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Aqua Teen Hunger Force Vols. I, II, III DVD

By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Wednesday, January 26, 2005 @ 1:01 PM

(Cartoon Network/ Warner Bros.

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Cartoon Network’s late-night forays into comedy have yielded a solid breakout hit from the underground in Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The 15-minute episodes which chronicle the antics of three fast-food icons-turned-superheroes might appear silly as a concept, but in practice is nothing but hilarious. (Especially if you’re baked.) The shows have been released on DVD in three volumes of two-disc sets. As the launch of the new season of shows is slated for summer 2005, there’s now plenty of time to catch up on your favorite episodes, or get acclimated with ATHF if you miss the shows when they air (usually late Sunday nights).

So what does this have to do with rock? As much as Danzig and Zakk Wylde do: both of them lend their voices to their very funny animated likenesses, in different episodes. But first, an explanation for the uninitiated…

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The Aqua Teen Hunger Force is comprised of three friends who are seen less fighting crime than bickering amongst themselves and using their neighbor Carl’s pool. The ATHF is: “Master Shake,” a sarcastic talking milkshake who is basically a self-absorbed TV-addict who craves nothing more than his own entertainment; “Frylock,” a goatee-sporting large box of French fries who is the voice of reason and “Meatwad,” a child-like rolling meatball (or perhaps a pound of ground beef, before cooking), who sort-of sounds like Jennifer Tilly on helium, and ultimately needs to be watched over as he gets into trouble more often than not.

Each episode begins with a 30-second intro of “Laboratory of Dr. Weird, South Jersey Shore” where Dr. Weird (who looks like a villain from the ‘70s cartoon, Superfriends), shouts, “Gentlemen, BEHOLD!” While his assistant Steve looks on in horror, there is a visual joke of some kind. This gives way to the show’s theme song, a call-to-arms rap from Schoolly-D that might even grow on those who don’t care for rap.

The Aqua Teens inhabit a rented house somewhere on the South Jersey Shore, next to their neighbor Carl, a balding, beleaguered New Jersey malcontent who walks around wearing only sweats and a tank top and is often given to fits of anger over the antics of his neighbors.

In almost every episode, we are introduced to a new character, usually an alien or some wretched creature which arrives to drive the story. Many of the aliens themselves are hilarious, such as the recurring “Mooninites” (one-dimensional inhabitants of The Moon who are super-egotistical but possess the lame abilities of an early Atari 2600 video game character) and “Emory and Oglithorpe,” two alien creatures from Pluto who… well, Emory is the stoner-voiced accomplice to the angry German-accented Oglithorpe, who are especially entertaining when trying to take over the planet, or just steal cable.

The animation, though crude, is second to the excellent scripts and voices, which are probably already making their way into the vernacular, if they haven’t already. Each episode, much like The Simpsons, offers some social commentary, and now and then, acts as a morality tale. Each 2-disc set offers 13 episodes and bonus material; but nothing is as valuable as the shows themselves.

Of interest to rock-fans, however, are two episodes in particular.

In an episode titled, “Cyberknetic Ghost of Christmas Past From the Future,” (ATHF - DVD Volume Two), Carl is visited by a garrulous robot who tells a completely unique story of how Christmas came to be. Upon learning that his house is on an elfin graveyard and will be covered in blood for eternity, Carl decides to sell and move. Enter Glenn Danzig. Danzig, who is shirtless by the way, reacts as any prospective buyer might.

Danzig: “This is fuckin’ great. I’m gonna line this thing with gargoyles for the sacrifices. Now, uh… is there a way to get the blood to flow up the walls?”

In “Spirit Journey Formation Anniversary,” (ATHF - DVD Volume Three), Master Shake composes a new version of the “Happy Birthday” song to celebrate Meatwad’s birthday. His plan is get Geddy Lee from Rush to sing, and have Zakk Wylde play guitar. Before we see the man himself, we are treated to some fine guitar work from Zakk, even if the song is butchered by a hilarious send-up of Geddy Lee (who does not appear in the episode). Allusions are made to Zakk being very expensive to hire for the recording. Later, a pissed off Zakk shows up looking for his money, and wackiness ensues.

Zakk: “Yo, is the milkshake here? The beatin’ I’m about to put on him is gonna be indescribable.”

There is more, much more, from both Danzig and Zakk in those episodes; but to say more would ruin the pleasure of seeing them. That both of these hard-rock icons made the conscious decision to appear on the show with the willingness to mock themselves goes a long way toward enriching their public personas. That they were fucking funny as hell is worth the time and money set down for these DVDs.

The shows are highly entertaining, if only for the interplay of the main characters. Shake’s recklessness is only overshadowed by his one-liners, and he is best when mocking others. Frylock is a dry wit, and Meatwad is fairly abstract, juggling childlike naivety with wry observational humor. Show topics cover a variety of ideas and often parody social behavior and issues, (obsession with consumerism, beauty, technology): but the show is best when it is flying into obscure territory. Plus, there are tons of aliens, and the one-liners that Carl drops are often priceless. And there are great references to music. “Mayhem of the Mooninites” (ATHF - DVD Volume One) features “The Foreigner Belt of Power” which literally enacts concepts of Foreigner songs (“Cold As Ice,” “Double-Vision.”) A couple of episodes feature parodies of rap-singers, and a few episodes feature guest-voices from comedians like David Cross and Todd Barry, among others. Bonus features include show scripts, stills, deleted scenes, and running commentary from the show creators.

ATHF may not be for everyone, but these discs are sure to please the die-hard fans of the show. (“GET ME… THE UNIVERSAL REMONSTER!”) Be warned: if you become addicted to this show you may find yourself hopelessly distracted and losing large chunks of time as you neglect household chores, girlfriends, family, CD reviews…)

Curious newcomers can check Cartoon Network for show times.

All volumes: * * * *

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