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Sealab 2021 follows in the tradition of Adult Swim's Space Ghost programming by remixing an old Hanna Barbara series, Sealab 2020 into a new one. This new show was cancelled in 2005 following a fifty-two episode run on the Cartoon Network and this two-disc set presents the final 13 episodes. While it's a shame this cult hit had to be cancelled, it's cause for celebration that it now lives on through DVD in its entirety.

Sealab: Season IV
Feature
Presumably, in the year 2021 a group of untold numbers inhabit of a high-tech research facility at the bottom of the sea. The first crew-member worth mentioning is Dr. Quentin Q. Quinn (Brett Butler) who spends his time charming the main sex object... I mean, lady on board, Debbie DuPree (Kate Miller) while putting up with the shenanigans of his zany crew-members. They include (but are not limited to) the latin-shark lover Marco (Erik Estrada), the overly perky Stormy (Ellis Henican), the annoying Hesh (Chris Ward) and the chair-bound radio operator Sparks (Bill Lobley). This highly vulgar group of misfits are guided by their fearless redneck leader, Captain Tornado Shanks (Michael Goz). Not much gets done around Sealab which is probably for the best given the laughably incompetent crew aboard it.

Of these thirteen episodes, my favorite has to be the series finale Legacy of Laughter, which plays like a behind the scenes preview of the next season (which doesn't exist) with the cast of Sealab taking questions from an audience. Hilariously, they're confused with Aqua Teen Hunger Force several times and preview their new episode Sea Babies (which again, doesn't exist). In their typical cruel manner, Adult Swim informs viewers at the end of this episode (which mentions the next season several times) that the show they have just watched was infact the last of Sealab. In some sick and twisted way, this is funny but to the dedicated fan, it's just plain mean.

Noticeably absent from the Sealab line-up is Captain Hank Murphy voiced by the late, always great Harry Goz. Filling his shoes is Michael Goz (his son), as Captain Tornado Shanks. Surprisingly, the series still floats despite this major cast member change as Shanks proves hilarious as a lovable redneck idiot. Still, it's a bummer to see Captain Murphy represented in the opening credits sequence and not have him appear in any episode. Likewise, it's disapointing to not see Captain Shanks anywhere in the opening sequence even though he's the new leader of Sealab. We all know the Adult Swim animators are lazy, but cripes, this is pretty bad.

Sealab: Season IV
My complaints for this release are the same as with the recent The Brak Show: Volume 2 release. The combined run time for these two discs is just under four hours (episodes and supplements), which begs the question: why did Warner Brothers spread this out over two-discs? The answer seems obvious at first, to make more money but then one must realize that it also costs more money to manufacture a two-disc set. My take on the matter is that when the average consumer pictures in their mind an entire season of their favorite show, a one-disc release would seem unsubstantial and scrawny. By spreading these releases over two-discs, the consumer superficially thinks they're getting more for their dollar. My solution to the problem? Release the entire series as a four-disc set and get it over with but then again, this is the less-profitable path to take.

My second and much larger complaint is packaging. Warner Brothers is pulling the same crap on their Sealab 2021 sets that they did with their Harry Potter films. The first three season sets of the show were dished out in digipack cases. I'm not too fond of the digipack, but I am fond of all releases of a given show having a uniform look in both artwork and packaging. Warner Brothers already dropped the ball on having any hint of visual consistency with the artwork of these releases and now goes a step further by releasing this final season in an amaray case. You can imagine how poorly these four seasons of Sealab 2021 look together on a shelf. If anyone with a degree in graphic design or common sense is reading this, I beg of you - find employment with Warner Brothers Home Video because they could use the help.

Personally, I would've liked for Sealab 2021 to continue onward after these thirteen episodes. Even with the loss of Captain Murphy, I still felt the show was yet to "jump the shark" (although during one episode, a shark ski-jumps over a tank of Fonzi's). Still, it's not so bad that the series went out while still producing quality material. It makes my memory of the series all the more sweet.

Video
These thirteen episodes are presented in their original 1:33:1 full frame aspect ratio. I'm not sure what application Sealab 2021 was animated in, but as with most Adult Swim shows, quality varies quite a bit. The animation is mostly recycled material from the original 70's series so grain dirt, softness and an overall poor animation value troubles nearly every episode. Lucky for Sealab 2021, the show isn't known for its animation quality but rather its unique brand of comedy. If you end up disappointed with the picture of this set, you're probably entering the release with the wrong expectations in mind.

Sealab: Season IV
Audio
This final season like all those that came before it is given a Dolby Digital 2.0 English track. The show is heavy on dialogue and often light on non-atmospheric sound effects, so this stereo track suits Sealab 2021 just fine. The voice performances come through clean as does the music and sound effects work. Technically speaking, this set leaves little to be desired.

Extras
The first extra is the option to watch the episode Shrabster in forward motion rather than in reverse as it was originally shown (think Memento). It's not really the same, but still an interesting inclusion. Next up is a thirty-second alternate ending to the series finale where voice actor Brett Butler finds out that the show is cancelled in the recording booth. We're also given two minutes of deleted scenes from Joy of Grief, just as funny as the rest of the episode.

Sealab 2021: Sunken Treasures is a fifteen minute posthumous look at the "funniest" moments from the show hosted by two trees. Half of the fun in this special is the material presented and the other half in how it's presented by our leafy hosts. Lastly, we're given what seems to be another episode called Nightshift that shows us the lesser-known people working on Sealab - after a painfully boring ninety second intro-narration, it becomes a compilation of the night-shift goofing off. Nightshift ties with Sunken Treasures as the funniest supplements provided.

I appreciate the extras given here, but am still left somewhat disappointed in that they reveal nothing behind the scenes of Sealab 2021. These were the last thirteen shows produced and we're not even tossed so much as a series finale commentary. It's cheap, if you ask me. As a fan, I'd like to know how the show's production team handled the loss of Harry Goz, why the show was cancelled and why internet celebrity Harry Knowles appears on-screen in several episodes (see screenshot).

Sealab: Season IV
Overall
This last volume of Sealab 2021 contains a fantastic bunch of episodes and a slew of funny bonus features, which was enough to satisfy me. I hate to see the show die, but at least it's going out on top. Packaging quibbles aside, this is indeed a great fourth and final release of the show.


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