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Aqua Teen Hunger Force has just about officially become Adult Swim’s closest equivalent to The Simpsons. Normally a seven season, hundred episode run wouldn’t be comparable to a twenty one season, 464 episode run, but by Adult Swim standards the numbers pretty much add up. Both shows have been on long enough their longevities are as inevitable as the morning sunrise. Both shows also spawned theatrical film releases, which most fans agreed were average at best. Neither series has devolved into utter worthlessness, but no one involved is working to the standards of the best episodes, and sadly, no one watching is expecting anything more. Fans now watch ATHF and The Simpsons out of habit, and we celebrate minor flashes of brilliance a little too heartily. This seventh ‘collection’ release of ATHF (which features a rather paltry 11 episodes) starts with the fifth season six episode, and includes four season seven episodes, though release order doesn’t appear to have been an important issue.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 7
Creature From Plaque Lagoon (episode number 83) is a semi-sequel to Dickesode. Dr. Wongburger, whose original plan involved collecting penises to create a spaceship, has moved on to teeth. The Aqua Teens stumble on this information while trying to capture the Tooth Fairy. This relatively laugh-free episode recycles too many classic ATHF elements, and features guest voice work from Metalocalypse director Jon Schnepp.

Time Machine (episode number 84), which sees Frylock creating a time machine that doesn’t actually go forward in time, but warps to Carl’s house, is actually pretty funny, though for many of the same reasons other episodes do not work – familiarity. There are dozens of episodes featuring Shake taking advantage of Flylock’s inventions, but for some reason the formula continues to work.

2-and-a-Half Star Wars out of 5 (episode 85) is the series’ first excessively Star Wars-themed episode. The image of a naked Wookie, complete with nipples is funny, as is the ‘Drewbacca’ character on the whole, but the episode is only particularly memorable for its music, which perfectly apes the constant, cheerful chatter of John Williams’ score.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 7
Fry Legs (episode 86) is one in the series more successful run of ‘scorched-earth’ Frylock episodes, that remind us the series’ ‘hero’ can be just as dark as the other characters. There aren’t many hearty laughs in watching Frylock stalk a random IT woman after building himself a set of ‘working’ arms and legs, but Fry Legs is one of the collections more memorable episodes.

Der Inflatable Fuhrer (episode 87) is probably my favourite in the collection for it’s utter strangeness. Frylock is hired by a shadowy, balloon-shaped man with a German accent to synthesize a killer virus. Turns out the man is Hitler, who became a balloon at the end of WWII. Shake and Meatwad provide some healthy supporting cast laughs as well. This is the closest the creators have gotten to the brilliant stupidity of the show’s second and third seasons.

The Last One Forever and Ever (episode 88), which features a whole bunch of live-action, skit-like stuff, was apparently popular among fans, but I found it dreadfully unfunny. Perhaps it’s my aversion to stuff like Tim and Eric Awesome Show, but poking fun at laziness doesn’t really make laziness any better. Even the presence of H. Jon Benjamin ( Home Movies, Venture Bros, Archer) didn’t make the episode any more tolerable.

Rubberman (episode 91) is a relatively forgettable episode, in which Frylock creates a duck out of used condoms and needles. There are a few grotesquely amusing moments, and Meatwad-centric episodes are few and far between on this collection, but I’m struggling to find anymore compliments.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 7
Multiple Meats (episode 97) is another personal favourite. Shake cuts Meatwad into two pieces, and each piece becomes self aware. Soon the house is filled with dozens of tiny Meatwads, playing poker, and practicing democracy. This episode mixes sweet and cute, with gross and wrong just like the best Meatwad centric episodes should.

Monster (episode 93) is well placed on the collection in that it’s another episode that features Meatwad in the lead. Once again Shake and Frylock take the opposite course of action when Meatwad develops a problem, this time a fear of a monster in his closet. Once again, Meatwad’s fears are confirmed. Carl scores some laughs in this one, but otherwise it’s a pretty routine seventh season episode.

