Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Regular Show: “150-Piece Kit”

Illustration for article titled Regular Show: “150-Piece Kit”

Due to the environmental disruption of Hurricane Sandy on the east coast, your regularly scheduled Regular Show coverage will be a little bit different tonight. I’m a recent Regular Show convert, and I’m not completely caught up on every episode of the show—but I really like what I’ve seen of the show so far. It falls into a category with other animated shows I watch that aren’t strictly aimed only at kids, along with Adventure Time, Tron: Uprising, and Mystery Incorporated (okay, yes, Spongebob and My Little Pony on occasion as well). But what sticks out to me about Regular Show is that while it projects a laid-back, slacker attitude in its two leads, who defiantly avoid work, the world of these slackers is so purposefully cultivated. You can’t be this funny and laid-back by pure accident; it takes a lot of work.

As in at least one other Regular Show episode, a famous band rolls into town, this time performing in the park. The whole staff is really excited, but Benson is angry, though not for his usual permanently cantankerous reasons. This time, it’s because he’s been deprived of his rightful place in rock history. The band in question, Hair to the Throne, recorded an epic drum solo on its first album, and have always credited that godly bit of musicianship to Drumatron VI, an electronic drum machine, when in reality, Benson himself was the prodigious former-drummer for the band. Of course, nobody believes him, so he sets out to show everyone just how great he is at playing drums.

“150-Piece Set” continues last week’s insights into Benson’s relationship with his two laziest employees. Sure, he constantly wants to fire them for disobeying even the slightest order, but he always wants their respect and recognition. Hair to the Throne treats him like some kind of crackpot poseur, ingratiating itself to the rest of the staff with Honorary Roadie badges (they’re holographic!), while discrediting Benson to the point that he’s a bit of a laughingstock. With the band as the guest characters, the rest of the park employees get the short shrift, and the plot pares down to dealing with Mordecai, Rigby, and Benson as he builds his 150-piece drum set in preparation for definitely proving his prowess.

What really works about the plot is that Mordecai and Rigby aren’t convinced by anything that Benson does, but by Hair to the Throne’s nasty actions. After setting up the stage and going through soundcheck, the band has Mordecai and Rigby drive them to where Benson sets up his massive kit, and they proceed to destroy the drums, ruining their reputation and making Benson instantly more sympathetic. That cements Mordecai and Rigby’s allegiance, and the way they quickly rally behind their boss, repair his kit, and then ensure he gets a chance to prove himself in front of the giant crowd is a nice counter to their usual needling tactics to weasel out of work.

It’s a little clumsy, and not exactly earth-shattering material, but that’s okay, because the final drum solo sequence is pure unadulterated awesome. The whole park gang fends off Hair to the Throne, protecting Benson long enough for him to completely cut loose. It was so good that it reminded me of another uproariously great musical sequence in a ridiculous animated show: the “Sweet Victory” performance at the Bubble Bowl in Spongebob Squarepants. It’s a visual spectacle, with the suddenly sentient drum machine trying to take down Benson in the rotating sky-cage, and Benson drumming so furiously that he lights on fire and causes a massive explosion on the final epic gong strike.

But what I find most endearing about Regular Show is the blend of surreal experimentation, intricate world building, and dash of theme that feels just right. This week, it’s about hero worship and trust. Your idols don’t always turn out to be the kind of people you envision. Sometimes, they’re just a bunch of fame-addicted assholes stomping on the little people.


Stray observations:

  • I’ve only seen one other episode from this season, so I can’t really comment on Thomas’ absence in this week’s episode. He’s in the background, but I don’t even think he got more than two throwaway lines.
  • “The Bass Player.”
  • “Not the MIDI controller!”
  • Thanks to Alasdair for letting me sub in for the week; he'll be back next time!