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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Aquabats! Super Show! Season One! DVD Review

Yes, that’s right, there are two exclamation points in this show’s title, and three exclamation points in the title of the DVD. And, guess what, every single episode has an exclamation point in its title as well. That’s certainly a lot of exclaiming.  I usually despise exclamation points, except when they’re used for humor, when their very use is actually poking fun at their use. And that’s what the Aquabats are doing. Everything about this show is making fun of itself, like just by them doing something they’re poking fun at whatever it is. It’s an interesting feat, and one that could easily go very, very wrong.

Fortunately, it rarely does go wrong. Sometimes, yes, it can be rather stupid. But it’s all in good fun. And for me, the show seems to improve as it goes on, with the episodes on the second disc being better than those on the first. Or perhaps I simply succumbed to the show’s odd charm.

The Aquabats! Super Show! Season One! is a two-disc set that includes all thirteen episodes of the first season, along with some bonus features. Five of the episodes have commentary tracks.  The Aquabats are a band dressed as superheroes, and in this show they are superheroes – of a sort. Each episode features them battling some strange (and decidedly cheap-looking) monster. Each episode also has two cartoon segments. The first is a continuing story of the Aquabats going to an underwater city on the moon. The best bit about that cartoon is the narration, which is often hilarious. The second features Lil Bat. And every episode has a fake commercial. Some episodes have special guest stars, like Lou Diamond Phillips and Al Yankovic.

“Manant!” – The first episode of the first season opens with a montage of scenes “previously on the Aquabats! Super Show!” Perfect. The band is playing a party, singing how they’re not going to stop playing. The next day they haven’t stopped. That is, until a nearby explosion gets them into super hero mode. Manant is blowing up burger places. And the Aquabats are hungry and want to help.

 “Mysterious Egg!” – The Aquabats fight a creature that is a distant cousin of Snuffleupagus, perhaps combined with something out of the AD&D Monster Manual. Jimmy The Robot destroys it. Then when they find a giant egg, they tell Jimmy not to blow that up too. Each guy imagines what could be inside the egg, and each fantasy turns horrible, causing them to scream. My favorite is the egg as dance partner. Of course, the egg contains a man in a bird costume, like if Big Bird had gone all wrong in a parallel universe. (Too bad they blew up Snuffleupagus.) The song during the closing credits makes me laugh.

 “EagleClaw!” – In the opening montage, the furry monster from the previous episode shouts, “It’s a trap” like Admiral Ackbar. There’s a Star Wars reference in this episode’s cartoon too. Anyway, Eaglebones goes a little overboard in his guitar solo, and as  a result the fans all flock to him after the show, including one, EagleClaw, who gives him a bomb.

 “Laundry Day!” – After fighting garbage monsters at the dump, the Aquabats need to get their uniforms cleaned. But the crazy villain who created the garbage monsters has taken over the dry cleaners. The band sings a song about doughnuts. The best line is at the end, when Ricky says, “I’m going to try to relax a little more. But I need you guys to relax a little less.”

“Cowboy Android!” – The Aquabats are no help at all to some miners who have a monster problem. They do a song about not planning anything, then run out of gas in the desert. They find a town from the old west, run by a robot sheriff. I love the bit when he retrieves his fake mustache and affixes it to his metal face. There’s also a seriously cute blond extra in this episode (according to the commentary, she’s from Russia). This episode also features some stop-motion animation.

“Uberchaun!” – The Aquabats are playing golf. When Crash’s cell phone goes off, the commander scolds him, “Do you even know how important golf is to the world?” That’s great. And a few moments later he follow it with, “Golf is ninety-nine percent mental, one percent exercise.” The Aquabats are soon cursed by the Uberchaun after their ball hits him in the head. He gives them one hour to complete three challenges. This is a really fun episode.

“Pilgrim Boy!” – The Aquabats meet Pilgrim Boy, a man who is able to change shapes. But while they enjoy having him change into various objects, a giant creature is terrorizing the land. This episode is a play on those 1950s giant monster movies. And Al Yankovic guest stars as President Stuncastin (get it? if not, in the closing credits they even add the “t,” to make it Stuntcastin). I also like that the band’s version of fantasy football is a football videogame with wizards.

“Floating Eye Of Death!” – This episode features a fake ad for a Stoopid Fone, which is pretty funny. But by far my favorite bit from this one is the song about trucker hats. I absolutely love that scene.

“Night Of The Cactus!” – A meteorite hits in the desert, and a cactus reacts predictably – by becoming a monster and kidnaping a woman (yes, shades of King Kong). When the Aquabats reach the site of the crash, the commander says, “Ooh, I bet this thing’s full of science.” He touches it, and his arm turns monstrous (reminding me of that scene from Creepshow with Stephen King).

“Showtime!” – In the season’s final episode, the Aquabats are broke, and also sad because kids are more interested in other superheroes – Supermagic Powerman and Lanolin Lady. So they decide all they have to do is save the planet. But first they play a song. The aliens grab a little girl, and Supermagic Powerman (Al Yankovic) and Lanolin Lady arrive to save her. But the little girl turns evil, steals their magic amulet and kills them (proving once again it’s always best to open fire on little girls). I love that when Crash says, “This is for the children,” the alien creature responds, “Your children?” In this episode’s commentary track, they say they wrote the opening scene because the show was running out of money. Also, apparently there is a My Little Pony somewhere in that scene (I didn’t see it). Two previous members of the Aquabats make appearances in this episode.

Bonus Features

The bonus features include the show’s pilot, which also has a commentary track. The pilot is quite a bit different from the series. It still has a cartoon and a fake ad (two fake ads, actually), but the structure is different. The cartoon comes after the live-action plot has come to an end, rather than stuck in the middle somewhere. And the cartoon is nearly half the show. (I actually like this cartoon more than the ones in the series.) And there is concert footage shot at El Rey in Los Angeles.

There is also a five-minute blooper reel. And there is something titled Behind The Scenes!, but it’s not really a look behind the scenes. Instead it’s a lot of staged silliness.

This show stars Christian Jacobs as M.C. Bat Commander, Chad Larson as Crash McLarson, James R. Briggs Jr. as Jimmy The Robot, Richard Falomir as Ricky Fitness and Ian Fowles as Eaglebones Falconhawk.

The Aquabats! Super Show! Season One! is scheduled to be released on May 21, 2013 through Shout! Factory (yes, another exclamation point).

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