A self absorbed milkshake named Master Shake (Dana Snyder), a box of French fries named Frylock (Carey Means) who is some sort of scientist, and a wad of meat named Meatwad (Dave Willis) live in New Jersey, next door to Carl (also voiced by Dave Willis), their grumpy human neighbor whose interests include above ground pools, cars, eighties arena rock, and pornography. Together, they are Aqua Teen Hunger Force, though honestly why they're actually called this isn't really important as they don't spend much time underwater nor do they actually fight hunger. Whether or not they're teens or not is also debatable, in fact, in this very collection both Shake and Meatwad are said to be in their late thirties.
At any rate, they've been entertaining those of us with cable on The Cartoon Network's Adult Swim program for a few years now and gone on to gather a sizable cult following. They also came to some notoriety a few years ago when they got into trouble with the law in Boston when a publicity stunt involving a light-up Mooninite sign was thought to be some sort of terrorist threat. On top of that, they've starred in their own theatrical movie (Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters - it didn't very well at the box office but a sequel is rumored to be coming to DVD in 2012 called Death Fighter) and Playstation 2 video game - amazing when you think about it, and equally amazing is that at the time of this writing, there's a currently an Aqua Teen Hunger Force - Live! concert touring the country. What we have now is the seventh compilation of episodes from The Cartoon Network/Warner Brothers, in the form of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Volume Seven, compiling ten episodes of the show on a single DVD which were culled from seasons six and seven of the show.
None of this material really makes any sense at all, but all of it is damn funny even if it's really difficult to explain to anyone who hasn't seen it just exactly why that is... it's one of those shows that either works for you or it doesn't. There isn't really any in the middle zone to hide in here, as it's all very abstract and off the wall. We are, after all, talking about a series that revolves around a box of French fries that shoots lasers out of his eyes, an obnoxious and perpetually horny milkshake, and a talking ball of meat...
Here's a look at the episodes that make up the contents of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Volume 7 (some mild spoilers below):
Creature From The Plaque Lagoon: When the Aqua Teens lose their teeth, Meatwad and Frylock decide to capture the Tooth Fairy but it all turns out to be a sinister revenge plot hatched by none other than Dr. Wongburger (Tommy Blacha) from the infamous Dickesode.
Time Machine: Frylock builds a time machine that doesn't work very well because it only goes next door to Carl's house. Regardless, people go to his place and steal his stuff while gigantic talking roaches from the future wreak havoc.
Two And A Half Star Wars Out Of Five: A weird pink guy with lots of nipples and a utility belt tries to get Frylock to let him stay with the Aqua Teens by doing yard work for them. It turns out that this guy has plans to blow up the moon and is actually a Wookie named Drewbacca who plays in a Star Trek tribute band. The Mooninites have a cameo in this episode.
Fry Legs: Frylock is tired of not being able to attract the attention of the computer repair woman he pays to come over and plug his PC in for him, so he builds some bizarre bionic legs in hopes that she'll find him more attractive. Unfortunately for Frylock, not only does she have a boyfriend, but she's also a C.H.U.D. and isn't all that interested in him.
Der Inflatable Fuhrer: Frylock takes a freelance job for extra money and unwittingly winds up creating biological weapons for an inflatable balloon version of Adolf Hitler (voiced by Bill Hader). Of course, once Frylock realizes who he's working for, he and the Aqua Teens have to set things right. Lots of balloon Nazis get popped.
The Last One Forever And Ever: In this truly bizarre episode, Frylock learns that the water in the area is flammable and eventually the Aqua Teens and Carl all blow up after Carl farts in his pool. From there we meet a man that looks like Shake (H. John Benjamin credited as Captain Turd Mahoy) can't come up with the rent money that he owes to a man who looks like Frylock (T-Pain). He tries to sell his stories but can't seem to get anyone interested until a talking exercise ball that looks like Meatwad (voiced by Dave Willis) gives him some ideas which are eerily similar to Spongebob Squarepants. Shake solicits the input for their neighbor, Carl (Dave Long Jr., who won a Carl lookalike contest), who tells him that the story needs more boobs.
