STUDIO: Turner Home Entertainment
MSRP: $29.98
RUNNING TIME: 149 Minutes
• “Audio Commmentary” on selected episodes
• Promos
• Comic Con 2004 – footage from 2004 Adult Swim Panel
• Spacecataz
• Raydon – Short Film
• Fan Art Gallery

• "Play All" gag
• Making of the Recording of Spacegate World
• Trailer

Aqua Teen Hunger Force is a terrible show. Don’t get confused, I like the show a lot and it is really funny. Aqua Teen Hunger Force is a powerfully profane and hilarious show, to be sure. What I mean when I say the show is “terrible” is that it is the kind of “terrible” your Mom, wife or girlfriend recognizes when she drifts into the living room to see why you are laughing yourself into a hernia. She may hover behind the couch trying to ask you “What is THAT?” or “How can you watch THAT?” for a few seconds until she realizes that she will not be able to pull your attention away, then she turns to leave the room mildly annoyed with you, muttering “that’s terrible” to herself. Doesn’t that kind of proclamation by unknowing and uncaring loved ones always make you feel like you are ultimately doing something right? I’ve experienced this same scenario several times over the years with shows like Beavis and Butthead, The Ren and Stimpy Show, The Tick animated series and of course South Park. Every generation seems to have a contemptible and complex animated program to horrify the more sensitive members of society. That’s a beautiful thing. Aqua Teen Hunger Force is terrible, which is why it’s so damned wonderful. Now volume 4 is here to further punish your funny bones. Present elbows and enjoy.

"Way to go, Heaven’s Gate Cult. We were running a little bit late

and you jumped the gun."

The Show

Between Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim program schedule and multiple DVD releases, you’ve had plenty of opportunities to experience this show’s bizarre premise over the years. What started out in the show’s early episodes as a story about three animated fast food items (Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad) investigating strange goings-on in South Jersey devolved quickly into the meal deal trio, and their put-upon neighbor Carl, just hanging out at home waiting for strange goings-on to come to them. And oh, how they have come. Here’s a quick rundown of the 13 episodes in this set:

Video Ouija – Meatwad plays a spirit-summoning video game, but Master Shake wants to ruin it for him by killing himself and entering the game. Meatwad has become bored and abandons the game before Shake can cross over. Frylock hires a shaman named to raise Shake from the dead. Too bad Shake isn’t made of chicken.

Unremarkable Voyage – Frylock invents a shrink ray. Shake and Meatwad only want to use it for selfish reasons. When Meatwad eats a microchip and Frylock gets Shake to shrink him down so he can go in after it, Shake takes the opportunity to express his new dominance by shrinking everyone and making them fight each other for his amusement.

Mooninites 3: Remooned – The Mooninites torture Ignignokt’s Uncle Cliff and steal what they think is his government welfare check. They bother the Aqua Teens until Shake and Meatwad offer to help cash it. The giant “check” begins to give off deadly radiation and Carl loses all of his hair (the two incidents aren’t related, exactly).

Even Satan couldn’t turn an Atari into an XBox 360 right after launch.

Gee Whiz – Frylock finds a news story on the internet about a billboard with an image of Jesus (called Gee-Whiz because of standards and practices) in the stock of a rifle. It turns out the image is of a long-haired outdoorsman who wants to “take you high enough”. Ted Nugent also guest stars, coincidentally.

E-Dork – Master Shake joins the era of telecommunications by ordering an E-Helmet, a set of giant components that perform tasks other, smaller cell phones can. When Shake tries to one-up Frylock and his cutting edge devices, the E-Helmet grows out of control. Carl uses his for porn.

Little Brittle – Meatwad once again enjoys the rhymes of the shape-shifting, diaper-wearing demon rapper that has tried to destroy the world in other Aqua Teen episodes. This time he’s an old man in a seedy retirement home looking for an "Eastern European" cure for mortality.

Robositter – Frylock and Shake need to get jobs, leaving Meatwad at home with Carl. When Carl can’t handle the responsibility, Frylock builds a robot babysitter with the persona of a teenage girl. Like all day-care providers eventually do, the robositter abuses her sittee and goes to the mall with her robot friend Sheila.

Mooninites 4: The Final Mooning – The pixilated pisspots once again visit the Aqua Teens when Meatwad beats level 3 of the Moon Master video game. The Mooninites say they want to enlist Meatwad’s formidable skills in their war against the vicious Gorgotron that terrorizes the Moon. What they really want to do is sucker Meatwad, and anyone else who plays the game, into their pyramid scheme for easy money. Everyone falls for the ruse except Frylock.

"I said to hell with it. I decided to deal with the Paris Hilton nonsense

once and for all."

The South Bronx Parasite Diet – Meatwad needs to lose a few pounds, so Frylock puts him on a diet of healthy food and regular exercise. Carl has his own diet comprised of sitting on his ass and eating special candy bars. Frylock bets Carl that Meatwad will lose more weight than he will. Master Shake thinks he’s part of the bet, so he tries to screw it up for Meatwad. All hell breaks loose.

Dusty Gozongas – Master Shake busts a gas line for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games he wants to hold in the front yard. When Frylock extinguishes the plan, a boobalicious service person/stripper named Dusty Gozongas shows up to investigate. She ends up stirring up the sexual urges of Carl and Shake, who will do anything to keep the trashy technician shaking her money maker in their neighborhood.

T-Shirt of the Dead – Master Shake steals an ancient Egyptian t-shirt from a museum because he believes it has special powers. When Meatwad washes the shirt for Shake it shrinks, so Meatwad gets it instead and finds out it really does have powers. Shake wants Meatwad to summon a plague of snakes, but Meatwad is only able to produce multiple Easter Bunnies and a surly Santa Claus. Evil, evil deeds ensue.

