Sunday, May 31, 2015


It's anything but.

And they said they don't make good cartoons anymore...

Name: Regular Show: The Complete First and Second Seasons (originally titled Normal Show)
Created by JG Quintel 
Original run 2010-2011
Genre Slacker comedy animated series

When people think about the golden age of Cartoon Network, they think about a time the channel was pumping out several modern classics one after the other. You might remember the likes of the Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory or Johnny Bravo.

But despite a rough patch in the mid-2000s where the channel almost turned into a MTV light, what with the production of several "kids" live action sitcoms, they seem to be in a much better place nowadays.

If we have really well-received new popular shows again like Steven Universe or Clarence now (and by a sort of "ripple effect", stuff like Gravity Falls and Star Vs. The Forces of Evil on Disney), it's all thanks to the success of Pendleton Ward's Adventure Time for paving the way.

And if anything else, for a little odd show created by cartoonist JG Quintel for reiterating said success and proving the formula.

Regular Show was the second new show launched to establish this rebirth of Cartoon Network. It was actually based on a couple of ideas JG Quintel had played with in a few college animations way back when. The original shorts were one about a couple of slackers at work trying some LSD and hallucinating one being a huge bluejay bird and the other a gumball machine, the other was about this weird odd man "from the Moon" with a huge head trying to pay in a restaurant with a few lollipops and then running off.

The show... wouldn't be that far off, all things considered. Since it's a Cartoon Network show, the whole weed-part would be nowhere to be seen of course (but part of me thinks it might explain a few storylines... hmmm..). This is very much a All-Age PG show. But it still aimed at both children and the older crowd alike, just like classic cartoons used to. Having grown up in the 1980s, Quintel's show seems like a love tribute to all-things 80s, it's full of nostalgia and references of that era.

The series was launched in September 2010 and it has been going on strong ever since for the past six seasons and 187 episodes so far.

This above here is "The Complete First and Second Seasons", which has the title implies collects the first two years of the show, including a few bonus features (more on that below).

Regular Show follows the adventures of these two 20-something best friends. They work as groundskeepers in the city's public park. It's all pretty "Regular" so far.

But like the tagline of the show says, it's anything but. One's a giant bluejay, Mordecai, the other's a raccoon called Rigby. They work for this gumball machine-guy named Benson, who was hired himself by this older gentleman with a giant head named Pops. There's also those other two employees called Muscle Man and Hi-Five Ghost, a chubby green dude and literally a ghost with a hi-five for a head, respectively. Finally there's this older yeti that leaves in the house and is the local handyman always ready to help, the mysterious Skips, who's always skipping when he walks around.

Our two slacker-protagonists always end up getting the entire world in jeopardy, by accident. The regular basic formula for most episodes starts pretty normal. They try to avoid work/play video games and end up getting into trouble. Then all hell breaks loose and they have to put a stop to some evil entity/get things back to normal, often by being the idiots they are.

Things get surreal pretty fast and then the colors turn to a saturated red-ysh tone, the sky-background seen in the title card pops up in the background. It always goes off-rails into some extreme supernatural conclusion in the final act.

But don't let this fool you, despite all this it doesn't feel that repetitive since it never truly revolves around the narrative. The characters are always the heart of each episode.

For example, in the original pilot of the show (included in this DVD set), our heroes start off the day by simply fighting over eating cereals, then they try to get Pop's old chair before Benson throws it in the garbage. They play a game of Rock-paper-scissors, but it's a draw. After running into very unlikely 100 ties, this opens a rift into another dimension and this creature challenges them - all this one their very first day at work!

J.G. Quintel used to work as creative director on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, which actually explains quite a lot.

He attended college at the California Institute of the Arts with Thurop Van Orman and Pendleton Ward, who both went on to work for Cartoon Network Studios. Where he created those college animations I mentioned above.

The first one "2 in the AM PM" saw the introduction of Mordecai and Benson freaking out (as two normal human characters originally). The second one was titled "The Naive Man From Lolliland" and revolved around Pops. They were definitively not really meant for kids at first!

The show was originally set to be titled Normal Show at first. He originally pitched the series to Cartoon Network's Cartoonstitute project headed by Powerpuff Girls creator Craig McCracken and My Life as a Teenage Robot's Rob Renzetti back in 2010. Which only lasted for 39 short projects (and only 15 of those would result in completion, with only 5 of those making it into actual shows - the other main select short "Uncle Grandpa" would only be made into a show as well in 2013).

