Over the decades there have been numerous attempts to the next Monkees. How many pretenders have crashed and burned while mixing comedy and music? The network have tried dozens of times with existing acts and prefabricated bands. None have come close to standing on the summit with Davy, Mike, Peter and Micky. Think back to the lameness of the Jonas Brothers on Disney. The Bay City Rollers suffocated on Saturday mornings at the end of their plaid run. Even The New Monkees imploded into obscurity. But finally there’s a show that matches The Monkees. The Aquabats were a band that was a TV show before they turned the cameras on. The five members already dressed like superheros with masks, helmets and blue spandex outfits with “A”s on their chest. Each member has a superhero sounding name including The MC Bat Commander, Crash McLarson, Jimmy the Robot, Ricky Fitness and EagleBones FalconHawk. The Aquabats! Super Show!: Season One! has the quintet ready to save the world or at least children’s TV.
“ManAnt!” starts with the most evil plot ever devised. Someone is stealing all the hamburgers from fast food joints. Turns out Crash McLarson is responsible for the creation of the villain. He had the help of a genie played by Rip Taylor. “Mysterious Egg” has the gang hatching a egg. Can they deal with the creature growing inside? “Eagleclaw” brings in the evil and jealous brother of EagleBones (Napoleon Dynamite‘s Jon Heder). The episode is about the evils of going solo. “Laundry Day” gets the boys covered in goo. What they don’t count on is an evil woman running the dry cleaners. Can they get back their uniforms? “Ladyfingers” puts mummies on motorcycles. “Haunted Battletram” gets a ghost inside their mobile headquarters. Their huge van is a throwback to the classic Ark II minus the talking monkey.
“Cowboy Android” is a throwback to West World when an android sheriff takes over a theme park. “Uberchaun” is bigger and bluer than a leprechaun. The Aquabats must fight gophers at the golf course. “Pilgrim Boy” is a Thanksgiving special. Freaks and Geeks‘s Samm Levine can turn into anything, but isn’t liking how the Aquabats won’t take him serious. But his talent is needed to save the pineapple crop in Detroit. In a casting coup, Weird Al Yankovic plays the president of the United States. “Floating Eye of Death” is about the horrors of hitting a truck stop late at night. The musical number involves the Aquabats singing lines off various baseball caps. “Night of the Cactus” brings trouble to the desert when a meteorite hits the sand. Not only does it make cacti come alive, but mutates MC Bat Commander. Is there any hope? “Cobraman” proves some roadside attractions need to be passed on the highway. In this case the Aquabats have the Battletram swiped while they’re taking in the freakshow. “Showtime” has the band face their greatest foe: a surplus of merchandise. They need to boost their superhero image so they can sell off the t-shirts and novelties. Weird Al returns once more, but in a different role.
The Aquabats! Super Show!: Season One! is such escapist joy. While the show is supposedly aimed at little kids, it references so much of the Saturday morning and after school weirdness that dominated the ’70s. Jimmy The Robot has hands that work just like the mechanical dude in Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot. The monster effects have all the shaggy joy of The Land of the Lost. There’s monster fighting like Ultraman. They bring to the screen all the elements in Krofft and Filmation live action show. They are the new Monkees.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the flashy and bright costumes. The details in the monsters shimmer on the screen. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. The mix keeps the music and the fighting loud. You feel the bonks.
Audio Commentaries are provided for 5 of the episodes. The whole band contributes to the memories of their legendary gigs and battles.
The Original Pilot (20:12) has a whole different opening and adventure. You’ve seen clips from this episode in the openings of the other shows. There’s an audio commentary in which the guys mention this was made in 2008. They expose the truth about the refried beans being fired out of the monster tortilla.
Blooper Reel! (5:11) has the guys going nuts on the set. Best is the clapper running to do a tail slate.
Behind the Scenes (8:29) are joke moments from the set. There’s a threat of Ryan Gosling joining the band so they can dump a member.
The Aquabats! Super Show!: Season One! is brilliant madness for kids and extremely overgrown kids. A band made up of superheroes fighting monsters is what we need to combat those educational shows that bore parents to death. If your kid begs you for a copy of this DVD. Listen to them. They’re onto something cool.
Shout! Factory presents The Aquabats! Super Show!: Season One!. Starring: The MC Bat Commander, Crash McLarson, Jimmy the Robot, Ricky Fitness and EagleBones FalconHawk. Boxset contents: 13 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released: May 21, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.
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