DTV Hell: Seth MacFarlane’s Ironically titled “Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy”

Okay, so, it’s been about three weeks now since the last review, and about a week and a half since I said “a few days for the next review.” So, I suppose setting my own deadlines isn’t motivating enough yet. Gotta work on that.

This review, however, has been a long time coming, as it is something I’ve wanted to get into for a while. Back in 2008, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane decided to get together his many writers and create an internet-based series of short sketches that, at the time, seemed kinda funny. Cut to May of 2009, and a DVD was released, featuring uncensored versions of all the sketches shown online, along with some new sketches. The humor of the shorts had kind of dried up by this time, or maybe I just stopped being amused by the specific type of humor that this DVD specialized in.

I could go over the entire disc, because I actually did, making notes for ever sketch, but honestly, its just best to point out the few good sketches, and then explain what is wrong with most, if not all, of the rest of the sketches.

So, first, the good stuff. What little of it there is, anyway. Starting off, we have the “Super Mario saves the Princess” sketch. It is, quite honestly, very funny, especially if you have played the original game. And, of course, almost everyone has at least seen enough of the Mario franchise to understand the jokes. Mario is one of the most recognizable characters in the world, so everyone has at least some baseline for the jokes. It mostly avoids juvenile humor, and is probably the most basic funny sketch in the whole set. For similar reasons, the “Die, Sweet Roadrunner” sketch is kinda funny, though the ending will turn at least some potential audience members off.

Other sketches that kinda work are the last sketch, where Wil Wheaton shows up for no reason and decimates the fourth wall, and in an ironic way, the “Two Ducks watch Meet the Parents” sketch, which gives an audience a solid understanding of where the writers of this series think they are coming from.

So, what’s wrong with this DVD? Well, let’s think about the first sketch, “The Frog Prince.” It starts off with a joke that will get at least some people to laugh. However, what stands out is that the last line starts us on the biggest theme that will dominate the entire series: FECES!

Yeah, there is more gross out, bathroom humor on this DVD than there is in most seasons of Family Guy or South Park. Poop, graphic sex and anatomy jokes, and, of course, two, count em, TWO AIDS sketches. Oh, and one of the AIDS sketches throws in Bestiality. The sign of a true winner, right there.

Continuing on, we get sketches like “Cat Staff Meeting” and “The Bartender Says,” which have potential to cause laughs mostly by pure surprise. Hell, “The Bartender Says” isn’t even that clear what the joke is supposed to be.

Our other obvious problem that doesn’t have to do with grossing out the audience comes from the final bit of “Die, Sweet Roadrunner.” Effectively, the sketch is about Wile E. Coyote finally killing the roadrunner, and his life losing all meaning. That is, until he finds Jesus. And it is with the reaction to that reveal that kills very little potential audience, but still manages to piss me off. The anti-religious ideas that exist in this production are kind of annoying, coming fully in the limelight with “The Wizard of Oz, adjusted for reality” and “Monkeys talk about religion.” These sketches are back to back, too, and both of them let the beliefs of the writers take control of the sketch. As I have explained with The Time Changer and Apocalypse, you can’t do that with entertainment. You have to make the message organic, let it just be in the story. And yes, that is really hard, but we already know these people can do it.  Or, at least do a better job with attempting it.

To talk about the humor again, I have to admit, I’m not good at writing jokes, though that might be because I prefer wit over toilet humor, and wit is harder to write. I like the idea of comedy that works multiple times, not the kind of tacked on punchlines that this DVD is filled to the brim with. Hell, some of the sketches are either just a punchline, or they just plain don’t have a punchline. I could also complain about the handful of sketches that are mean-spirited toward celebrities, but honestly, that’s par for the course when you have people like Paris Hilton and Snooky being considered celebrities for doing fuck all with their lives. And I don’t care if I spelled Snooky wrong or not, I’m not even wasting the time to look that up.

I find it hard to limit this DVD to one circle specifically, but I think Wrath is the most appropriate, due to the nature of the anti-religious sketches, but I’m not sure where you would catagorize AIDS jokes. I’m at a loss, since I don’t want to invent a tenth circle, but I would say that this is the film that would best qualify for such things. Could probably lump this together with The 41 Year Old Virgin.

So, what’s next? Well, video supplements for some of these reviews in the future, as well as possible full video reviews, but also, we are not going to be pre-classifying reviews as good or bad. Next time, Rayearth: an animated production from the far east. And I know what some of you are thinking: Wasn’t that a series? Well, that’s not the same Rayearth, my friends. This one is much shorter, and much, much less entertaining.

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