Squidbillies: Volume 2 (US - DVD R1)
Gabe's dreams are all dead and buried, and he wishes the sun would explode...
My dreams are all dead and buried
Sometimes I wish the sun would just explode
When god comes and calls me to his kingdom,
I'll take all you sons of bitches when I go.
It took me something like a dozen episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force to actually like the show, so I’ve made a concerted effort to give all Adult Swim show’s a fair shake ever since. Most of them are what I’d politely call acquired tastes. Squidbillies comes from the creators of other acquired Adult Swim tastes ( ATHF, The Brak Show and Space Ghost Coast to Coast), so I was immediately open to giving it many chances, and eventually it paid off. By season two the writers have found their niche, discovered the characters, and have a fully formed and original idea on their hands now.
I usually prefer plot and character based comedy over out of context, one-off humour, which is probably why I don’t really like sketch shows, so early episodes of the twelve-minute series weren’t really to my liking. Though each short episode is still mostly standalone, ruling out the possibility of too much plot based comedy, the characters are well established enough that the funny parts pull more genuine laughs. As per the norm the straight men get the most guffaws out of me. Rusty was just as stupid as the rest of his family in the beginning, but now he more politely stands by while things fall apart. The Sheriff scores big laughs with his high gore slapstick, usually at the hands of the characters he should be policing. My personal favourite is Dan Halen, who isn’t a straight man per se, but he’s the guy that takes advantage of all the idiots in the Squid’s small Georgia town, and Lex Luthor spoofs get the best of me, especially when they murder just for the sake of it.
Most folks will tell you the show’s animation is crude, and likely ask non-fans to ignore it, but I think it’s brilliant. The actual animation is low budget and movement is limited, but the show is reasonably far removed from ATHF and Sea Lab 2021. The character designs are like children’s sketches come to life, which is easier said than done. It’s easy to draw badly, but actually quite difficult to draw like a child. There are lessons that even non-artistic adults glean throughout life that ensure that even their crudest drawings lack the genuine ignorance of the way children reproduce the world around them. I understand if this reads ridiculously, but I mean it as a huge compliment, and I mean it honestly.
After a whole lotta interlaced animation Squidbillies is refreshingly un-interlaced. It’s obvious that this particular progressive transfer isn’t an HD transfer thanks to some slightly jagged edges, and some minor edge enhancement, but things are generally better looking than most… crudely… animated… television shows. When it shows on television the show is presented in 1.33 framing, and here it had been anamorphically enhanced so there’s a smidgen of that unfortunate ‘blown up’ look, most obvious during the particularly un-sharp end credits. Colours are very solid for a standard definition transfer, and well separated. There is some noise and blocking in the brighter reds, but it’s all pretty minor.
Squidbillies features some truly revolting sound effects, and in Dolby Digital 5.1 it’s kind of like being assaulted by grossness. I mean that in a good way. The effects are pretty flat on their own, but are layered well on the track and work directionally, though most of the movement is in the front channels. The rear speakers mostly pick up echoes from the front channels, but do have some life during the more musical moments, when the characters are outside at night time, and when Satan speaks. Squidbillies has a bit of a love affair with heavy metal and southern rock, and has featured cameos from members of Dokken, Judas Priest, and 38 Special. Music isn’t quite as big a deal as it is on Metalocalypse, but it has a big part in the show, and the discrete LFE channel adds some real oomph.
The extras are delegated to the second disc of the set. Things start with a group commentary track on the episode entitled ‘Armageddon It On!’, which is a good choice considering it might be the best episode in the show’s history. ‘Dragonbillies’ (01:20) is a sort of fake trailer for a series that likely isn’t actually coming soon. It replaces the major characters with fire spewing dragons that only speak in screams. ‘ Squid Billies Circle Jerk 2’ (23:00) is a beer swilling, porch sitting ‘round table’ with some of the show’s writers, directors and producers talking surprisingly candidly about the inspiration behind the show. It includes a bit of behind the scenes footage with the celebrity guests. ‘Funny Pete Stuff’ (10:00) is a collection of Adult Swim promo’s for the show and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. ‘Art and Music’ (09:50) is a collection of production art, backgrounds, character sketches and mock-ups set to some of the series’ soundtrack music. Everything is completed with footage from the 2008 Dragoncon Q and A (09:20).
Squidbillies is currently one of Adult Swim’s more solid series. It isn’t great like Metalocalypse and Frisky Dingo, or classic like Venture Bros. and Home Movies, but it’s standing above garbage like Tim and Eric Awesome Show. I’m looking forward to more new episodes myself, but admit the series is a very acquired taste. Fans should be plenty happy with this collection’s A/V quality and extras, and non-fans might want to give it a look. The second season is by and large better than season one, so this might also be a good place to start.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 21st April 2009
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Surround 2.0 English
Subtitles: English SDH
Extras: Creator and Crew Commentary, Dragonbillies, Squidbillies Circle Jerk 2, Funny Pete Stuff, Art + Music, Dragon Con 2008
Easter Egg: No
Cast: Unknown Hinson, Dana Snyder, Daniel McDevitt and Todd Hanson
Genre: Animation and Comedy
Length: 230 minutes
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