[17 March 2008]
If you’ve watched Aqua Teen Hunger Force or the show’s first feature film, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, you know that everything about the show defies logic. Especially the film which, for a full-length film based on an 11-minute, late-night cartoon about talking food, managed to be released in 877 theaters its opening weekend. And that’s after a viral marketing campaign for the movie caused Boston officials to call the bomb squad.
Each week, for about 15 minutes, an amorphous hamburger (Meatwad, voiced by Dave Willis), a selfish milkshake (Master Shake, voiced by Dana Snyder), and a quizzical order of fries (Frylock, voiced by Carey Means) annoy their low-class next-door neighbor (Carl, voiced by Dave Willis again) somewhere in the “hood” near the Jersey Shore. If the premise wasn’t strange enough, the plots—even though they last half the time of a typical sitcom—are so outlandish and so inconsequential that, at an episode’s conclusion, you’re not sure anything happened at all.
It’s not surprising, then, that the DVD release of Aqua Teen Hunger Force‘s fifth season is a curious mish-mash of features that don’t make sense, either. For starters, some of the extra features would have been more suited to the feature film’s DVD release. Some of these are funny enough anyway: In “Aqua Teen Hunger Force Responds to the Critics”, the characters all take hilarious umbrage with bad reviews of the film, sometimes mentioning reviewers by name. (Ignignokt, one of the foul-mouthed Atari-style Mooninites, informs one reviewer that he’s getting “the pinkie” because he’s not important enough for “the potent bird-finger”.) Other extras, such as the slow-moving, 40-minute red-carpet movie premiere coverage featuring a live-action Space Ghost, would’ve been better relegated to the movie DVD—if anywhere at all.
Some included material barely even has a connection to Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Stuck in the middle of the extras menu is one complete episode of Space Ghost. It’s funny. Bob Costas is the guest. But it’s only included with the rest because a couple side-characters (floating brains Carl and Carl, Jr.) also make an appearance in one of the ATHF episodes. It’s a strange way to promote a crossover.
Thankfully, Cartoon Network remembered to include all of the fifth season’s episodes on the DVDs, too. And, for Aqua Teen Hunger Force, they’re pretty straightforward. Recently, the show has begun to defy its own formulas. The sixth season of the series, airing now on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, has so far eliminated the three delicious main characters, who have “moved out” (or were possibly kidnapped?) because they complained to their landlord about a constant gas leak. The show is now refocused on Carl and a rotating series of possible new neighbors. The feature film also pushed the show’s limitations, repeatedly subverting its own inner logic until it collapsed into a singularity.
For better or worse, these innovations are absent from the fifth season. Instead, it’s a compendium of classic Aqua Teen plots: Meatwad clones a dog from Shake’s DNA (and it rapes Carl), a strange fast-food-chain owner wants to make a space ship out of penises (including Carl’s), and so on. Chances are, you already know if you’d like them or not.
Another Aqua Teen hallmark is the ability to get strange guest stars to come and do voices on the show. Thankfully, this one remains: Andrew W.K., Mike Judge, Will Forte, Giant center Bart Oates, Tera Patrick, and one staffer’s grandmother all turn up as voices at some point. The best special features show Tera Patrick and the grandmother (separately) in the booth recording their parts. The grandmother delivers the line, “I think I killed your dog…with my swords,” expertly even though it’s clear she has no idea what her role is in the episode.
Tera Patrick does the same—with a mouth full of hot dog. Since these features are actually relevant to the episodes included in the fifth season, it shows that you can do something that makes a modicum of sense and still be funny.