Rubberman: When Carl rakes all of the used condoms and syringes that the crack whores have been leaving on his lawn onto the ATHF's property, Frylock decides to recycle them by making a big duck. After naming the creature Lance Potter (Don Kennedy), Meatward puts a magic hat on the duck and it comes to live and terrorizes the neighborhood.
Rabbot Redux: Picking up where The Last One Forever And Ever left off, the ATHF drive the moving truck they rented... two houses down. Carl isn't impressed that they now live on the left side of his house instead of the right, while Shake and Meatwad debate who will get which room in the new house. None of this lasts very long as eventually the Rabbot shows up and makes problems. This episode has a pretty cool new theme song from Schoolly D. over the opening and closing credits but it isn't used on any of the other episodes.
Multiple Meats:After Master Shake watches Minority Report he decides to cut Meatwad in half for thinking about doing something he might object to. This results in there being two Meatwads, which Shake then tries to destroy by cutting them both in half. Soon enough, the house is full of small Meatwads, all of whom want to sing 3,000,000 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall resulting in Shake's eventual demise.
Monster: Meatwad is convinced that there's a monster living in the sand pile that's in his closet. Frylock does his best to convince Meatwad it's only his imagination, while Shake takes the opposite side and tries to convince Meatwad that the monster is real and that it's going to eat him so that he'll hire him as a professional monster hunter.
So how does this latest batch of episodes compare to what has come before? They're good, but not great. This collection doesn't seem to be as consistently funny as some of the others have proven to be. There are definitely some stand out episodes here - Frylegs and Rubberman are both so off the wall that you can't help but laugh quite a bit at them - but the live action Last One Forever And Ever is a bit of a disappointment (despite a great performance from Dave Long Jr. who is eerily believable as Carl). The rest of the episodes are about average for the series, which means they're certainly screwy enough and funny enough that fans will want to watch them, probably more than once, but they just don't rank up there alongside some of the classic episodes from the first few seasons. You've got to give the creative team credit for trying a few new things this time around, but also for bringing back some of the more interesting characters from previous episodes. The Rabbot Redux episode even plays off of some of the show's 'continuity' by having Meatwad have a flashback when he sees the Danger Cart that Frylock and Shake used to make him haul them around in.
PE Christmas episode featuring Public Enemy front man Chuck D has not been included on this release but will likely appear on the next DVD along with the rest of the episodes from Season Seven.
The video quality of this seventh volume of episodes doesn't differ in quality much from the six that came before it, though it is presented in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen as opposed to some of the earlier volumes which were presented in fullframe. Colors look nice and while the animation on the show is rather basic, there's a fairly high level of detail. There are a few instances of line shimmering and aliasing, but aside from that, the episodes all look pretty nice. There aren't any compression artifacts and the image is nice and clean from start to finish.
For the DVD release, The Cartoon Network has given Aqua Teen Hunger Force Volume Seven a pretty solid Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix and a less impressive but still decent quality Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix. Everything sounds good and all channels are used fairly actively to play around with a few effects nicely. There's really not much to complain about here. Optional subtitles are available in English SDH only.
There aren't as many extras on this release as there have been on past releases and there are no commentary tracks at all but the featurettes that are included are worth checking out starting with Live Action Behind the Scenes which is a segment that shows us what it was like working on '12 minutes of television that changed television for 12 minutes.' Complimenting this featurette is Live Action Carl: The Dave Long Story: Shave Your Head, Grow A Mustache, And Gain 80 lbs. For A Shot At Fame is a look at what Dave Long Jr. went through in order to transform himself into Carl for the live action episode. Rubberman Behind the Scenes: Your Mom And Uncle Sing About Condoms shows us how the musical numbers that are used in the Rubberman episode were created and recorded, while Dumb Down Your Smart Phone and Terror Phone II: The Legend of Rakenstein (which is a sequel to the live action Terror Phone sketch that was in the extras section on Volume Six) are some goofy sketches/bits that are amusing enough.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Volume 7 doesn't represent the show's pinnacle but it's still pretty funny stuff. Those who are new to the series will probably want to start with the earlier material as this set is just not quite as consistent as the others, but the good still outweighs the bad. There aren't as many extras as there were in the last few sets either, which is a bit of a disappointment as the extras on the ATHF releases have traditionally been pretty funny, but what's here is still good and the set comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.