The TV Box: Regular Show

It's anything but

There was a time in my life where the differentiation between the couch and my ass was difficult to make out.  The hours spent sitting and watching television over the course of my existence is staggering… but since having kids, that time has whittled away to near nothingness.  With the exception of New Girl on Tuesday nights and Game of Thrones on Sunday (alternatively, The Walking Dead when in season, also on Sunday), I watch very little television that I choose to watch (this excludes video games and Blu-rays).  Instead, I am treated to various cartoons and tween shows when my kids are in control of the remote, or various insane housewives, medical, cooking, and/or little people shows when Mrs. Blahg wields the remote.  Fortunately, and most surprising to me, it is some of the cartoons that have become some of the more interesting programming lately.  Case in point, Regular Show on Cartoon Network.

As part of Cartoon Network’s Monday night lineup of new programming, beginning with my absolute triptastic favorite Adventure Time, Regular Show, now in its third season, stands out as something completely banal and plain, while at the same time being surreal and completely out of left field.  How can those two concepts coexist you ask?  I have no clue… but the creator of Regular Show, J. G. Quintel, has managed just that.

Regular Show revolves around two friends, Mordecai and Rigby, a blue jay and raccoon respectively, and their bland job as groundskeepers in a local park.  Their boss, Benson, is a walking, talking, and living gumball machine who oversees a motley crew made up of other difficult to define creatures/people/things; Skips (voiced by Mark Hamill) is a large white ape thing, Muscle Man is a weird green guy who believes himself to be muscular when he is anything but with the consistent put down of “my mom”, Hi-five Ghost… a ghost with a hand on top of his head in perpetual hi-five mode who hangs out with Muscle Man, and Pops… an old-timey guy with a gigantic head.  Together they make up the crew that takes care of this park.

Mordecai is mellow, Rigby is not… neither of them is very bright, and their weekly 11 minute adventures range from goofy to flat out freaky.  One of my favorite episodes revolves around Mordecai making fun of Rigby for not having his high school diploma.  What begins as a simple attempt to get Mordecai to try a drink Rigby developed that he refers to as Rig-juice turns into a battle of the dim-witted.  When Rigby drinks a special brain-juice designed to enhance brain power, he ignores the recommended small dosage and ends up chugging the thing, giving him hyper-super intelligence.  What follows is some of the smartest, driest, and hilarious wit and social commentary you will find in any medium.  Eventually, they reach a point of intelligence where neither one of them can even comprehend the world us morons inhabit… and they come to understand that being intelligent means nothing if you can’t relate to others.  Fortunately, the Rig-juice that started the whole argument in the first place is the perfect cure for their expanded minds.

Another favorite episode of mine has our dyanmic due putting on movie night in the park.  I honestly don’t recall the set up for what happens (I can’t say I always give the show the attention is deserves), but what eventually happens is that while watching a horror movie al fresco (which bears a striking resemblance to Evil Dead 2 and/or Army of Darkness… the hero even has Ash’s chin and clothing), Mordecai and Rigby do something that brings the dead back to life.  What begins as a failure on their part becomes the greatest 3-D experience movie goers have ever had.  Eventually, our “heroes” save the day… and their jobs.

Many of the episodes boil down to this pair keeping their jobs… or rather, them being so idiotic that they run the risk of being fired all the time and manage to save themselves at the last minute.  However, there are plenty of other story arcs going on as well.  Every one of the other characters has had episodes devoted to them, but it always comes back around to our video game playing duo.

Another of my favorite aspects of Regular Show is that Mordecai and Rigby remind me so much of my two daughters… one tall and skinny and mellow (my 9 year old), the other, smaller and hyper (my soon to be 7 year old)… not the idiotic part.  My little Rigby can even mimic the “Yay-Yeah” Rigby is quite fond of saying to the point that a school mate of hers has even commented that she “is Rigby”.  And when both of my girls bust out with the pair’s “Ooooohhhhhhhhh”, my inner geek swells with pride.

Unlike Adventure Time, I don’t imagine this will find its way into the “rave” culture as readily.  It is trippy and strange at time, but I feel this doesn’t try quite as hard as the aforementioned Adventure Time to be subversive and weird.  The creator obviously has a fondness for the 80’s, story lines that revolve around large cordless phones, crappy 16 bit video games, and wrestling, but this show is firmly rooted in the now.  With moments of psychedelic oddity combined with the mundane, Regular Show is shockingly thoughtful and intelligent.  

For instance… last night’s episode (posted below) delves into the idea that a name change can make you cooler.  After watching a documentary about a band and hearing the lead singer talk about how after changing his name to The Urge his life was so much better, Rigby decides to take two random objects and create a new name for himself.  He brilliantly chooses the name Trashboat.  Much ridicule follows, until the final showdown between Trashboat and The Urge from the future whose life was ruined after he became overshadowed by Trashboat.  A series of subsequent idiots from the future arrive and take out the laser-guitar wielding The Urge thus saving the day, and leaving us viewers standing there saying, “wha?”  Great stuff.

As their tagline suggests… Regular Show, it’s anything but.

Cornelius J. Blahg

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