STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $14.98
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
• Art of Chowder (slideshow)

The Pitch

The World of Strawberry Shortcake as if ripped from the pages of Heavy Metal magazine.

The Humans

Ummmm… ? There’s this old blue caterer with big nose and mustache (Mung Daal) who might be human, a cat/bunny/bear kid-apprentice (Chowder), an unintelligible “Radda radda!” rock monster (Schnitzel), a plump and grouchy pixie with a giant mushroom hat (Truffles), several other weird critters… talking food, ummmm…

Even my old and bitter heart grows three sizes while watching the climax to the holiday classic, “How the Pimp Slapped Bitch-mas”.

The Nutshell

“When Chowder’s in the kitchen, Mung Daal Catering Company’s most popular dish is a heaping helping of trouble! From poisoned dishes to ruined relationships, there is always something brewing in Marzipan City… It’s a never ending mess that Chowder always manages to clean up!”

The back of the box speaks the truth. Testify!

10 Hilarious Helpings:
* The Wrong Address & The Wrong Customer
* Burple Nurples & Schnitzel Makes a Deposit
* Gazpacho Stands Up & A Taste of Marzipan
* The Puckerberry Overlords & The Elemelons
* Sniffleball & Mung on the Rocks

Hilarious, indeed. Would have loved a bigger helping, though.

“These Clot Dogs aren’t made from lips and assholes are they?”
“No, Ma’am. The Clot-Mobile’s jumbo clot franks are made from 100% coagulated fibrinous vessel-obstructing thrombi.”
“Well, thank goodness… But… is this must-turd made from all natural Turd Must?”
“Let’s not get into details…”

The Lowdown

I have nothing but love for this show. So much so, that after I glided through this disc, I ordered Volume 1 (order yours HERE). The second time I watched these cartoons for the screengrabs, I found myself getting sucked into the goofy fun all over again.

C.H. Greenblatt (former Spongebob storyboard artist) has created such a vibrant and wacky world with Chowder. Supposedly, Richard Scarry’s work was a big influence on the show’s design, but it reminded me most of the Fred Wolfe cartoons of the 70s/80s (Puff the Magic Dragon, Strawberry Shortcake, and especially The Point), the Ralph Bakshi translation of R. Crumb’s Fritz the Cat, Allegro Non Tropo (the Italian parody of Fantasia), Yellow Submarine, and some classic Hanna-Barbera properties from the Hair Bear Bunch era. See also Jim Woodring’s and Dave Cooper’s fabulous comic art for more recent contemporaries that come to mind. It’s got such a throwback time capsule vibe from the decade I grew up in… oddly organic and psychadelic.  I was pre-disposed to feel comfortable with the visuals, but the writing also hits me squarely in the funnybone.

Why be embarrassed about an unzipped fly when you’re sporting a Prince-Alberted proboscis shaped like that?

Marzipan City, a setting inspired by Moroccan and Indian aesthetic,  acts as a backdrop for the strange antics (for which the titular swallowing/regurgitating Chowder is usually the catalyst) that transpire through any given episode. The gag writers utilize rapid fire absurdist humor, sight gags, puns, classic slapstick, potty jokes, and clever banter… a kitchen sink approach that complements the theme of the show and the “harmonious chaos” of this world.

“Why does Schnitzel always get so happy on Fivesday? Is it the day he makes a poo?”

Meanwhile… in Detroit, Michigan.

The “gumbo” technique also extends into the mixed-media presentation. On top of the traditional animation, Chowder features stop-motion, puppets, moving characters decorated with static patterns (creating a neat effect), and imaginative food-based transitions. The “Sword in the Stone (Sorceror’s Apprentice) at a caterer” premise is basic, but offers plenty of fodder for jokes and strange encounters with Marzipan’s freaky ingredients. The characters are all named after real food, while the dishes and food items (which continue the Muppet tradition of talking produce) all carry silly twisted monickers that could only make sense in Chowder… or maybe the planet Melmac. The innuendo goes over my daughter’s head, but she enjoys watching it with me. Probably due to my constant chuckling throughout. And the fart jokes.

Fans of Spongebob, Ren & Stimpy, Dexter’s Lab, Sam & Max, Flapjack, and quality cartoons everywhere should be checking this out. All in all, the cartoon’s creators have whipped up a tasty recipe. It’s just a shame Chowder‘s an acquired taste, judging by the show’s questionable network support and subsequent reception. UPDATE: The CN support is no longer “questionable”. I hear Chowder‘s been cancelled. >:(

The Read-Along guide to grotesque internet memes! “When you hear the NSFW vomiting, it’s time to turn the page…”

The Package

That’s Mung Daal on the cover (and disc within). I would think a cast shot or still from an episode would better advertise the contents, but they seem to be spreading the characters out across the releases (Chowder was on Vol 1’s)… Minor Gripe. A MAJOR gripe though… The smallish amount of material on this volume! WB had been releasing The Batman and Ben10 complete seasons with almost thrice as much toonage, for roughly the same price. I understand this show probably isn’t as popular and they have to make their money back somewhere, but as a consumer, I’m onto their anime-release-emulating tricks (under-2 hour “volumes”).

The source for all my DVD review captions… REVEALED!

Audio and video are what you’d expect from an animated tv show, but the special features are severely lacking here. The show’s arguably for a slightly older crowd than Nick’s SpongeBob and I (as a cartoonist and DVD hound) would have really liked to have seen some behind the scenes interviews and making-ofs highlighted. Storyboards, concept & design process, voice acting… anything? There is a slideshow containing art from the cartoon (backgrounds and such), but it wasn’t enough for me. Chowder deserves a better release. It doesn’t even get love from the CN site… Thurs at 7:30? Not according to the schedule. At least there’s a game to play while you hunt for its ambiguously abused timeslot.

Yours truly, when I discovered how little love WB injected into this DVD release. Butt? Hurt.

*And hey, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack (another CN toon I adore), is hitting DVD September 15th (pre-order it HERE)!

Toons= 9 out of 10
DVD= 4 out of 10