The show features a pretty impressive voice cast. Despite being usually solely used for guest appearances on so many other cartoons, Regular Show was actually able to score veteran voice actor (and Luke Skywalker!) Mark Hamill as part of the main regular cast (pun intended to be honest), he portrays Skips. JG Quintel himself ended up playing our main character Mordecai, since he's mostly based on his own school days, giving the character a very distinct unique voice. William Salyers plays the voice of Rigby. A college friend of Quintel, Sam Marin plays a lot main characters such as Benson, Pops and Muscle Man. There's also  Janie Haddad Tompkins, Roger Craig Smith (who would go on to play Thomas) playing all kinds of background voices on the show over years as well as several well known guest stars like Steven Blum, Courtenay Taylor, Jeff Bennett, Jennifer Hale and even a favorite of mine, Linda Cardellini as part of the main cast much later on.

Regular Show is highly inspired by pop culture and video games Quintel used to play.

He draws a lot from indie comics, matching the art style of the show and the watercolor-styled backgrounds to those.

The animation is made handdrawn. Most of the work being done at Cartoon Network Studios in Burbank, California. While most modern cartoons have gone full digital by now or employ hybrid methods on Cintiq, Regular Show is still kept animated traditionally by hand. Quintel always felt more comfortable on paper, it gives the show a more organic approach by forcing the work on simpler tools.

Growing up with the likes of The Simpsons and Beavis and Butt-head, the show is inspired by these type of more adult animated series as basis. There's a lot of elements from stuff he liked as a kid in the series, such as Sega's ToeJam & Earl, TV series like The Office, The IT Crowd, etc. A blend of the tone of those shows and that kind of humor as well.

Quintel wanted the characters to sound relatable, the way a couple of friends would talk. Never taking themselves too seriously. The dialog feels natural, conversational, and not too "cartoony".

The first season of the show ran from September to November 2010 for 12 episodes, while the second season ran for 28 episodes without a break from November 2010 to August 2011. Since then all seasons have lasted for 40 episodes. The 11-minute format of the episodes always (or often) ends up abruptly, much like Adventure Time.

Season 1 opens with Mordecai and Rigby finding a magic keyboard from a wizard that makes everything they sing come true which accidentally sends Skips on the Moon. After that we get to see them "working" at the Park, setting up a birthday party and instead summoning this old video game boss unleashed on the park, Rigby always losing at punchies so he tries to learn a new move to finally get back at Mordecai, organizing a surprise birthday party for Skips and learning a truth about him, getting trapped inside the meat locker, Mordecai trying to get the attention of this girl Margaret who works at the nearby coffee place, our duo getting into trouble after making pranks, the arrival of Rigby's younger brother Don, and finally Rigby's consciousness getting thrown outside his body due to eating too much junk food. There's also the famous first season finale "Mordecai and the Rigbys" where the duo want to enter a music contest despite not knowing how to play music, but they get some help from there future-selves, form a band and sing "Party Tonight". The song would get such a huge popularity on social media websites and CN's facebook page the song would be turned into a live-action music video. That video would be used as an ad for the show and can also be found on the DVD here.

The second season begins with the guest appearance of comedian Paul F. Tompkins. After that Mordecai gets jealous of Rigby going on a date with Margaret, Benson putting the entire park on surveillance to keep our heroes from slacking off, Pops doing a speech for a new park statue, Mordecai and Rigby getting annoyed at Muscle Man's frequent "My Mom" jokes, trying to beat the high score in an arcade game, trying to replace the TV to beat a boss in a game, throwing a party with the help of Party Pete, Benson demoted, trying to get a refund for a game, Rigby getting a song "Summertime Lovin'" stuck in his head, Mordecai dating this "Muscle Woman", Muscle Man's girlfriend Starla, only to dump her so she returns with Muscle Man, the arrival of a new temp, planning a surprise birthday party for Muscle Man, Mordecai trying to get Rigby to date this girl Eileen so he can double date with Margaret, going to a movie night to watch this Evil Dead/Army of Darkness spoof only to wake the dead in this nearby cemetery, going to a wrestling show, Rigby having to face Death himself in an arm wrestling match to save Skips (guest-voiced by Julian Holloway), entering a competition to win a car, meeting a bunch of baby ducks, Rigby getting too smart for his own good, making a viral video (which completely destroyed the "it takes place in the 80s-theory a lot of fans had) and finally an epic karaoke-related episode featuring none other than "Footloose's" theme song. The original pilot episode showing their "First Day" on the job also aired again during this second season.

There's a few bonus features in this complete season collection. The DVD set contains a commentary for all the episodes of both seasons (!!). The DVDs also feature a few animatics and CG test. The original 2010 Comic Con teaser, the "Party Tonight" music video, an Interview with JG Quintel, Quintel showing us how he pitches episodes, the original Regular Show commercials, but only "The Naïve Man from Lolliland" student short (not the LSD one..).

