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I gave all my best years to that woman.
All she gave me was mouths to feed.
Three miracles, straight from the loins of Jesus.
Since Charlie blew off both my testes.
1969 Cam Ranh Bay.
It was a massacre.


Squidbillies: Volume 4
Despite following the early Adult Swim model and being produced by old school Adult Swim alumni, somehow Squidbillies hasn’t started its inevitable descent into mediocrity, even after almost six years on the air. The quality leveled out a bit, sure, but there is some evidence to say this latest season (season five, released here as ‘volume’ four DVD) is the strongest in the series’ history. I’ve already talked quite a bit about the show’s back story, and my opinion of its overall value [http=http://www.dvdactive.com/reviews/dvd/squidbilli...]here[/url] and covered the third volume release here, so once again I’m going to opt for brief synopses and reviews of each episode below for this review. For whatever reason the episodes have yet again been randomly reordered from their original airing order, so I’m including episode numbers alongside the titles.

The Many Loves of Early Cuyler (episode 52): When Early learns his ex, Krystal, and her cousin won’t participate in a ménage-à-trois out of wedlock he marries both of them. Then his own grandmother. Then the rest of Dougal County’s female community. Besides hitting the easy target that is Appalachian hillbilly marriage rituals, this episode is a slick and speedy spoof of Jim Jones and the whole Jonestown incident, including Early’s hairpiece, which also happens to resemble voice actor Unknown Hinson’s actual hair.

America: Why I Love Her (episode 60): The show’s first 22 minute episode (unless you count the two-parter Re-United and It Feels No Good) is a musical extravaganza, and now tied with Argmagettin’ It On as the best in Squidbillies history. Between pitch-perfect songs about the ‘beauty’ that is America, is the story of an ‘undercover’ Al-Qaeda cell hoping to use Rusty as a means to access plutonium on the Cuyler land (which Dougal County’s resident supervillain Dan Halen has already scooped up). Songs include ‘Listen to the Animals’, which features adorable forest creatures singing hilarious conspiracy theorist inspired lyrics to a diabolically catchy bluegrass melody.

Dead Squid Walking (episode 53): Rusty learns his great grandfather is still alive, serving a prison term, and about to be put to death. Early reacts to the news by lamenting his difficult childhood under ‘Ga-Ga-Pee-Pap Cuyler’ (which is, of course, ironic considering the way he treats Rusty), and Granny propositions her ex-lover relentlessly. Ga-Ga-Pee-Pap tricks the family into breaking him out of prison with the promise of treasure. This is a pretty average episode, but Ga-Ga-Pee-Pap’s history of committing idiotic, and relatively harmless crimes is pretty amusing.

Young, Dumb and Full of Gums (episode 54): In another enjoyable, textbook example of what Squidbillies does best, Dan Halen convinces the idiot rednecks of Dougal County that President Obama is putting sterilizing drugs in the water, including…fluoride. The townsfolk take the expected action and stop drinking the water after trying to beat it to death. Soon enough their teeth rot out of their heads. The cherry on the top this time is the fact that Dan Halen doesn’t really have an endgame in mind for this particular scheme.

Squidbillies: Volume 4
The Need For Weed (episode 51): I have a feeling this particular episode would mean more to me if one, I smoked weed, and two, and I had any idea who Widespread Panic is. Still, even I, a non-weed-smoking, non-jam-band-fan, found some solid laughs. Turns out that Lil’s usual face down in her own vomit appearance was a ruse all along, and she’s actually leading a small army of naked, marijuana-farming Mexican immigrants through a face-sized hole in the floor. Widespread Panic’s true intensions can be seen from space, but earn a snicker.

Holodeck Redneck (episode 55): In a surprising move the Squidbillies writers whip out some geek-cred, and build an entire episode around a joke inspired by Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Sheriff introduces the family to a mobile holodeck that makes their wildest dreams a virtual reality (you like that, I just came up with that). The results are mixed. Rusty effectively escapes into his imagination, while Early proves to be too stupid to muster mental imagery. Granny’s Technicolor dreams are the saddest right up to the moment it’s revealed whose fantasy we’re actually witnessing.

Frivolacious Squidigation (episode 56): Early continues his habit of injuring family members in hopes of scoring it big with another frivolous lawsuit. This time his actual forethought is suspect (it’s possible he’s just being characteristically stupid), but the effect is another near death for Granny via broken carnival ride. The generally minor episode takes a funny turn when Early tries to convince the judge that Granny is dead, and wheels a squid-shaped coffin into the court. The joke culminates in Dan Halen handing Granny a human brain, reasoning that since she’s not a zombie, and thus alive, she won’t eat the brain. Granny, of course, eats the brain.

