In 10 Words or Less
Back to the un-PC well for a final(?) time
Likes: "Drawn Together," Comedy Central, surreal comedy
Dislikes: Spanky Ham, gross-out comedy
Hates: Predictable jokes
The Story So Far...
"Drawn Together" smushed together parodies of reality TV and animation, resulting in an extremely funny and utterly un-PC half-hour comedy meant only for adults,which ran on Comedy Central for several years. Taking characters from several animated genres, including family fairy tales, super heroes, video games and anime, and putting them together to live in a house was the perfect set-up for making fun of reality shows. The short first season was released on DVD in October 2005, followed by the second season two years later in September 2007. DVDTalk has reviews of both sets: Season One | Season Two
If anything can tell you how bankrupt the reality TV genre is, it's the quality of parodies of Reality TV. Back in the beginning of the modern era of Reality TV, we had brilliant takes like "The Joe Schmoe Show." When reality TV hit critical mass, we got smart goofs like "Drawn Together." But now, all we have are references in the "Blank" Movie franchise and the last gasps of Cartoon Network's animated red-headed step kid.
While the second season let the Reality TV conceit slip away at times, the third season may as well have been another series all together. In fact, of the 14 episodes in this set, only two relate to reality shows, while one episode devotes its entire runtime to a parody of an old Saturday morning cartoon. This disappointing void is partially filled by exploring the world of cartoons, and being as filthy and twisted as possible. Bits and pieces of story find nooks and crannies to hide, like the gelatin of this Jell-O mold of a season. On the plus side, the stories aren't your usual sitcom tales, with plots about getting stranded in a mall parking spot, seeking revenge for a gang rape and abusing your younger self via a nipple-ring radio.
It's amazing to see the freedom the series' creators get to enjoy in crafting these episodes, especially in the uncensored versions available on the DVDs. Considering we live in a post-Imus, post-humor era, that "Drawn Together" can wallow in a kiddie pool of non-stop jokes about race, sexuality and creed is nothing shy of incredible and points out the show's biggest strength, which is the moral leniency afforded cartoon characters (though Br'er Rabbit and Bugs Bunny would argue it doesn't always help.) The animated Captain Hero can make a lot more gay jokes than Tom Welling ever could in a pair of tights, while Foxxy Love is the most in-your-face example of black stereotypes since the birth of gangsta rap.
Perhaps it's the sheer quantity of tasteless gags, whether it be racist statements by Princess Clara, gay jokes from Xandir or the frequent presence of male genitalia (made more present by the DVDs' uncensored nature), that makes them tolerable. If in the middle of your run of the mill cartoon, you sudden had a character pull out a masturbation machine, it would be utterly shocking. Here, it's like the air the show breathes, so when the series really goes for broke, it results in gags that mixpedophilia, bestiality , necrophilia and several other sexual tastes that could land a real person in jail. That it even exists gives us hope that the PC thugs haven't won yet.
The over-the-top filth is not the reason for watching "Drawn Together" though. When it is inspired, the use of cartoon archetypes and various parodies can be ingenious, like the extended Boogie Nights segment in "Breakfast Food Killers," or the Fat Albert theme in "Foxxy and the Gang Bang." It's these moments that made the show so entertaining in the first two seasons, but they were less apparent this time around. Maybe it was right time to get out of the "Drawn Together" business. But that remains to be seen, if the commentaries are to be believed.
The 14 episodes of "Drawn Together"'s third season are evenly split across two DVDs, which feature animated full-frame menus, with a play-all option, episode selections, and bonus features. There are no subtitles and no language options, but the episodes are closed captioned.
Like the previous sets, the third-season discs are packaged in a pair of clear ThinPak cases, with two-sided covers that provide a synopsis for each episode. Unlike the previous releases, there's nothing impressive about the slipcase the ThinPak's come in, and the packaging has no indication about music replacement.
Once again, the visuals on this show are great, with some of the most detailed American series animation in recent TV history. The show is loaded with bright colors and the level of detail is excellent (where applicable, namely the painted stills.) Outside of some slight pixelation along thin black lines, there's nothing off about the image, as there are no digital artifacts or dirt or damage.
It's a standard cable comedy presentation when it comes to the audio for this series, and the Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks deliver the dialogue, sound effects and notable musical numbers well, without distortion. The mix is right down the middle, without much in terns of obvious separation between the channels.
Unlike the first two sets, there are just four episode-length audio commentaries this time, with fewer participants. The results are relatively the same though, as you get a good deal of info on the making of the shows (and its possible future,) some interesting behind-the-scenes info, and a lot of goofing around, including talk about some of the writers' post-"Drawn" success. One commentary includes info on a non-drinking game you can play, which is an amusing concept, especially since on one episode, some of the characters play a drinking game, but it doesn't result in any kind of drunken track, so it's not a huge difference from the other commentaries.
Greeks and Freaks - composer Evan Schletter, writer/co-producer Jordan Young, writers/executive producers Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser, and writers Elijah Aron and Reed Agnew
Lost in Parking Space, Part I - Jeser, his wife Lisa, producer Mike Mendel, Young and Silverstein (non-drinking game)
Drawn Together Babies - Silverstein, actor James Arnold Taylor, and supervising producer Peter Avanzino
Breakfast Food Killers - Taylor, actress Abby McBride, Avanzino, Silverstein
Making a return from the Season Two discs is Karaoke Sing-A-Long, which offers up six short songs from the series, in Karaoke mode (with on-screen lyrics) or in Sing-Along Mode. Once again, I can't imagine a situation that would require someone to sing "Face the Balls," but if you find yourself faced with the challenge, here's the help you need, complete with a bouncing scrotal sack (or penis pump, or whatever other inappropriate icon used) to help you keep the beat.
The extras conclude with a collection of promos used to promote the show on Comedy Central during the three seasons the show was on, a pair of Comedy Central Quickies (from "South Park" and "The Sarah Silverman Show") and some DVD previews.
The Bottom Line
The third season of "Drawn Together" saw the show essentially drop the reality TV aspect to focus on being over-the-top in every aspect, especially if it will gross someone out or offend them. That's not to say it can't be funny, because it frequently is, but once the show lost its reason for being, it lost the sense that it was something unique, perhaps because the concept could only go so far. Either way, once you start parodying "Muppet Babies," you're probably running out of gas. The DVDs look and sound as good as the series ever have, but the extras have taken a bit of a dip, likely a reflection of the show's status. Fans of the series will want to take a look, but it's not the place for newcomers to start, as it's not representative of what the show can be.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.