AQUA INTEGRAL EPISODE PROJECT L (30-21)
30. Hands on a Hamburger
“Come on over and visit my big ankle and I’m gonna kick your ass with such force it will open a timerift to where Jesus lives!”
In this surprising finale to some trilogy of error, the Aqua Teens lock themselves in a game of wits and survival. The game? Keep one hand on a building-size bacon cheeseburger. The last person with a hand on a burger (as per the bylaws) gets the whole enchilada (an expression that may give people gas).
The premise is something, but Master Shake is everything this episode. Committing his heart and soul into acquiring a burger for free (even if it may have soaked by Meatwad’s TT), Shake undertakes a remarkably ruthless campaign. It’s laugh-inducing to see him sucker everybody from children to adults and get away with it, thanks to the impotent omnipresent overseer Phil. Phil is also quite ruthless, for he is so hilariously wedded to the bylaws that he inadvertently lets Shake cheat, all the while making boring small talk with the remaining contestants.
The end then provides a nice twist to the matter, especially since the burger is completely rotten and overrun with ants, as Meatwad misunderstands a simple request for food as an invitation to cannibalism. You know that’s fine… The mostly benign hilarity of having hands on a hamburger needed to have that dark turn. Phil’s an asshole anyway.
“This is Mr. Sparkles; he is a magician and he is not to be touched!”
In line with popular belief, I am a horrible human being. You are too if you find Shake murdering two kittens by defrosting them in a microwave hilarious. C’est la Aqua Teen.
If it isn’t those profoundly dark turns of animal cruelty that makes this episode hilarious, it’s Meatwad’s heartfelt ‘song’ at the beginning (to a previously used musical track, listen to “Ezekial”), and how the episode completely derails from its very own title. What appears to be a tale that sounds like it’d focus mostly on Carl’s male enhancement machine and subsequent side effects (luminescent crotch and fecal matter), is immediately swept away for a zombie pet extravaganza with lots of unprotected sex. It all works in the episode’s favour, as it’s a perfect derailment into what essentially seemed to be wholly unrelated events from the episode. Shake may have got his comeuppance for sticking every pet Meatwad had in the microwave (including a gorilla, surprisingly), but it is done in a brilliant fashion that somehow has Shake winning the day and riding away on a gay zombie gorilla bus into the sunset. That’s really something.
You know what’s also really something? Being a bad person, and with “Ree-dickyoulous” it’s totally worth it.
“Hey let’s just joke around and entertain 18 to 34 years old, shall we?”
What better way to ring in 100 episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force than a realization that in order to be on syndicated television it has to have 100 full half-hour episodes. Since the show is aired in 15-minute blocks, that cuts it down to 50. This infuriates Dana Snyder, who wanted royalties for it, and somehow spends his entire time in universe in a Master Shake costume.
Okay, fine. This is an okay episode premise, same goes with Frylock figuring out an overdone number prophecy trope involving “100”. As per Aqua Teen, it gets humourously weirder and weirder, until an anthropomorphic 100 monster (voiced by Rob Smigel) appears to collect their souls (and syndication money). Then it gets amazing when the show transitions into a Scooby-Doo parody named “Aqua Unit Patrol Squad” (which is the name of the next season!). They hit all the right notes with that one, from the psychedelic opening sequence, the animation style, to the jabs at the format that made Hanna-Barberra a shit-ton of money for a couple decades. It’s terrific, and then arrives at perfect anticlimax where the 100 Monster concedes defeat since Shake failed to get the show syndicated, but leaves to rape and behead (not in that order) the token hot chick that came with the van. Terrifying, but then again it’s Dana Snyder’s idea and he isn’t funny.
We love you anyway, Dana (or I do). You elevate EVERY show you’re in.
27. Super Squatter
“You need anything else, there’re some ants.”
Frylock makes the fatal mistake this episode of entrusting Shake with responsibility, specifically the payment of their bills. Shake instead flushes them down the toilet and goes to live in Carl’s house instead. Carl makes two mistakes there. The first is irresponsible gun handling, the second is of course thinking that Shake would help him any. I don’t care if you’re hemorrhaging copious amounts of blood, trying to get the Cup to help you should NEVER be on your list of options.
Shake’s profound apathy in this episode initially had me hating it, but then after a while I realized that I didn’t truly ‘get’ it. In fact it’s… actually pretty bitchin’ the next few rewatches. Shake’s dismissal of any self-control starts off well enough, but once Carl shoots himself in the foot it’s even better. Whether it is snacking on pretzels or ordering a Philly Cheese Steak on the phone, the sense of urgency to help Carl is lost on him, and eventually on all of us. Letting Shake run carte blanche enables him, and trying to get him to be responsible makes such ‘enabling’ even worse.