Fatal Distraction (episode 57): As the title indicates, this one is a sort of Fatal Attraction spoof. Early steals a GPS, which proceeds to self-realize, and the two develop an epic bro-mance. Much like all his romances, bro or otherwise, Early loses interest, and the GPS flips out. Pretty forgettable stuff overall.

Lean Mean Touchdown Making Machine (episode 59): In this episode Rusty is revealed to be the county’s best football player, and a bidding war begins between major colleges in the area. Dan Halen’s Sheetrock University showers the family with gifts, which changes Early’s opinion on higher education. Rusty, in true Rusty tradition, is more concerned with an actual education. I’m always up for a good ribbing of America’s baffling obsession with sports, and Rusty’s final decision was a nice surprise.

Clowny Freaks (episode 58): Again, I assume that if I found the subject matter, in this case the whole Insane Clown Posse/Juggalo thing, amusing I’d have a little more appreciation for this particular episode. In a weak ending for the collection (when aired the musical episode was the season capper), Early and Rusty become diehard fans of an Insane Clown Posse like rap group, and begin to live their lives accordingly. I’m not sure I even grinned during this uneven, overlong episode.

Squidbillies: Volume 4

Video


There are few things in my life more tedious than trying to find a clever way to say the same thing about the same TV series release over and over again. This volume four release basically matches the volume three release, which basically matched the volume two release, which didn’t match the volume one release because the volume one release featured all the 4x3 episodes. It also basically matches all the Aqua Teen Hunger Force 16x9 releases. Once again I lament the lack of an HD release option, as Squidbillies does air in HD these days, and it earns the upgrade with wildly complex and colourful backgrounds. The palette is plenty bright for a standard definition release, but the more vibrant hues tend to show signs of compression, including blocking and other digital artefacts. The complex backgrounds are particularly noisy, but the simple, solidly coloured foreground characters are generally pretty good looking, save some not so crisp edge enhancement.

Squidbillies: Volume 4

Audio


Slightly less tedious than discussing the same old, same old video quality is discussing the same old, same old audio quality. Once again, Squidbillies features some truly revolting sound effects, and listening to the series in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround is kind of like being assaulted by rotting meat, and once again, I mean this 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 scene in Frivolacious Squidigation where the creaky carnival ride falls apart being a good example). 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 nighttime, and when certain characters speak with incredible volume. This collection features the 22-minute musical episode, which probably could’ve worked fine in 2.0 surround, but the discreet LFE adds some great oomph, especially during the heavier rock songs.

Squidbillies: Volume 4

Extras


Once again, no commentary tracks, but there are slightly more extras here then there were on the nearly blank volume three release. Things start with ‘ Squidbillies Dragon Con Panel 2010’ (10:40) which begins with Dana Snyder voicing and puppeting a Granny muppet, that he proceeds to fondle a Dr. Who look-alike from the audience with. Then there’s a script reading, with a random audience member in a Dan Halen outfit reading the character’s parts, followed by Unknown Hinson singing a little song. ‘The Making of America: Why I Love Her (7:20) is an interview with the creators, who discuss the inspiration behind the episode, and the different musicians that participated with the project, all of whom seem to have been great sports. Less good sports – The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyd, who turned the production down. It’s also good to know that Early’s guitar solo is actually played by Unknown Hinson. ‘Dougal County Ink-Off’ (3:00) is a tattoo/pig hollering contest at some kind of Squidbillies event. The rest of the extras are quite brief, including ‘Voice Over with the Dancing Outlaw’ (1:00), a brief behind the scenes with voice actor/musician Jesco White as the directors try to get him to shout ‘skull’, ‘Robot Moon Dragonmoon Wars!’ (1:20), a brief clip made for Dragon Con audiences staring the cast, ‘Funny Pete Stuff’ (trailers, 4:10), and another ‘Art and Music’ montage (12:20).

Squidbillies: Volume 4

Overall


Perhaps Adult Swim is just planning one big, awesome, multi-season Blu-ray release of Squidbillies for 2012. I’m going to go ahead and start that rumour right now. This collection suffers a lack of awesome 1080p upgrading, but features a handful of great episodes, including the incredible musical episode America: Why I Love Her. Once again, extras are slim, but most collectors probably won’t care all that much. Maybe that Blu-ray collection I’m starting a rumour about features new commentary tracks on every episode.


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