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 were Aqua Teen Hunger Force but are now, for reasons never really explained, Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1. This name change, and the fact that the series' creators said they were shifting the action from New Jersey to Seattle, caused much uproar on internet forums around the world but let's be honest here - it was all part of the joke. Nothing has changed here outside of the new opening intro (featuring music from Josh Homme), which isn't a bad thing - the gang still live in the same house and Carl is still their neighbor, we just get a text line that says 'Seattle' instead of New Jersey at the bottom of the screen (though it should be noted that the disc labeled Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1 actually contains the last batch of episodes from Aqua Teen Hunger Force that didn't make it to the last set and vice versa - so the discs are basically backwards.
At any rate, they've been entertaining those of us with cable on The Cartoon Network's Adult Swim program for a decade 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. Remember how the media jumped on that? That was funny. At any rate, 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 was that at a year or so ago there was an Aqua Teen Hunger Force - Live! concert touring the country.
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...
The episodes that make up this collection are spread out across the two discs in the set as follows:
Allen Part 1 & 2: This two part episode begins when the group renames themselves Aqua Unit Patrol Squad and Shake tries to get his two partners to help him find some mysteries to solve - but there aren't any. So Shake decides that the three of them should go into a sleep chamber for nine years, but Frylock and Meatwad sneak out, leaving Shake in the sleep chamber alone where an alien plants itself on his face and has sex with him for the better part of a decade. When Shake wakes up, he realizes that a lot has changed in the world and that it's now controlled by an alien named Allen who forces everyone to be nice to one another.
Freedom Cobra: In his ongoing quest to score with the ladies, Shake decides that he'll up his cool factor by getting a tattoo. The work gets done on his back and Shake is keen on showing off his patriotic cobra skin art, but it turns out that the tattoo is able to take control of him and make him eat people.
The Intervention: When Carl gets busted for drunk driving and has a breathalyzer installed into his sweet ride, 2 Wycked, he befriends Meatwad so that Meatwad can pass the test and get the car to start. The pair goes on a drunken rampage around town while Frylock tries to convince Carl to give his life to Jesus.
The Creditor: Master Shake becomes fast friends with The Creditor, who is basically a Predator monster who works collections, and sends him out to rip the spinal cords out of people that he doesn't like. When he tries to rip Meatwad's spine out, it turns out that he doesn't have one. Confusion ensues.
Vampirus: When the Aqua Teens' landlord, Markula, shows up with a horde of bloodsucking vampires in tow, everyone is shocked to see that Master Shake seems immune to their bites. Frylock figures there must be something about Shake's DNA that wards off vampires and tries to figure out how to extract that in hopes of getting rid of the vampires.
Last Dance For Napkin Lad: Shake freaks out when a bunch of skeletons start attacking the Squad. As they do battle with the skeletons, we learn that Carl is actually a super secret spy who has been trailing and reporting on our three heroes for years now (which explains why he kinda-sorta puts up with them).
Wi-Tri: Frylock gets a smartphone called a Wi-Tri that looks like a triangular Rubics Cube. Shake, not to be outdone, decides he needs one too. When Frylock and Shake leave their phones alone together, they mate and soon enough there are hundreds and then thousands of Wi-Tri's who are hell-bent on changing everything in the world into triangular shapes. Carl tries to use his Wi-Tri to turn his old mother into a triangle.
Jumpy George: Shake and Carl are out cruising for chicks when they meet a hottie in a parking lot who doesn't seem completely terrified of them. They compete for her affections and she agrees to date them but needs someone to look after her two kids. Meatwad plays babysitter and it all hits the fan when the Mooninites appear.
Lasagna: In an ongoing (at least ongoing throughout this episode) gag, Shake makes delicious lasagna and places it in areas where Carl, who is crazy for lasagna, will be able to see and smell it. This gives Shake leverage over Carl so that he can basically play pranks on him and make him do what he wants him to do.
A PE Christmas:Shake gets inspired to release his own Christmas album and so he commits identity theft and he and Meatwad pose as Flavor Flav and Chuck D. from Public Enemy. They go into the studio to record their album, 'A PE Christmas,' which eventually gets back to the real Chuck D. who warns Shake about the eels that live in his dumpster which will go into his anus if he's not careful.
Hands On A Hamburger: There's no food around the house so Shake decides that the Aqua Teens need to enter a contest to win a giant hamburger - all they have to do is hold their hands against the giant hamburger longer than anyone else. Shake cheats so that he can win, which angers Carl - and then Mr. Wongburger shows up.
iAmaPod: Shakes makes a mistake while shopping for an iPod and buys an iAmaPod which is a strange pod monster that quickly becomes his best friend until he tries to clone Shake. When shake resists he makes his way backstage at a Chickenfoot concert and clones Michael Anthony instead.
Juggalo: When Shake kills someone by dropping a brick off of a highway overpass, the dead man appears to him as an angel and starts harassing him. In order to make the angel go away, Shake figures he needs a demon so he places a want ad and winds up hiring a fourteen year old Juggalo named Nealzebub who just wants Shake to buy him beer and drive him to the Insane Clown Posse concert.
Kangarilla And The Magic Tarantula: Shake and Frylock become absolutely obsessed with a video game on a smart phone and start to focus solely on that and ignore everything around them. This poses a problem for Meatwad when ghosts start showing up all over the place.
Larry Miller Hair System: When Larry Mill appears to Carl to show him how his life would have been different if he hadn't gone bald by way of a high tech simulation, Carl decides to clean up his act and do something to change his life for the better by ruining the life of alternate reality Carl.
One Hundred: The last ATHF episode finds Frylock obsessing over the number 100 while voice actor Dana Snyder pops out of Master Shake during a meeting with some TV executives. When shake gets back home, a giant 100 shaped monster (as in the monster is shaped like the number) voiced by Tom Savini shows up and sends the three Aqua Teens into an alternate reality where they have to unmask a monster in a haunted house, Scooby-Doo style.
All in all, it's safe to say that if you've enjoyed the series so far you'll enjoy this latest collection of episodes. Don't let the name change fool you, this is still the same series that fans have grown to know and love and the same sense of bizarre humor that made it the hit that it is still runs rampant throughout the show. There are some absolutely hilarious episodes included here, some of the best from the last few years of the show really, and the unpredictability of the show seems to have been ramped up a notch from the last collection. The series will always have its detractors and that's fine, it really isn't a show for all tastes and you need a fairly skewed sense of humor to appreciate it - but for those who do, waste no time adding this set to your collection.
The video quality of this most recent collection of episodes doesn't differ in quality much from the ones 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 Unit Patrol Squad 1: Season One 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 are a couple of Easter Eggs on the first disc in addition to some menus and episode selection. The second disc includes Terror Phone III (the third part in the bizarre live action Terror Phone sketchs that was in the extras section on Volume Six) but aside from that, there's not much else here. Considering that some of the earlier sets have been pretty packed with extras, it's a bit disappointing, really.
Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1: Season One is light on extras but it looks good and sounds even better and the episodes themselves are consistently screwed up and funny. This won't convince those who don't like the show to change their mind, but it will certainly satiate the series' fan base and to that fan base this release comes highly 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.