Regular Show Seasons 1 and 2 (US - BD RA)
Gabe watches the most definitively regular television show ever made...
Two slacker best friends, a blue jay named Mordecai (J.G. Quintel) and a raccoon named Rigby (William Salyers), work as groundskeepers at an unassuming city park and live on the park grounds. They suffer from short attention spans and lack work ethic, much to the chagrin of their boss, a living gumball machine named Benson (Sam Marin) that turns red with rage when he barks orders at them. Their co-workers and sometimes friends include an apparently immortal Yeti named Skips (Mark Hamill), a sweet-natured living lollipop named Pops (also Marin), a green, square-headed redneck (possibly Frankenstein Monster?) nicknamed Muscle Man (also Marin), and Muscle Man’s best friend – a ghost with a single hand on the top of his head named Hi-Five Ghost (Jeff Bennett/Quintel).
Because I find it difficult to talk about Regular Show without talking about Adventure Time and all the things that led to the popularity of both shows, I’m going to call this review a companion piece to the Adventure Time seasons one and two review I wrote last month. Here’s a link for you, assuming you haven’t read it and would prefer a more in-depth discussion.
Pendleton Ward’s Adventure Time and J.G. Quintel’s Regular Show premiered about five months apart and Cartoon Network often airs new episodes directly in a row. Ward and Quintel, who worked together on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, also developed the shows practically in tandem. For most intents and purposes, they are companion pieces and work really well when watched together. Ward and Quintel draw upon similar influences, take a similar route in terms of finding balance between child-friendly and adult-friendly tones – they appeal to a child’s appreciation of erratic comedy and an adult’s appreciation for referential humour. Both shows also feature extensive voice work from Mark Hamill (though he shows up with more regularity (ahem) on Regular Show). The difference between them is that Adventure Time really is made to appeal to everyone by not being aimed too squarely at anyone in particular, whereas Regular Show, though still plenty child-friendly (it is rated TV-PG – the only regular Cartoon Network series to carry the rating), is aimed most directly at an audience (of mostly men) that grew up in the 1980s. The rest of you are invited to laugh at its delightfully unpredictable weirdness, but you probably aren’t going to get all of the unbelievably specific references to period entertainment and technology. Like so many Adult Swim programs, I’m surprised that Regular Show’s oddly precise satire and spoof appeals to more than a fringe minority. I suppose there’s no reason to question success when I land directly in the show’s limited ‘intended’ fanbase.
The comedy is sometimes too Beavis and Butthead-meets- Jackass for my taste, but Quintel and his writers have fashioned a fine formula to work from. Unlike Adventure Time and Flapjack, which both appear to take place in a candy-centric post-apocalyptic environment, or Chowder, where the entire ecosystem revolves around magical talking foodstuffs, Regular Show takes place in an approximation of the real world. The characters are anthropomorphized animals, gumball machines, and lollipops, but they live out most of their surprisingly mundane lives in a surprisingly mundane world, similar to Joe Murray’s Rocko’s Modern Life. In fact, outside of their appearances, Mordecai and Rigby would probably be right at home in a Wes Anderson or Richard Linklater movie. However, in most episodes, someone (usually Mordecai and/or Rigby) messes with unseen/unknown supernatural forces (magical keyboards, brain-growing sports drinks, unicorn-attracting cologne, and unreturnable role-playing games) and the mundanity is overrun by LSD-inspired craziness (an 8-bit demon, man-eating hotdogs, and a prank caller that wields the power of time itself).
Once again, Cartoon Network is getting flack for cramming entire seasons onto single discs and, once again, it doesn’t really prove to be much of a problem for the 1080p, 1.78:1 video (the audio is a different story…). The two seasons (totaling 440 minutes, according to the box) have been spread over two discs – disc one is 25GB (12 episodes) and disc two is 50GB (28 episodes) – and the effect is clean and colourful. Despite my constant comparisons, Adventure Time and Regular Show don’t look very much alike. Adventure Time is all sharp edges and hard colour contrasts. It’s not Flash-based, but the digital paint is used to a full potential. Regular Show is also clearly digitally enhanced in its foreground cell frames and various special effects enhancements, but it has a more of a hand-made look when it comes to the backgrounds. In HD the texture of the watercolor paper becomes a part of the look and the minute changes/imperfections in the paint patterns are much cleaner. The older DVD releases were really washed out in comparison. Most signs of compression show in the differentiation between the foreground cells and these otherwise clean backgrounds. There are occasional edge haloes and minor aliasing effects here, though, again, it’s nothing compared to those DVDs, and its overall hue purity is actually cleaner than the Adventure Time collections. There also aren’t many issues with banding effects – something I’ve grown accustomed to expecting from television animation releases.
