We let Appellate Judge Mac McEntire out of his box twice a year for fumigation.
Cash grab. (It actually says this on big letters on the box.)
Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block is like nothing else on television. Shows
on the block have included retro cartoons refitted with weird and sometimes
filthy new takes, cancelled 'toons from other networks given a new life, and
edgy works from up-and-coming animators. Many have decried the Adult Swim
programs as nothing but lowbrow "stoner comedy," but I for one have
always checking out what they come up with. Even if it's something that doesn't
appeal to me personally (like The Oblongs), I know that it'll still be
just outside the mainstream enough to be interesting. Conversely, sometimes
Adult Swim comes up with something that really amazes me with a show, one I
can't believe how great it is (like Home Movies).
Adult Swim in a Box is just that—a huge box set featuring DVDs
of Adult Swim's signature shows, as well as a number of pilots and specials
never before released on home video. Let's tear this thing open and let it to
strange, frightening things to our brains.
Facts of the Case
• Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume Two: Frylock, Master
Shake, and Meatwad are three human-sized food items living in a house in New
Jersey. Together, with their fat neighbor Carl, they have many adventures.
• Space Ghost Coast to Coast: Volume Three: Intergalactic
superhero Space Ghost hosts a barely-functioning TV talk show, with his
sidekicks Zorak and Moltar. Celebrity guests, in live action, are interviewed.
Or at least they manage an appearance with all the craziness going on.
• Morel Orel: Volume One: Eleven-year-old Orel loves going
to church, and he loves God and Jesus. In his attempts to interpret how best to
please God and Jesus, Orel makes some well-meaning but questionable choices.
Then, he usually ends up in his father's study for a…lesson.
• Robot Chicken: Season Two Uncensored: Co-created by Seth
Green (Sex Drive) this stop
motion-animated sketch comedy skewers anything and everything pop culture.
• Metalocalypse: Season One: Metal band DethKlok rules the
world of rock. No one is more hardcore. A conspiracy is under way to shut the
murderous band down, though.
• Sealab 2021: Season Two: At the bottom of the ocean, the
crew of the futuristic Sealab tries to maintain order, which isn't easy since
most of them are insane, and all sorts of bizarre freakiness keeps happening all
• The Best of Totally For Teens pilot. Never before
released on DVD. A long-lost early '90s variety show for teens delivers all
sorts of important messages, and a lot of graphics and fast edits.
• Cheyenne Cinnamon and the Fantabulous Unicorn of Sugar Town
Candy Fudge. Never before released on DVD. Whenever young girls need help,
scantily dressed pop singer comes down from the sky on her flying unicorn and
saves the day, while also dancing around in a slutty way.
• Korgoth of Barbaria Never before released on DVD. In a
nightmarish post-apocalypse, the "old ways" have returned to the
Earth. Korgoth, the barbaric killing machine, might be mankind's only hope for
• Perfect Hair Forever Never before released on DVD. A
while back, Adult Swim spent weeks hyping up the premiere of its new show,
Squidbillies. When the date finally arrived, viewers were instead
surprised to see this, Perfect Hair Forever, a barely-comprehensible
spoof of anime.
• Welcome to Eltingville. Never before released on DVD.
After getting thrown out of a movie theater, four geeks head to the comic book
store, where an original Kenner 12-inch-tall Boba Fett still in the box is on
sale. To determine which one gets to buy it, they compete in a
"trivia-off," which threatens to destroy their friendship forever.
First things first: the six season sets in this box are identical to the ones
previously released. If you bought any of them previously, then you're buying
them a second time with this box. The five pilots are on their own disc.
• Aqua Teen Hunger Force
As much as I love this show and these characters, this follow up to the
brilliant first season is hit or miss. Some of these episodes are outstanding,
such as "Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future," which
introduced the hilariously clueless Cybernetic host, and "Super
Trivia," featuring the guys trying to win a bar trivia contest against a
competitor with a giant brain. Other episodes, though, are more weirdness for
weirdness' sake, or intent on repeating past plots or jokes. Overall, it's a
good season, but not among the show's best.
• Space Ghost Coast to
Although this is the third volume, things are relatively lucid
on the set of Space Ghost. Space Ghost actually talks to his guests, and
a lot of times it's almost like watching a real talk show. At other times,
though, it starts getting crazier, as the show's creators try new things. This
is the show in transition, as it changes from a talk show spoof into the manic
randomness it eventually became. There are 24 episodes on this set. That's a lot
of Space Ghost.
• Morel Orel
I have mixed feelings about this one.
Christianity is an easy target, and at times this show seems like the same joke
over and over. Orel misinterprets what adults are telling him about God, and, in
his confusion he does things that are horrible and shocking, but all in the name
of his faith. Sometimes it's surprising and hilarious, and at other times, it's
just odd and slow-moving. The show is mean-spirited, but never so mean-spirited
that poor little Orel comes off as the bad guy. As the show progresses, we get
more and more glimpses of the adults on Orel's town, especially his parents'
troubled relationship, and we can see it's no wonder this well-meaning kid is so
screwed up. The character development gets surprisingly deep, and it left me
wanting to see more, just to get a sense of where the creators were going with
this. Visually, Morel Orel is a surprisingly good-looking show, created
with gorgeous the stop-motion animation.
