Judge Gordon Sullivan hopes Squidbillies never strike oil and move to Beverly Hills.
"Only two sources I trust: Glenn Beck and singing woodland creatures."—Early Cuyler
Squidbillies flew largely under my radar as just another short, crudely animated show on Adult Swim—or at least it did until the creators decided to make a musical episode and went about hiring a whole stable of great Americana artists to sing demented redneck odes. Then, all of a sudden, my feeds were blowing up—from Twitter to mailing lists—about all these artists appearing on a cartoon. That episode—"America: Why I Love Her"—was the perfect introduction to the demented world of Early and his clan. Sadly, the rest of the episodes don't live up to the creative comedy of "America," but the extras on this DVD release are sure to please fans.
For those (like me) not in the know, Squidbillies follows the lives of Cuyler family, a clan of rednecks living in North Georgia as they get up to stereotypical trouble, including run-ins with the local sheriff—and the Cuylers are also squids. Yep, specifically they're "Appalachian Mud Squids," so it's okay that they're crazy and racist. Squidbillies: Volume Four includes ten episodes on a single disc:
As an introduction to the show, I really enjoyed "America: Why I Love Her." It had demented action (from perennial baddies Al Qaeda), clever musical numbers (from all those sweet guest artists), and enough laughs to justify its half-hour runtime (the first in the show's history). There seemed to be a real love for the characters, a certain respect for Southern tradition (even while poking fun at it), and an encyclopedic knowledge of music (and musicals).
The rest of the show doesn't seem to live up to the potential of this episode. Taking pot shots at everything from rap (or, more specifically, the Insane Clown Posse) to football, Squidbillies aims really, really low. "Clowny Freaks" aired in 2010. That's a solid ten years after Insane Clown Posse was even close to relevant. That may be one of the more egregious examples in this collection, but it shows where Squidbillies heart is: using a group of absurd stereotypes to take cheap shots at other absurdities. It could work; it should work. Instead, these 12-minute bouts of insanity contain a few laughs here and there, but they feel unearned, like the writers just aren't trying.
To be fair I watched Squidbillies during the light of day and completely sober. My understanding is that most of the shorter Adult Swim pieces are best appreciated with a bit of chemical help. I can certainly see how being a bit giggly before putting Squidbillies on could help its appeal. The show has survived quite a while, so there must be enough appeal to keep viewers interested.
On a purely presentational front, Squidbillies: Volume Four is a winner. The show's chaotic animation style is served well by these 1.78:1 anamorphic transfers. The fact that there are only two hours' worth of shows plus extras ensures that each episode has more than enough room, so no compression artifacts mar the presentation. The 5.1 surround tracks do a great job balancing the show's dialogue with the excellent choice in music. The extras include a short featurette on the making of "America: Why I Love Her," some outtakes, a DragonCon panel with the show's creators, an XM radio July 4th special, and a tattoo contest video. They do a great job balancing information about the show with continuing the show's insanity in other arenas.
On the other hand, the DVD could make a little more sense. Episodes on the disc are not presented in their original order, and while that might not matter to the more stoned contingent of the Squidbillies crowd, the more anal retentive fans might get irked. This is also Volume Four, but all the episodes are from the show's fifth season. Finally, I found the menu and packaging fonts a bit distracting, but that's a minor concern.
Squidbillies: Volume Four is more of the same from those crazy cephalopods Cuylers. This DVD does a fine job presenting ten episodes of the show along with some informative extras. This release includes "America: Why I Love Her," which may be the only Squidbillies show anyone ever needs.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Cartoon Network
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