Regular Show is a lot of fun.

The show is very creative and truly unique. There's a lot of attention and little details put here and there. Lots of fun recurring minor characters. Episodes are often bizarre. Great dialogues. Despite how odd the character designs might look like, it ended up really working in the show's favor. If anything it makes the format look that much closer to original Looney Tunes shorts rather than other Cartoon Network cartoons (which always seemed closer in nature to Hanna-Barbera productions actually).

The stories are simple enough, our two slackers end up messing up things, almost causing the destruction of the entire world! It's comedy based around the characters directly, with great offbeat humor. Such a fun creative show, with a goofy sweet nature, it's very charming.

It's a great animated comedy in a style that seems to blend what you would expect from an [adult swim] production aimed at a slightly older audience but done in the style of more classic Cartoon Network shows. There's a lot of pop culture elements, due to the love the creators involved have for the eighties. Going to the arcades (are there any arcades anymore?) and the use of cartridge-based video game consoles (a Master System to be precise). It easily caters to fans of animation, children and the older crowd as well.

Despite the PG-rating, it's actually just as much for adults. Kids will love how the heroes get into all these sort of disastrous situations and get out of these consequences, most times they're just trying to avoid work, eating snack food or trying to cut work to play video games. The surreal comedy is also great. The show is just pretty good, there's a lot talent involved on Regular Show. And at times it simply feels like something you'd expect to see on [adult swim], with jokes for a slightly more adult audience. At the beginning of the show there were a lot of double entendres and the use of mild language compared to later seasons. In fact, the network wanted to move it to [adult swim]'s line-up but JG Quintel instead opted to work with these restrictions.

Regular Show has since become a huge success, with millions of faithful viewers tuning in each week. The show was even nominated for several awards, with the episode "Eggscellent" even getting a Primetime Emmy Awards for it.

Since JG Quintel pulled a lot of talent from the indie scene for his writing and artistic team, he wanted the same quality for the sound. The composer of the series is Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo. A new wave composer he wanted on board for at least the pilot of the series. He plays with a lot of 80s element for most of the show, it particularly shows during montage scenes. The show was also able to use a few licensed songs, mostly from the 1980s as well. They even produced several original songs, as usual on Cartoon Network series, written by the staff.

Overall, Regular Show has great humor, it's a really funny series. It easily appeals to both children and adults.

An Highly Recommended enjoyable series. The designs might look a bit simplistic on a first look, but once you get into it they're really fun and I wouldn't imagine those any other way. The dialogs feel so natural and each character has its own personality. Despite how weird things can get it always feels very grounded. It's very much "dialog driven". The cast is also very male-centric early on, it's a "dude" series, thankfully Eileen would join the cast on a much more regular basis later on with the addition of CJ, a cool laid back "Freaks & Geeks"-like gal, exactly what the show needed in my eyes.

The humor steers sometimes into a more adult path, but it's definitively suitable for children and always fun. A few lines even got cut and censored (a "pissed me off" was changed into "ticked me off"). The look of the show is simple and natural, it has a sort of 1990s nature (think Daria or Beavis and Butthead) with great absurd humor. Rooted in 80s culture.

As for the DVDs themselves, they're loaded with commentary tracks for every episode, which was a really nice plus. Giving us a few look into the behind the scenes at least. Starting Season 3 Regular Show would introduce "Terror Tales of the Park", fun Halloween special anthology episodes composed of horror-themed short stories told by the characters each Halloween season. Also noted above the addition of CJ and another controversial park employee character, named Thomas.

Thanks to the huge success of its equally successful "sister show" Adventure Time, CN would push Regular Show on the same block and offer it the same marketing opportunities. It might not have a same success on the same scale, worldwide, but it would be hard to attain that same brand recognition so easily. The show's been derived into all kinds of merchandising products and whatnot. Getting its own comic book adaptation line through KaBOOM!, the comic's written by KC Green and has been published since January 2013.

There's also been several smartphone games. A licensed game made by Hey Ice King! Why'd you steal our garbage?!!-developers WayForward Technologies and published by D3 Publisher for Nintendo 3DS was released in October 2013. A love letter to old school 2D 8-bit/16-bit era sidescrollers.

More recently, Cartoon Network just announced a Regular Show movie, the Regular Show: The Movie (come on guys, why didn't they call it "Regular Movie"? such a missed opportunity..), which will apparently revolve around a "Timenado" caused by our heroes, scheduled for 2016.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Felixes!

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