This past year (2010 – seems like it was only a week ago!), Cartoon Network has expanded it’s Adult Swim program block an extra hour so that it now starts at 9PM (EST). Prior to this move, CN has altered it’s Monday night comedy block to feature animated shows which are only 15 minutes in length, which is actually only about 10 or 11 minutes without commercials. Among thse shows is a sketch comedy series based on MAD Magazine, simply titled MAD (which is more or less a G-rated version of AS’s Robot Chicken). However, for reasons which I will go into later, The 2 main new shows which follow in this vein are the ones that we’ll be focusing on here: Regular Show and Robotomy.
IMHO, Regular Show is the better of the 2 (in fact, I’d go so far to say that RS is Cartoon Network’s best new series of 2010. I like RS even better than Genndy Tartakofsky’s Sym-Biotic Titan. Yeah, I said that.), although Robotomy has it’s moments.
Regular Show, whose title is meant to be sarcastic, centers on a pair of 23-year-old slackers who work at a public park and also live on the premises, Mordecai (voiced by series creator J.G. Quintel) and Rigby, who also happen to be a 6-foot-tall blue jay and a raccoon. Mordecai is the more laid back and (only slightly) more responsible of the 2, while Rigby is excitable, impulsive and all about instant gratification (Rigby, in fact, reminds me a little of Max from Sam & Max). The park’s supervisor is a cranky, living gumball machine named Benson, who frequently chastises the dudes for being the lazy slackers that they are. The park’s owner is an incredibly naive and old-world lollipop man called Pops. Pops is the boss of all the main characters but he’s so incredibly clueless that he’s totally dependent on Benson to run things at the park. Pops likes Mordecai and Rigby, which is the only reason why Benson hasn’t fired them yet. Other park employees at the park include it’s groundskeeper, a yeti names Skips (voiced by Mark Hammil), so named because he always skips around rather than walking or running, who usually looks angry but is usually the one who helps out Rigby and Mordecai when they mess things up. A stupid, pale-green abnormally strong goon named Muscle Man, who falls very firmly into the modern day “bro” archetype, and his buddy High-Five Ghost, a Pac Man lookalike ghost with a single hand protruding from his head complete the main cast. In every episode, a regular mundane activity evolved into a world threatening crisis involving such elements as time travel, gods and floating demon heads. RS is a basically Clerks meets Megas XLR with some traces of Rocko’s Modern Life thrown in for good measure.
Robotomy, meanwhile, takes place on a strange planet known as Insanus in which it’s main inhabitants are violent killer robots whose sole purpose for existing is to break, kill and maim each other for no apparent reason. It’s main characters are a pair of high school student robots named Thrasher (voiced by Patton Oswalt) and Blastus (voiced by Fat Guy Stuck in Intenet’s John Gemberling), who are the misfits of their society because they harbor feelings of warmth and compassion.
What’s even more interesting than the shows themselves is the content of the shows. On Regular Show, for example, the characters are allowed to use words such as “crap”, “pissed”, and “hell”. One episode of Robotomy features an allusion to masturbation. The content isn’t anything really over-the-top, but it’s more daring than anything that’s aired on CN to date. While, MAD is decidedly and consciously aimed at kids, largely because of restrictions imposed by the network over what can and can’t be parodied on the show, RS and R seem more like they were originally intended to air on Adult Swim, but were inexplicably sent to CN for some unknown reason, and it’s almost a shame that R and RS aren’t given a run on AS, as both shows would fit in with AS rather well and both would be a welcome change of pace from the endless stream of Family Guy and Robot Chicken reruns. Don’t get me wrong. I still watch and enjoy Robot Chicken; the sketches aren’t all winners, but it’s good when it has a good concept, but AS has been running RC at 12 for what seems like an eternity now. I’d settle for Willams Street realizing that “adult” isn’t synonymous with “crude, sexist, frat boy/stoner humor”.