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

Workaholics: “Menergy Crisis”

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There’s a moment at the end of “Menergy Crisis” where the guys are standing on stage in the TelAmeriCorp parking lot, singing their friendship anthem “Best Friends,” where I actually got a little choked up. Yeah, I said it.

And that in an episode filled with: poop-filled homemade stink-bombs, throwing stars, Everclear references, a police shooting, teriyaki pancakes, and more bare butts than Adam sees in any 20 minute window on his Brazzers account. And it’s not that the song itself is great—it actually sounds a lot like Dirk Diggler singing “You Got The Touch”— but the moment worked on me nonetheless, coming at the end of one of my favorite Workaholics episodes in years.

Written by Blake Anderson, “Menergy Crisis” is Blake-centric. Like last week’s “Speedo Racer” (written by Anders Holm), the writer gives his character the spotlight to good effect, but “Menergy Crisis” integrates Blake’s journey into the group’s even better, with Blake being excluded from this week’s diversion and turning his rejection into some Blake-style supervillainy.

The episode begins with the guys getting typically overenthusiastic about something—this time, an epic musical encapsulation of their unbreakable friendship bond. Sadly, Blake can’t sing. (I mean, Adam and Ders’ crooning isn’t especially noteworthy, but, as Ders puts it, Blake’s singing sounds “like life leaving something—like a child’s nightmare.”) So, with customary, hairtrigger speed, Ders and Adam kick Blake out of the band (“Menergy”) inspired by a song about how they’re best friends ‘til the end of time. As the engine of an episode, it’s right on. It’s not that the three don’t believe in their friendship—it’s that they lose sight of the fact that the three of them need each other more than whatever shiny thing is calling to them at that moment.

Workaholics falters most often in comic tone. The guys’ irresponsibility and crudity can curdle with the wrong tone, their happy juvenility shading into braying boorishness, something that happened too often last season. Here, however, the guys’ schism provides the impetus for an episode that turns conflict into perfectly-pitched laughs, especially once the guys start trying to sabotage each other as musical guest at the TelAmeriCorp picnic.

The return to TelAmeriCorp is a big part of why this episode works as well, something last season lost sight of. The guys’ slacker shenanigans are easier to root for when they partake of rebellion, and there’s no workplace more conducive to rebellion that this ridiculous, soulless telemarketing firm. Plus, the workplace setting allows the show to weave supporting characters Montez, Bill, Alice, and Jillian back into the show, which is always a good thing. The stars of the show are funny guys and all, but a steady diet of concentrated them gets a bit much. So when Maribeth Monroe’s boss Alice (in a plot device cribbed liberally from The Office) has to spend a surplus or lose it, her plan for a company party (including a velcro wall, pancake station, carnival games, and batting cage) sets the guys against each other to show off their musical skills. (Blake wants to co-opt their wizard rap act with the help of Karl and a pair of rod puppets in place of Adam and Ders.) Thus begins an epically silly prank war, with Ders and Adam getting Blake suspended from work with a phone call to the cops (who, assuming Karl’s filthy van is being used to kidnap Blake, shoot one of the puppets in a genuinely unsettling scene). This causes Blake to ingeniously sabotage every aspect of the company party while taunting the other two with stereotypical evil mastermind phone calls and some light mayhem.


Naturally, Blake’s plan is only “ingenious” as far as Blake goes, involving throwing stars deflating the velcro wall just as Jillian is about to make her velcro wall dream come true, Karl’s patented stink bomb perched on the “ring-the-bell” strongman game Montez is about to try, and squishable fruit loading Bill’s pitching machine. Too often, the guys’ conflicts result in too-mean revenges (last year’s rotting skunk burrito sticks in the mind), but, here, the alternating petty vengeance is silly and goofy, and punctuated with copious mooning. (Having seen the screener, I can’t be sure how Comedy Central will come down on the nudity, but if you were longing to finish your anatomically correct Workaholics butt portraits, this episode’s for you.)

So when the guys finally put their differences aside and their butts away and take to the stage to perform, it all comes together quiet nicely, with Blake’s newly-introduced sign-language skills (he doesn’t really know sign language) giving him a natural spot in the band that doesn’t involve having to subject the world to his voice. Their triumphant performance (only clouded when Alice suspends them from work, which they don’t care about anyway) is the culmination of a truly well-constructed episode of Workaholics, one that balances plot, character, and inventive silliness just right. As does “Friends Forever,” really—it’s a ridiculous song about three guys who don’t realize how ridiculous they are riding a musical wave of unwarranted confidence in their own awesomeness until it becomes something both ridiculous and, yes, awesome:

Image for article titled Workaholics: “Menergy Crisis”

We’ve got respect for each other

We will protect one another

Don’t waste your breath on the haters

They’re jealous of our friendship

Friends til the end ride or die

Best friends I’ll trust you with my life

Excuse me—I think there’s something in my eye…

Stray observations:

  • Adam Newacheck does a great job directing this one. The shots of Evil Blake on the phone transitioning into the mobile, action movie sequences of Adam and Ders rushing to defuse Blake’s schemes are especially well done.
  • “’Cause I’m only scared of two things—pincer bugs and pleasing a woman to death with my penis. But then I realized it wasn’t that big—that was an irrational fear.” Adam’s occasional glimmers of self-awareness go a long way toward keeping him bearable.
  • “I’m psyched—this is how Metallica started. Their first gig was, like at a Chick-fil-a, I think.”
  • Explaining the surplus: “Erasable pens save on white out—you guys all read that article I sent right?” It’s so nice to have Jillian (Jillian Bell) back.
  • “One thing is for damn sure—we’re getting a pancake station.” Also nice to have Alice back. (See picture.)
  • “Don’t you see me trying to ring this bell like Bart Simpsons neck?” Montez is not all about homophones.
  • Cop, to Karl, after shooting Blake’s puppet: “Let’s call this one even—I’m sure you’ve got drugs in that van.”
  • “I’m the diva? Look how hard your hair is right now!”
  • “It’s just skin.” “No, it’s not—it’s butt skin!”
  • “It’s not a mixer, Blake. If anything, it’s a work function, or a brunch with activities.”
  • “Well, Ders, what about you? What if Adam and I left you out?” “Uh, you guys do that all the time, and it does feel pretty bad.”
  • The Workaholics construction, “Let’s go smoke weed about it” is oddly profound, in it’s way.