What can be said about Robot Chicken that hasn't
already been said? The show is simply great sketch comedy. Unlike so many other
sketch shows, the sketches are nice and short, so that once we get the initial
joke, the creators don't feel the need to stretch things out intolerably. Part
of this might be the limits of the stop motion animation, and part of it might
be the less-than-15-minute episode runtimes, but I'd like to think at least a
part of it is the clever writing and nicely developed sense of comic timing. The
show's main targets are late '80s/early '90s pop culture, so if that's not your
scene, it's possible you might not dig the show as much. You should also know
that these episodes are uncensored, and the unbleeped f-bombs fly freely.
As I said
above, any Adult Swim show is worth checking out, just to see what the creators
have come up with, even if some of them are better than others. At the risk of
angering its legions of fans, I have to admit Metalocalypse doesn't
excite me as much as the other shows. I think the joke is here to take the idea
of "unlikable protagonists" to new heights. The band DethKlok is so
popular that its members are wealthy beyond belief, and they enjoy success
unimaginable. But wherever they go, they leave murder and destruction in their
wake. Some of my favorite moments are when the DethKlok guys have to interact
with normal folks in normal situations, such as when, during a visit to a
grocery store, one of them calls it "the food library." These moments
are fleeting, though, and most of the episodes showcase the guys in their
element doing horrible things. I get the joke, but I'm not sure it works for me.
But, know that my opinion is the minority in this case. Metalocalypse is
wildly popular, with an actual DethKlok band that tours the country.
• Sealab 2021
It's interesting that the second season is the one included in this set, because
this is the season when the show went totally berserk. The first season was a
very funny sci-fi/cartoon spoof. The second, though, is when the creators
decided to experiment. Some of these experiments work wonderfully, such as the
"Grizzlebees" episode, but others are just frustrating, like the
"7211" episode. Other curiosities on this set are the
"Blackout" episode and the "Uh-oh!" episode. Entries that go
back to the sci-fi parodies are the popular "Bizarro" one, and the
holiday-themed "Alvis" one. The first season is the show at its best,
this is the show at its weirdest.
• The Pilots
Seeing these made me realize just how
tough it must be to create a pilot, one that not only introduces characters and
settings, but also promises a potential for weeks and perhaps years of
additional stories. Most of these pilots make a great one-off short, but I have
to admit I don't see many of them working as series. Totally for Teens is
a fun and hyper takeoff of shows from that era, but is this really something
you'd want to tune in for every week. The same goes for Cheyenne
Cinnamon. The concept for that one is to take a Britney Spears type and
contrast her onscreen cool celebrity persona with her wild child on a rampage
real world persona. Cheyenne flies down from the sky to help a young girl with
her magic, but then Cheyenne is more interested in getting high and partying
than in helping. As a short film, it's hilarious, but I can't imagine how it
could ever have been a series without just repeating this same gag every week.
Korgoth of Barbaria, on the other hand, was astonishingly funny, and wide
open enough that I could totally see it as a series. The violence and sex are so
wildly over-the-top that I couldn't stop laughing. That, plus how the fantasy
setting is so widely open to satire, made me want to see more, week after week.
It would be trickier to make Welcome to Eltingville into a weekly show,
but I think it could have worked. The pilot is hysterical, especially for anyone
who's spent an afternoon hanging out at the local comic book shop. The inclusion
of Perfect Hair Forever on this set is odd, because it actually did lead
to a short-lived series. Its real notoriety is from the hoax where it took the
place of the Squidbillies premiere.
What's missing from that historic night, though, is the follow-up, in which
Space Ghost returned from commercials to host a panel discussion on what had
just happened. Perhaps we'll see that on an eventual Perfect Hair Forever
DVD. As for the pilot itself, it's so nonsensical it ceases to be funny, and
instead just gets frustrating, as you keep waiting for the story to go
somewhere, which it never does. Because it was originally created as a hoax,
though, that's somewhat understandable.
The picture and audio quality on the DVDs are good. Because these shows
aren't top-notch animation, these discs aren't the ones to show off your home
entertainment system. Still, the colors are bright and the sound is clear
throughout. For details on the extras, I'll refer you to the individual reviews
at DVD Verdict (links are to the right). The short version is that there are
plentiful commentaries, featurettes and promo materials. Some of these are
insightful looks at how the show is made, others are spoof extras, made in the
same anarchic style as the shows. The disc with the pilots has no extras.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Let's speculate. The case the pilots come in is marked "Adult Swim
Pilots." The actual disc, however, is labeled "Adult Swim on a
Disc." So, what do you think? Will this get a release as an individual disc
sometime in the future? I can't say for sure, but I'm guessing it will.
Also, could one of the Robot Chicken fans reading this please explain
to me the "Doctor Who/Senreich Green University/baseball" joke?
If you already own all six of these season sets, I'm not sure the pilots are
good enough to warrant you re-buying them all. If, on the other hand, you do not
own any of the season sets featured here, this box is a no-brainer for a
purchase. The big head-scratcher is whether to buy if you already own some but
not all of these sets. You must look deep within yourself to decide if what else
is on here is worthy of being in your DVD collection. Only then will you
have…perfect hair forever.
Not guilty in a box.
Give us your feedback!
Did we give Adult Swim In A Box a fair trial? yes / no
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Cartoon Network
• Full Frame
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 1280 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Episode Commentaries
• Video Blogs
• Alternate Scenes
• Deleted Scenes
• Bonus Episode
• Bonus Footage
• Slide Show