Hypno-Germ – Master Shake picks up a contagious disease from a gas station toilet seat that basically drives him insane. Frylock figures out that it will take an infusion of Mexican jumping beans to drive the parasites from Shake’s cup, setting up an internal battle of operatic proportions.

Spacegate World – The Aqua Teens take a vacation in Panama City, leaving Carl to watch Meatwad’s dolls and abuse their phone line with pay-for-sex calls. An overly helpful robot named Rudy flies south to rat on Carl, who stumbles upon an as-yet unmentioned dimensional gate in Frylock’s bedroom. Mild skin irritation happens.

Decades later, former Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung was still trying to

convince people of the brilliance of Kilroy Was Here.

Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis, the creative duo behind the show, are a couple of seriously demented fellas. They manage to come up with some of the most bizarre situations imaginable, and somehow the content continues to get better with each set of episodes. I’m a little disappointed that they decided to replace the Dr. Weird intro segments with Spacecataz, snippets of a continuing prank battle between the Mooninites (Ignignokt and Err) and Plutonians (Oglethorpe and Emory). The Dr. Weird segments added an entirely different and special level of madness to the proceedings because they were so unrelated to the rest of the Aqua Teen universe (except for a few episodes here and there). The whole Spacecataz story (included in its entirety as an extra feature with more continuity and an ending) is a running succession of classic, yet well-worn, practical jokes that didn’t grab me so much.

How you judge Aqua Teen Hunger Force (i.e., whether you’re in the “terrible” or “great” camp) depends on how much you allow yourself to like the characters, despite their many, unchecked flaws. It is your enjoyment of the characters that allows the crazy circumstances they find themselves in to make some kind of sense. None of these food products are ever going to apologize for the way they act, so you’ll have to accept them warts and all. Once you do, you’ll be drawn into their illogical world time and again. I accepted them rather quickly, as I do with most of the smart, irreverent humor I come in contact with. Seriously, if there is someone in your house who wants you to give up on this show and be an adult who likes only safe comedy shows, consider moving out or breaking up. When you lose your ability to laugh at the ridiculous, you kill off that magic-loving child living inside you. You don’t want to be a child killer, do you?

9.0 out of 10

"Sorry, I don’t know Kevin Bacon and I have no idea what happened

to your son after he appeared in that basketball movie."

The Look

It’s as pure as the driven, albeit multi-colored, snow. It’s not one of the most meticulously crafted series on TV, but the colors and shading come through brilliantly on DVD with no noticeable edge enhancement. The frequent blood sprays look especially good.

9.0 out of 10

The Noise

The sound design is surprisingly robust for a short-form cartoon show. From the lead voice tracks all the way down to the little squishing sound Meatwad makes when he rolls around, everything sounds very good. I noted some strong bass during the musical sequences. The 5.1 Dolby sound offers a respectable dose of surround effects as well.

9.0 out of 10

"I slurped myself."

The Goodies

First off, don’t press “Play All” thinking you will get to watch all of the episodes in sequence. Instead…well I won’t ruin it for you. I’ll simply say that you will get to watch all of the episodes, but you won’t watch for long before heading back to the main menu to select an episode manually. We get commentary tracks for 9 of the 13 episodes (strangely the other four episodes have a secondary 2.0 track that contains all of the sound minus the voice tracks), and as compared to the past DVD releases, they actually contain some information about the show. Unfortunately the conversations with the creators and voice actors take place during a loud party, so they are a frustrating listen. The content of the discussions range from completely irrelevant to scene-specific for a few seconds at a time. A couple of the tracks are recorded in a more quiet setting, but they are no more focused than the others.

There are a few promos under the heading Funny Pete Stuff as well as a short produced for the 2004 San Diego Comic-Con. The entire Spacecataz saga is presented for those who never pay attention until the Aqua Teen theme song kicks in at the beginning of each episode. I have no idea if episodes past the ones on these DVDs actually finish off the Spacecataz story line, since I rarely get to watch the show when it airs on TV, but this feature gives you the whole thing. A live-action short performed by some of the Aqua Teen staff about the harmful effects of Raydon is actually quite entertaining. F-Art is a formidable photo slideshow of lots and lots of fan-created artwork relating to the show. This feature goes on for over 10 minutes, illustrating just how popular the show has become.

McDonald’s discovered they could further cut payroll costs by hiring

their own fries to make the burgers.

A videotaped featurette showing the recording process for the voice tracks of a single episode is included. It gives an interesting peek into the writing process, as the show’s creators, when not voicing their own characters, throw lines to the actor at random to see how they sound. Oh, and check out the Easter egg on Disc Two for a musical jam session with Aqua Teen’s brain trust. Finally, there is a short promo for the upcoming Aqua Teens movie. It is the teaser to end all teasers because it doesn’t really show anything. I’m really glad there are no storyboarded or half-animated clips in this set. Cartoon Network releases have pulled that crap once too often in the past to fill out the features list. It might be useful for animation students, but those scenes are thoroughly useless to the rest of us.

7.5 out of 10

The Artwork

That green outer sleeve is not easy to look at, but it has a cool cutout of Ignignokt’s pixilated face. The Mooninite-themed two-disc digipak inside the sleeve displays a veritable rainbow of colors and lots of low-res art clips. It’s not pretty, but it is eye-catching.

7.0 out of 10

Happy New Year.

Overall: 9.0 out of 10