Adult Swim's Squidbillies are back for a third collection of irreverent and often times semi-nasty comedy. The premise of Squidbillies hansn't changed, and it still revolves around a hillbilly squid named Early Cuyler (voiced by Stuart Daniel Baker better known as singer/songwriter Unknown Hinson) who lives in a small redneck town in the hills of Georgia. At one point during his younger days, Early had a thirty-two second sexual relationship with a mammoth woman named Krystal (voiced by Mary Kraft) that lead to the birth of Rusty Cuyler (voiced by Daniel McDevitt). Krystal didn't want a squid baby and so the child was left on the doorstep of Rusty's sister, Lil (voiced by Patricia French), who works as a hair stylist when she isn't making meth. Why didn't Early take care of his son? He was in jail for fifteen years for robbing a liquor store. The local Sheriff (Bobby Ellerbee) took pity on Early when he found out that he had a son and so Early was given early release. He set out to find a job and wound up a patsy CEO for Dan Halen (voiced by Todd Hansen), a local evil corporate industrialist. The show essentially revolves around the exploits of these central characters who, of course, have no problem finding plenty of bizarre scenarios to get into.
The animation is still very sketchy and the series hasn't changed its look at all. This isn't a bad thing, mind you, it's actually a positive as it gives the characters a sloppy, sketchy unfinished look that suits the chaotic material well. The backgrounds employed throughout the series are more interesting in that they look to be painted in an almost surrealist manner. As such, Squidbillies is a really interesting and unique looking show. The show also makes excellent use of music. From the opening theme (performed by country legend Billy Joe Shaver) to the background music, the instrumental bits that pepper each episode really help bring the atmosphere out into the open.
The ten episodes one this disc (taken from the show's fourth season) are laid out as follows:
Anabolic-holic: When Rusty discovers, thanks to a run in with a hulking behemoth named Thunder Clap (voiced by the best wrestler ever, Mick Foley) that steroids have no ill effects, he roids up and rages on. In this episode, Early sports a hat with a picture of Sarah Palin on it with 'VPILF' underneath it. That made me laugh a lot.
The Liar, The Bitch And The Bored Rube: The Squidbillies decide that books are wrong and Early decides to do something about it while Granny blames the 'New York Jewocracy', but not before he explains the history of his 'Krystal' tattoo series.
The Fine Ol' Solution:Early, not the most open minded of chaps, decides that it's up to him to protect low end jobs from the Mexicans (by throwing alligators at them), who will do them even though Americans aren't interested in them. Thank God for monster trucks and handy, conveniently placed cliffs!
Lerm: If you've ever wanted to see a redneck squid flip out on a fax machine, this is the episode you've been waiting for. Also, Rusty and Early have to deal with an alien while the Sheriff tries to keep the peace and stop people from respirating on one another.
Confessions Of A Gangrenous Mind: The Squidbillies encounter the oldest living Confederate widow (you get one guess as to who she is!) and find that she doesn't really have anything interesting to offer anyone, she's just really old and likes to play with the CB radio.
The Big Gay Throwdown: In the unending pursuit of justice, Sheriff finds that he must go deep undercover to bring down a wanted man, even if that means heading into the thick of a gay pride parade. After all, no one likes man on man BDSM and must act now to turn back the tide on homosexuality... or so says the Reverend who tries to organize the 'Hate March.'
Atone Deaf: Early has long suffered with anger management issues, and is now learning to deal with them by getting even angrier and punching things. He also loses his keys after getting loaded and having the Sheriff confiscate his keys and debates the merits of Blu-ray.
God's Bro: The townsfolk discuss buying a racetrack for cars and realize that, in matters of science, they must turn to religion to get the right answer. A period of public comment goes wrong and the Sheriff puts on his riot gear and then God's Brother shows up and conjures Kirk Cameron. I love poontang, indeed!
Reunited, And It Feels No Good: Early's brother comes to town to pay his kin a visit, resulting in an incident where Early learns how important his family is to him, particularly when he's able to exploit them for money. This episode leads into...
Not Without My Cashcow: ...which picks up where the last one left off. When Rusty mysteriously disappears and the media swoops in to cover it, Early discovers that he loves the attention and the potential income that it brings. In this episode we learn Rusty's full legal name.
The series seems to have gotten a bit more topical and a bit more political in more recent times, taking a cue from South Park without ever feeling like a rip off of that successful series. Here we see the writers taking stabs at the stereotypes of southern hillbilly culture's paranoia of illegal immigrants and homosexuals (and opposition to hate crime laws), while still managing to play with recurring themes such as Early's fear and distrust of technology and Rusty's fascination with mechanical tinkering. The writing team seems to have hit a good stride this time around, with more hits than misses when compared to the second season's offerings. With only ten episodes slapped into this release, the run time cruises by at light speed, and before you know it, you're out of new material and waiting patiently for the next DVD release. To the series detriment, however, is the same problem that's plagued previous releases in that when watching these in one sitting, it quickly becomes repetitive and even formulaic, which is hard to believe when you consider how outlandish and insane some of the episodes can get.
Ultimately the series remains a predictable and formulaic one, but it's still funny enough to be worth a watch, particularly for the more seasoned fans of some of the Adult Swim line's more esoteric fare. Put this on when you get back from the bar and need to unwind before hitting the sack for the night and it's pretty much the perfect companion. The material here isn't so much edgy as it is crass and stupid, but let's face it, crass and stupid is sometimes very funny, just like this show.
The 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen episodes look decent on this set with some noticeably strong color reproduction and black levels. There are no problems with edge enhancement or mpeg compression at all thought some very obvious aliasing and line shimmering is hard not to notice. Aside from that, this is a pretty nice effort and the series looks quite good. The odd painted backgrounds are colorful and sloppy just as they should be and detail levels are fine. No problems with print damage, dirt or debris are evident and aliasing aside, this material looks nice.
The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix on this set is quite good. Dialogue is clean and clear and there are no problems with hiss or distortion. The music and Billy Joe Shaver's opening theme song sound great with some very distinct acoustic guitar noticeable and everything is properly balanced. You'll notice some pretty distinct surround activity in a few of the more chaotic scenes featured in each episode, and the directional effects add to the insanity of it all. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.
First up is the Art & Music (13:29) section which is a collection of pre-production art and sketches set to some of the music from the series including some interesting character design illustrations. Up next is This Ain't A Hat, It's A Ragtop For A Sex Convertible (1:16) which is an amusing, albeit brief, look at the hats Early spots in the show. Funny Pete Stuff (8:12) isa collection of bizarre promos for the series. There are also 2:53 minutes worth of Adult Swim Bumpers which aired to promote the series on television and a clip featuring the series' creators appearing at Dragon Con in Atlanta (8:27) where they field questions from the crowd before The Unknown Hinson performs live.
The first two Squidbillies came in nice two disc slipcover editions, this one is a single disc release that comes only in a standard keepcase. A minor complaint, but a complaint none the less (at least for those of us who nerd out over how things look next to one another on the shelves and have nothing better to do than to gripe about such things).
Like the two seasons that came before it, in short bursts, Squidbillies Vol. 3 is pretty hilarious even if it frequently goes for the gross out. The series won't be for all tastes, but you can say that about pretty much every Adult Swim show ever made, though those who can appreciate the raunchy and often times nasty humor that the series hands out in heaping wallops will find a lot to love about this latest collection. 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.