Rabbot Redux (episode 90) picks up where The Last One Forever and Ever left off. The Aqua Teens move into a new house on the other side of Carl’s property, and events play out as a sort of mirror image of the pilot episode. This in-joke heavy episode is pretty funny, and would’ve actually been a decent place to leave the series (though so would the movie).

Eggball (episode 92) finishes things off with the story of Shake’s journey to Death Island, where he looks for replacement steel balls for his personally modeled pinball machine. The ball laying birds are very funny, but the episode appears to have stolen its surprise climax from an episode of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 7

Video


I’m continuously confused as to why Adult Swim doesn’t release more of their shows on Blu-ray, as many have been readjusted for HD television. Obviously The Venture Bros is more theatrical, and I’m thankful for the Blu-ray release of season three, but I assume that Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s fan base is big and loyal enough to buy HD releases, and think the studio is losing some cash on the detail. This anamorphic DVD release is far from an underachievement in terms of video quality, however, and my Blu-ray player’s up-conversion takes the image quality pretty close to the HD television broadcasts. The show’s style, a mix of monochromatic pieces of character animation and close to realistic background elements, which is purposefully flat in terms of image depth, lends itself pretty well to 480p’s image compression. The colours are very vibrant, the black outlines are sharp, and the background details are more easily discernable than previous season releases. Compression artefacts include some edge-enhancement, some general noise in the busiest details, and minor pixilation, especially during movement. I’m actually more concerned with the 16x9 framing, which the show’s producers and animators never seem to get the hang of. Head room, or more appropriately fry and straw room, is always a little too tight for comfort.

Audio


I’ve done it before, but watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound is always a strange experience. This collection is a little more sonically effective than the older releases, but the rear channels are still mostly left out of the equation. The majority of noise comes from the either the center channel, which features most of the effects and dialogue, and the stereos, which feature the bulk of the music. The usual effects, like the sounds of Shake’s straw in particular, are a bit louder here than previous releases, and the overall compositions are more active. There is some directional movement across the front, and some echo runoff in the rears, but I’m more impressed with the punchy LFE presence, which adds quite a bit to the music and all too consistent explosions. The music is the aural front-runner, and includes a plethora of styles to work out the stereo channels.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 7

Extras


The extras begin with ‘Live Action Behind the Scenes, 12 Minutes That Changed Television for 12 Minutes’, a look at the making of The Last One Forever and Ever (18:30), which features interviews with the cast and crew, along with footage from the set building and production design, and some general, fly-on-the wall footage of acting and directing. The series creators compare the episode to a David Lynch movie, which is actually pretty accurate. Executive producer Mike Lazzo’s reaction is also appropriate (he hates it). ‘Rubberman Behind the Scenes: Your Mom and Uncle Sing about Condoms’ (3:30) is an amusing look at the recording of the ‘Lance the Duck’ theme song, which is appropriately gross, and sung by real professional, middle-aged musicians. ‘Dumb Down Your Smart Phone’ is a collection of ringtone samples from Carl and Meatwad. ‘Terror Phone II: The Legend of Rakenstein’ (15:37) is a mega-meta live-action short film featuring some of the show’s voice actors, presented in some pretty aggressive 5.1 surround. Things end with ‘Live Action Carl: The Dave Long Story: Shave Your Head, Grow a Mustache and Gain 80lbs for a Shot at Fame’ (11:20), a collection of auditions for the Last One Forever and Ever episode.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 7

Overall


Aqua Teen Hunger Force seems to have bottomed out over the years, but the bottom has proven more entertaining than expected. This seventh collection of episodes is spotty, but I can’t imagine the show’s fans having any major problems, even with the live action episode, which I hated. Adult Swim is missing out on some extra cash by not releasing this set, which was aired in HD, on Blu-ray disc, but I also don’t have many real complaints with the image quality of this standard definition collection. Extras are decent, especially since the shows creators are paying major lip service to their fans, but there’s nothing in the special features section you absolutely need to watch.


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