The Adventure Time collections were disappointments in the audio arena – both featured lossy (192kbps) Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks (a downgrade from both the Netflix streaming and iTunes releases, which were both DD 5.1). Fortunately for fans, the specs on the back cover of Regular Show seasons one and two list a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. Unfortunately, this is untrue and we’re dealing with another lossy (192kbps) Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Obvious issues with compression are minimal, mostly pertaining to the overall volume levels. The lack of discrete surround channels isn’t so much an issue, but the missing discrete center and LFE channels hurt a bit. Regular Show doesn’t have a whole lot of overt directional enhancement or much immersive sound design – to the contrary, the aural environment is purposefully dry – but it does have a huge emphasis placed on its musical soundtracks. And the music is awesome. Like, really genuinely great stuff, including ‘80s appropriate New Wave, hair metal, and ‘70s prog-rock. More surprising is the fact that Cartoon Network shelled out some cash for the rights to popular songs, including Joe Esposito ‘You’re the Best Around,’ Loverboy’s ‘Working for the Weekend,’ and The Thompson Twins’ ‘Lies.’ Exceptions to the drier sound design include the wacky sci-fi sound effects assigned to the show’s stranger fantasy Sci-Fi bits and the basic natural ambience of the park.
The extras begin with commentaries for every episode (occasionally more than one) that include the likes of Quintel, writer/storyboard artists Sean Szeles, Benton Connor and Calvin Wong, creative director/supervising producer Mike Roth, background painters Alex Dilts and Craig Simmons, writer Matt Price, supervising director John Infantino, character designer Ben Adams, art director Paula Spence, and voice cast Sam Marin and Bill Salyers. These are pretty laidback and reactive, but are amusing and occasionally feature a snippet of behind-the-scenes information. Up next on disc one is the unaired Regular Show pilot episode (8:00, HD). This shortened episode matches the final show stylistically and features most of the same voice cast (it was partially remade as episode 25 of season two). Disc one extras are wrapped-up with animatics for the pilot (7:30, HD) and The Power (11:20, HD), pencil tests from the pilot (:40, HD), a Hodgepodge Monster CG test (:04, HD), a 2010 teaser from the San Diego Comic-Con (2:40, HD), Quintel’s student short, The Naïve Man From Lolliland (4:10, HD), a ‘Party Tonight’ music video (2:10, HD), footage of Quintel recreating his pitch for The Power (16:30, HD), and two trailers (:50, HD).
Disc two’s non-commentary extras include an interview with Quintel/tour of the studio (5:10, HD) and Sam Sings Mystery Karaoke (2:00, HD), which is silent footage of voice actor Sam Marin singing something. His t-shirt and mouth are blurred.
Regular Show isn’t the magical, transcendental experience Adventure Time is, but if jerks like myself would stop comparing the two programs, I think it would establish a similarly firm adult fanbase – one it would deserve. This two season Blu-ray release features an impressive, better than Netflix and TV transfer with only minor compression artefacts and a nice collection of extra features, but the 2.0, 192kbps soundtrack is definitely a disappointment, especially since the box art lists a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 option that doesn’t exist. Hopefully, the next Cartoon Network Blu-rays will be more of the same – plus lossless audio, of course. Wes Anderson fans take note: there’s a very pointed, Rushmore-inspired joke in a second season episode.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 16th July 2013
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Extras: Cast and Crew Commentaries, Unaired Pilot, Animatics, Pencil Tests, CG Test, Comic-Con Teaser, The Naive Man from Lolliland, Sam Sings Mystery Karaoke, JG Pitches 'The Power,' Trailers, UltraViolet Copy
Easter Egg: No
Cast: J. G. Quintel, William Salyers, Sam Marin, Mark Hamill, Roger Craig, Smith Janie, Haddad-Tompkins
Genre: Action, Animation and Comedy
Length: 440 minutes
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