mordecai, Rigby, and Eileen’s commitment to partying doesn’t involve retrieving some mystical amulet from some party-crazed shadow realm or any other flight of lunatic fancy—it’s just a dance contest, and an intentionally lame one at that, as Emperor Johnny, Cool Shadé, and Daryl keep on using the exact same moves. The ghosts do provide for some of the best silly ‘80s gags this side of Futurama’s “Future Stock”, with ridiculous outfits, earnestly indignant proclamations that the only proper dance steps prominently involve handclaps, and a wonderfully stupid (and possibly anachronistic, if these ghosts died in 1985) allusion to Ronald Reagan’s oratory, as Emperor Johnny declares, “Tear down this hall!” And really, any episode that prominently features a frenetic dance montage built around Sweet’s “The Ballroom Blitz” is going to be looking pretty good in my book. The stakes feel distinctly lower than those of the gang’s usual encounters with the supernatural, as is made quite clear when Rigby thinks he’s about to die at the hands of a shiny “Good luck!” sign. The ‘80s ghosts prove a pleasant, winning divergence from the show’s usual supernatural adversaries, and while I doubt the show could sustain such low-key resolutions on a recurring basis, it’s a lot of fun here.
The episode turns on Mordecai convincing the ghosts that it’s time to stop partying sometime, to give up on their beloved Charlene magically showing up 28 years later. It’s a poignant line, because it could very easily describe where Mordecai has so often stood with Margaret. Yes, they seem to be at an especially good point in their flirtatious quasi-relationship, particularly considering Margaret’s bashfulness when chatting with Mordecai on the phone, but this has been going on for years with no real results, and Margaret is now making general plans to move on to the next phase of her life, regardless of how much fun they have tonight. As often happens on Regular Show, Mordecai’s own exact motivations remain elusive—he certainly wants to make the most of his time with Margaret, yet it’s also possible to see the party as a more selfish means of distracting her from her studies long-term—but the ghosts are moved by a devotion that rivals their own feelings towards the mysterious Charlene. They decide to help Mordecai succeed where they failed, going so far as to put on some slow music to ensure the two have a dance together. It’s a sweet ending, tinged with a hint of goofy wistfulness (yes, that’s totally a thing) as the ghosts briefly recognize how much they’ve missed out on, not least of which is the notion of partying on Tuesdays like a true boss.
Meanwhile, Muscle Man again proves himself the show’s most dependable bench player, as every line he has is worth a chuckle. A lot of it is based in the character’s usual dumb bravado, such as his explanation that he spends all his days off in the party supply store so that he always knows where the party’s at, a process that mostly just involves haranguing one very irritated employee. But it’s more than just the writing or Sam Marin’s performance—there’s some great animation when Muscle Man sips his soda and really deeply considers Rigby’s bold declaration that their party will make Tuesday the new Friday, and there’s an unusually fast edit from Eileen mentioning that she hopes Muscle Man doesn’t invite a bunch of people they don’t know to Muscle Man explicitly inviting a bunch of strangers to the party. It’s the kind of smash-cut gag that seems outside Regular Show’s usual comedic toolkit, but if “TGI Tuesday” anything, it’s just how much fun this show can be when it gleefully defies even its own expectations.
- “Huge is my and my mom’s middle name! I’ll see you jerks tonight. Muscle Man Huge Sorenstein out!”
- “You understand that permanently banned applies to Tuesdays too, right?”
- Neither Muscle Man nor Benson quite know how to incorporate Eileen into their usual greetings to Mordecai and Rigby. In any event, Eileen once again proved that she’s kind of the best, even if her burritos do occasionally taste like failure.
- Well, I found “Que interesante” charming, even if it totally sailed over Mordecai’s head.
- I’m glad that in the midst of all this, we still found some time for Rigby to snigger at some ball-related double entendres.