InsidePulse DVD Review – Sealab 2021 – Season 3


Created by
Adam Reed
Matt Thompson

Harry Goz …. Captain Hazel ‘Hank’ Murphy (2000-2003) (voice)
Erik Estrada …. Marco Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar Diego Garcia Marquez (voice)
Bill Lobley …. Jodene Sparks/Various (voice)
Brett Butler …. Dr. Quentin Q. Quinn (voice)
Kate Miller …. Debbie DuPree (voice)
Ellis Henican …. Derek ‘Stormy’ Waters (voice)
Chris Ward …. Hesh Hipplewhite/Various (voice)
Michael Goz …. Captain Bellerophon ‘Tornado’ Shanks (2004-2005) (voice)
Angela Gibbs …. Debbie ‘Black Debbie’ Love (2004-2005) (voice)

The Show

Cartoon Network is arguably the most consistently entertaining network on television. Where other cable channels sink further into the muck of mediocrity, Cartoon Network has moved from just being “the channel that shows 24 hours of Scooby Doo reruns” to one that has really entertaining original programming. From Justice League to Samurai Jack, the cable channel has given its audience shows to really care about and follow.

Arguably the best thing about the network at the moment is their Adult Swim Series. Some may have been skeptical of Cartoon Network’s late night programming format geared toward adults, but some of the funniest animated shows in years have been produced, including Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, and The Venture Brothers. One of the funniest shows on the network has been Sealab 2021.

In 1972, the show Sealab 2020 was an adventure show about underwater exploration. The show was kind of a melding of Star Trek and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, but kind of boring. This made the show a prime target for lampooning. Enter Cartoon Network’s Sealab 2021, a show less about exploration and more about general tomfoolery. The first two seasons of the series featured brilliant irreverent comedy with great episodes such as I, Robot and Bizarro.

Fans of the series got bad news at the end of the second season as the passing of series favorite Harry Goz due to cancer. Goz portrayed Sealab’s Captain Murphy and was undoubtedly the funniest character on the show. Murphy stole nearly every episode he was in and Goz gave the character a deadpan humor that just couldn’t be replaced. Goz apparently was such a consummate professional that he acted on the show until the time of his death, even though he was completely aware his condition his entire run on the series.

Knowing this going, it was a tremendous surprise to find that Captain Murphy was in the first four episodes of this third season. These episodes also represent the best episodes of this season, though the series does what it can to be entertaining the remaining nine installments. Three of the four Captain Murphy episodes also are some of the best of the entire series. Also returning is the rest of the cast as Stormy, Quinn, the two Debbies, Sparks, Marco, and Hesh.

The first episode of the season is hilarious as Captain Murphy takes out a loan for a commercial that shows Sealab as a great vacation spot. This episode is a great example of the series use of homage and spoofs as Sealab is virtually turned into The Love Boat for an episode. The show is highlighted by a very Harry Knowles looking tourist that is constantly asking to eat or take other people’s food.

The next episode may be the funniest of the season as Murphy declares Sealab a communist state. Sealab is transformed into a haven for the proletariat, complete with Murphy and Lenin-esque beard. All of Sealab is decorated in its own awesome looking propaganda as Murf constantly throws new rallies and commissions new artwork. Lastly he commissions Dr. Quinn to make an atomic bomb so the United States will listen to his ridiculous demands. The episode ends with a really funny homage to Dr. Strangelove

The best thing about the set may be that Murphy gets a great send off in his last episode. In the first season episode I, Robot the entire crew discuss the possibilities of possessing robot bodies to the point that they neglect the station and it explodes. In this follow-up episode entitled, I, Robot, Really Murf has his dream of having a robot body comes true. He is transformed into an Adrienne Barbeau-bot with his “Jugs of Justice” and chainsaw hands. The episode is last of the season that could stand with any of the first two seasons and watching it is actually kind of sad as its Harry Goz’s swan song.

The rest of the episodes are not nearly as funny, but they still has some of the old Sealab charm. In Frozen Dinner, the crew makes a rescue mission to survivors that just plan on eating them when they arrive. With Tornado Shanks, the show’s newest member, Coach Shanks, debuts. While this episode, a weird parody of The Longest Yard, is pretty funny, the character pales in comparison to Captain Murphy. The character’s highlight of the season comes in an episode entitled Craptastic Voyage, in which he has a cancerous tumor on his forehead. To save him, the rest of the shrink themselves and get injected into his body, where they have to fight off tape worms and white blood cells in Star Wars style combat.

Sealab 2021 Season 3 is definitely a step down from the first two years of the show, but there are quite a few bright spots. Those looking to be entertained for a few hours and already love Adult Swim will find this DVD an easy couple of hours to get through. Hopefully, the show will be able to really rebound and come into its own again in the next season. If not, there’s still Aqua Teen hunger Force and Venture Brothers.

Score: 7.0/10

The DVD:

The Video

The transfer for this DVD looks fine. There’s seems to be no degradation from the show’s original broadcast. The DVD is presented in a 4:3 Fullscreen, which is the original format it was in.

Score: 9.0/10

The Audio

The audio for the show is just as nice. The English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround is probably a step up from when you stayed up late to watch these episodes the first time around.

Score: 8.5/10

SPECIAL FEATURES: 2 Never before seen episodes, Dearly Beloved, Quinmas, The Gert Pilot, Kitty Fun-Fun, Stormy Waters, Pundit, Show Commentaries.

Dearly Beloved: The first of these “unseen” episodes isn’t very funny. It shows the love blossoming between Debbie DuPree (“white” Debbie) and Hesh. This was to be shown with another episode that actually appeared in the season (Dearly Beloved Seed ), but there are several continuity errors. That shouldn’t make much of a difference in a show like this, but still it’s just not very funny to boot.

Quinmas : This second “unseen episode is worse because it’s not finished. The story is supposed to resemble A Christmas Carol, which the writers states they have never read. The episode involves Dr. Quinn seeing three ghosts because he’s a drunkard. The voices are in place, but the episode is actually closer to storyboards than an actual installment. It seems like it would have been really funny, but as is its just kind of annoying.

The Gert Pilot This is the original pilot that remained “unpitched” to the studio as the creators designed a better pilot to show Cartoon Network Execs. The pilot is just an original episode of Sealab 2020 with goofy voices over the animation. Its kind of funny, but not really.

Kitty Fun-Fun: Seemingly this is just a series of shorts where a weird puppet talks to drunk people. If that appeals to you, then this will be hilarious. Otherwise, you may not like it so much.

Stormy Waters, Pundit: The absolute best feature on this DVD. The joke here is that Stormy is normally a moron. Here Stormy is speaking about topical issues, such as whether Democrats are still relevant. He’s speaking about each subject quite distinctly, but at the same time he is doing so in odd places (on top of a mountain, in his bathtub), and there are usually odd hijinx going on in the background.

Show Commentaries: There are commentaries on a few episodes, but they range in quality as some are done by the writers of the show and some are just off the wall. On the Red Dawn, there is supposedly a Slovakian writer doing commentary. It’s just really odd more than funny.

Score: 6.0/10