This all results in a dark ending where Shake DOESN’T get his comeuppance, thanks to Frylock being a pansy and lacking in any assertiveness to get Carl to the hospital. You know what? That’s fine. Shake is not the problem in this episode. It is people like Carl and Frylock who are too dumb and demure enough respectively not to show what’s what. Good for us though, since this episode is damn fun once you get it, and not expect anything karmic to ever happen.
26. The Greatest Story Ever Told
“Get your hands in the air! Step away from the cocaine and ALL that delicious prime rib!”
Three effing days later and the episode count of Aqua Teen Forever is brought up to nine episodes. While Meatwad and Shake partake of the latter’s flesh in celebration of their Lord and Saviour Jimmy, Frylock and Carl find themselves the recipients of immortality thanks to some magical shampoo. Now, with a bored Christopher Lambert they spend most of the episode finding exciting and grotesque ways to die.
There goes most of the emotional pathos of the previous episode, but you know what it is fine. The Aqua Teens go down in a blaze of absurd, gory, glory. You can’t say no to the childlike wonder of Carl and Frylock as they murder each other with reckless abandon and you can’t say no to the strange new religion Shake, Meatwad, and some of the show’s Rogues Gallery follow. It’s a perfect final convergence that lets all the players in the Aqua Teen’s past converge alongside them, only to have George Lowe mete out some final assault rifle justice in earnest. It’s like Excel Saga Episode 26 all over again. Yeah maybe some pathos is nice, but it’s nothing if the show doesn’t go too far in the end in terms of poor taste. This one has it in spades, and serves as a great complement to the previous.
It seems only fitting that the last actual shot we’ll see of our four main characters is in that very living room where a great majority of the plots took place. Hard to believe that’s the last time (For Real THIS Time, they probably Fucking mean it).
25. Zucotti Manicotti
“Ooo, Zucotti Manicotti says ‘Nothin’ worse than someone that curse.’”
Outside of Frylock, Meatwad has always been lacking in proper role models. Thanks to the power of TV though, Meatwad sees one in a charismatic handpuppet named Zucotti Manicotti, who just so happens to have a business empire that charges up the butt when it comes to merchandise. Aside from greed, the high value of the products may be due to the psychic connection the real Zucotti has with a fair number of them. After Meatwad shoots a $3000 handpuppet in self-defense, due to Shake scaring the bejesus out of him with it, it is up to Zucotti Manicotti to come on down and show Meatwad the true and righteous path.
…And then this phrase can be used for the umpteenth time: It goes about as well as expected.
Think of this episode as the “Homer’s Enemy” of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. This may be what happens when somebody (or in this case something) with a disposition as close to analogous to a real world person has to deal with the Aqua Teens. In fact out of all the positive role models Meatwad has had in the show (Frylock and to some extent, Ol’ Drippy), Zucotti is by far the most competent. With his level-headed, authoritative voice, done by the terrific, and uncredited, Phil Morris, Zucotti realizes firsthand that such dulcet toned appeals to reason are impossible to make towards Meatwad. Meatwad’s too innocent and shallow, dangerously so, to see the light as he is also swayed by that same Zucotti handpuppet he shot. The juxtaposition between the real Zucotti and the handpuppet, manipulated once again by Shake and with voice completely unlike the real Zucotti is hilarious.
You get a small tinge of hope that maybe… just maybe the trials Meatwad puts up to prove who is the real Zucotti will let truth shine a light in the darkness. But the universe doesn’t work that way in Aqua Teens, and instead Shake sends Meatwad to perhaps the darkest place he’s ever been in. Either way, get ready to laugh hard.
24. Video Ouija
“Chicken arise… ARISE, CHICKEN!”
Shake will put his mind to anything when pushed to his limit (or if he’s really really bored). Here, he goes so far that he commits suicide just so he can haunt Meatwad in his new Atari 52XX game, Video Ouija. Unfortunately it got boring, so Shake is stuck in the Land of the Dead (and with some ghost’s sister’s baby). It’s up to Frylock now to bring him back to life.
This one has always been amusing to me; it isn’t so much the dark demise of Shake, but pretty much everything else. This episode is the first appearance of the Aqua Teens’s game console, and it is always playing weirdly amusing games. If it isn’t Video Ouija, it’s Insult Master, an endearing little tale where burns and comebacks are the way to go. It fits perfectly with their no income lifestyle, and the later games that appear on it (see “Moonmaster”) never disappoint. When it comes time to resurrect Shake, Frylock must choose between the legendary Billywitchdoctor.com (which, afaik, is an open domain right now) and some weirdo with a lame coin trick. The way the latter compels Frylock to give the former a chance is hilarious despite his brevity. I think it’s that face.
