Moral Orel: Volume 1: The Unholy Edition – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Created by
Dino Stamatopoulos

Cast:
Scott Adsit … Clay Puppington
Jay Johnston … Coach Stopframe
Carolyn Lawrence … Orel Puppington
Britta Phillips … Bloberta Puppington
Tigger Stamatopoulos … Shapey Puppington
William Salyers … Reverend Putty


The Show:

From the brilliance of The Venture Bros. to the complete insanity of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup has cornered the market on off-color, yet spirited animated series. While the lineup has started to really change in the last couple of years, with series such as Sealab 2021 and others ending their runs, it amazes me just how much Adult Swim is able to stay fresh with new series that are both well-written and more importantly, absolutely hilarious. While probably not loved by all, a prime example of this recent crop of new shows that is picking up the Adult Swim mantle is without a doubt Moral Orel.

Taking the guise of a religiously-themed stop-motion animated series – in the vein of the Davey and Goliath series from the 1960’s – the brainchild of Creator Dino Stamatopoulos is a biting satire on Red State fundamentalism, but one that manages to know when to pull its punches, showing an unexpected heart, instead of just constantly going for the throat. This isn’t to say that Moral Orel doesn’t occasionally step over the line into what could be perceived as bad taste, but it’s surprising just how often the show is really able to toe that line successfully.

The show revolves around Orel Puppington (Carolyn Lawrence), a small boy earnestly trying to follow God’s will and doing what he can to obey his parents wishes. Unfortunately, Orel follows these wishes so literally and faithfully that nearly all of his actions result in disaster. Now while this almost sitcom-like premise could probably turn old and repetitive rather quickly, at least during these initial 15 episodes, the series manages to stay strong and imaginative throughout.

Now any problems opponents of the show will have will probably stem from one of the three episodes that were even originally deemed inappropriate for air by Cartoon Network; a decision they would eventually relent on. These installments would include “Maturity Juice,” in which Orel starts to drink in order to feel more like an adult, “Loyalty,” where a new friend makes Orel beat up two young boys that may or may not be gay, and most especially “God’s Chef,” in which Orel is chastised for masturbating, because he is not using his sperm for procreation. This gives him the idea to just start artificially inseminating all the women of his neighborhood instead so he can stay right with God and still do “number 3.” If any of these don’t sound like your cup of tea, then the show isn’t really for you.

On the other hand, someone that enjoys Orel’s insane track of logic will find nothing but belly laughs in installments such as “The Lord’s Greatest Gift,” where Orel takes offense at the dead for taking for granted the life which God gave them. Orel’s solution is to start raising zombies from the grave. “God’s Image” is a hysterical look at segregation and racism, when Orel notices a local family doesn’t look quite like the rest of town and therefore must not be made in God’s image. Showing the ignorance of the rest of the town, the episode packs more jokes in its twelve minutes than many other shows can do in twice the time.

Other standout episodes include “Satan” in which unrequited love drives one man to a group of Satanists hungry for junk food and “Love” in which a dog becomes a very Christ-like figure. What’s incredible about both these episodes is that while they’re both very funny, they’ve each got a weird dramatic undercurrent that actually manages to be successful as well. One sequence in “Satan” is almost unbelievably touching, though the series’ sick humor gets to have the last laugh.

Moral Orel is just another success in a long line for to Carton Network’s late night programming. With any luck, the show will continue to grow and be able to build upon this first season to even greater highs in its second year. Much like Venture Bros. and Sealab 2021, Orel has come right out of the gate in its first outing, but we’ll have to see whether it can repeat the success in the way those shows did. On its own though Moral Orel: Volume 1: The Unholy Edition is a great purchase for the Adult Swim crowd.


The DVD:

The Video
As with all Adult Swim titles, Moral Orel looks fantastic on DVD. This print is nearly flawless and has a completely clear picture. The show is presented in full screen with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

The Audio
The Audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is also mighty nice. You get a few soundtrack songs throughout the episode, including IO Perry’s “Saturday,” which is a song I’m completely in love with at the moment, and it comes in fantastic.


SPECIAL FEATURES:

The Awkward Comic Con-Panel – This is a panel that took place at the San Diego Comic Con. Featuring creators some several of the Adult Swim shows, the panel kind of gets testy as it looks as if some of the creators just don’t get along very well. Also Dino Stamatopoulos manages to get completely wasted on stage, which then leads him to start yelling obscenities. Adding to the strangeness of this features are a couple of commentaries, one of which comes from Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick, the creators of Venture Bros.. They pretty much spend the whole track just making fun of everyone and pointing out how awkward they look in the footage.

Behind the Scenes – This featurette isn’t terribly long, but is a good look at the history and production of the show, from its origins as a show about Iggy Pop to showing Dino Stamatopoulos’ daughter, who plays Orel’s brother Shapey, and comes up with all his dialogue.

Episode Commentaries – Several of the episodes have commentaries, each of which are very crowded with creators, actors and animators. For the first couple commentaries everyone even takes time to introduce themselves, which is a ridiculous thing to do considering the episodes are only 12 minutes long. There’s a funny bit in “God’s Chef” in which Carolyn Lawrence, who voices Orel, had to take tips from the other men working on the show, because she didn’t know what a man would sound like as he masturbates. She apparently got a lot of help with the problem.

Promos/Bumps

Original Opening

Odds and Ends

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for
Moral Orel: Volume 1: The Unholy Edition
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

8
THE VIDEO

8.5
THE AUDIO

9
THE EXTRAS

7.5
REPLAY VALUE

8
OVERALL
8
(NOT AN AVERAGE)