Still, billywitchdoctor.com’s moment to shine in that last third is a riot. The man’s an incompetent, but if isn’t the suggestive things he’s saying at the start (“Now kiss him, deep with tongue.”), it’s the redundant incantations, the smoke machine, and the tribal drums that resonate throughout. It’s a goddamn good time, even if Frylock destroyed him for ineptitude.
23. Revenge of the Trees
“Go back to your strip malls… where values are king!”
It’s the Labor Day Weekend, and what better way to celebrate it than a flash fry of a cow force-fed various savoury ingredients and injected with cheddar and pepperjack cheese! Shake, Meatwad, and Carl do just that, but unfortunately care little about disposing of the giant vat of oil used for said frying, leaving a giant mess in the Woods. Now, the Woods wants revenge.
Once Frylock notices that the ticket Shake was given for his transgression is “From the Woods”, then the episode really gets going. The Woods are by far the dumbest antagonists in the entire series, and their attempt to try Shake in what they deem to be a legitimate court of law is hilarious. Bereft of technology and common sense, their attempt to implicate Shake by video footage by way of tree branch allows for good times despite the obvious guilt of the accused. Then it gets dark to hilarious effect when Carl is found to be used as a Post-It Note (in his words), infusing the laughter with an extra cringe for great measure. It all meshes incredibly well, and little extra bits like Meatwad going on about having a wife as well as the sheer delicious death of a flash-fried cow gives this episode a positive charge.
Thank God trees are stupid indeed.
22. Super Hero
“Sex with animals!? There’s no time, man!”
In an exciting development that can only happen when product comes before concept, Shake conceives his own superhero alter ego: The Drizzle. Through powers that came from a radioactive worm, the Drizzle can control clouds, and rain justice over the bad guys! Or so Shake would like to think….
I love how much of a self-inflicted, slow motion, disaster this entire episode is. Shake attempts to grant himself powers by dousing his body in radioactive chemicals. Yet, he instead is slowly consumed by them. While this is happening; his premature concept of the Drizzle is questioned by both Frylock and Meatwad to great effect. He’s got the merchandise, but he don’t got no hype, no motivation, and not even a proper backstory. As a result when Meatwad drops a logic bomb on him with regards to how people can try again after it rains, never mind go inside and “rob banks. And kill people.” Then it gets even worse when he tries to change his hero name and make alterations in merchandise already under production. Then when it comes time to actually BE a hero (complete with mask and a busy t-shirt of criminals getting rained), he instead sets everything inflame.
How very Shake, and how very “Super Hero”. The foolish Cup built his Fortress of Precipitation upon sand, and karma rained it away. Outstanding.
21. Deleted Scenes
“Our liability coverage is zero. Our balls however, are enormous”
Apart from the series finale, this is the only other episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force to have a 22-minute runtime (although it’s presented as two episodes in other formats). That’s fine by me, as the antics of the “Untitled Master Shake Project” are worth that extra time. Go off on a quest for honeys that are beyond fly.
Utilizing a home equity loan, Carl pimps out his 2 Wycked with a keg full of fuzzy navels, a scrolling marquee that says he’s up for grabs/crabs, plasma screen, and most importantly, hypno-rims. That last part is very important as it would, in the words of Ignignokt fresh after totaling Carl’s car for them, allow a man to go off on a quest for ‘honeys that are beyond fly.’ Then Carl gets hypnotized, allowing for the most daring acts of Carl Abuse you’ll ever see on the show.
The show gets really grotesque at times during later seasons, but it always finds a way to resonate in a fashion that makes you think fondly of it in hindsight. Never say no to Fat Man shoving a broom up his ass, wearing a bee hive as a hat, and slicing flesh off with a butter knife. While it may seem like the Plutonians and the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future seem superfluous and didn’t do much… That’s mostly true, but that’s what makes it awesome. It’s such a failed project and by being there they add so much to that fact, with nary a worthwhile contribution even to Carl Abuse.
Sandwiched inbetween is Shake at his usually very good level of vanity, maintaining constant denial at the quality of “Untitled Master Shake Project” or the ethics of his actions. His abuse of Meatwad is welcome standard, and his dismissal of a Carl who has gotten wise to the broom shoving antics is golden. He maintains such a veneer even at gunpoint, as he lectures Carl throughout the credits about method acting as the other has a shotgun to his face. No begging, no whining, not even a concern for survival, but a lot of humour to be sure.