Adult Swim's completely odd but enduringly popular series Superjail! is now back on DVD in its third volume. Produced by Augenblich Studios, the studio that brought us the ultra-twisted Wonder Showzen and the thoroughly enjoyable Nickelodeon Series, Yo Gabba Gabba, this is yet more of the completely unpredictable and random insanity that was spawned in the first two volumes.
The basic 'formula' for each episode hasn't really changed much from the first season, but for those who haven't seen the show, what the Hell is Superjail! all about? Each episode starts off with a running gag (kind of like the first few seasons of Aqua Teen Hunger Force did) where a white trash hillbilly crook named Jackknife (Christy Karacas) commits some sort of crime only to be captured and whisked away to a massive super jail by a robot named Jailbot. Once Jackknife is in the super jail, all bets are off and the episodes don't generally revolve around him but instead tend to focus on The Warden (David Wain), his right hand man named Jared (Teddy Cohn), and a transvestite prison guard named Alice (Christy Karacas again). There are a few other recurring characters who appear in the series, such as the German Doctor who tends to use the inmates for experiments, and two odd twins (both voiced by Richard Mahler) who have powers all their own and sort of just wander around the jail causing various problems. There are also two gay inmates, a black guy and a white guy, who, along with Jackknife, seem to somehow manage to not get killed by the end of each episode. The rest of the inmates? Well, they're more or less cannon fodder.
There's a bit more story development this time around compared to the first season, a trend that started in the second season and which obviously continues here. That's not a bad thing at all, if it tones down the absurdity ever so slightly it results in a little bit of continuity and gives us a bit more to latch onto in some regards. For the most part though, it's business as usual and fans of the series likely wouldn't have it any other way.
Superjail! Season Three includes the following episodes:
Uh-Oh, It's Magic
The Trouble With Triples
Burn Stoolie Burn
A few stand out episodes from this season? Okay, sure. Let's start with the opener, which takes up where the last season's final episode left off. Lord Stingray and Mistress have taken over the prison, no co-ed, and The Warden winds up Mistress' plaything once Stingray dumps her. This is a fine plan until The Warden shows his true colors and instantly turns her off. It's a fun episode, kinky and chaotic and violent as the best episodes in the show tend to be. The Warden also plays a key role in Superfail. When Jerry knocks him out, he has to takeover running the prison lest it fall into complete chaos. He's not good at it, and things go from bad to worse very quickly. In Sticky Discharge one of the prisoners, for the first time ever, is let out on parole and the staff of the prison don't quite know what to do about all of this. In Special Needs The Warden shows his politically correct side when he tries to make the prison more hospitable to those with handicaps and then after that as he tries to set into motion new plans for the prison The Twins get some surprise visitors that once again throws a wrench into his plans. By the time Burn Stoolie Burn hits your screen, if your mind hasn't melted well, you'll be treated to an episode in which our friend The Warden learns a little bit about the importance of kindness.
If you're not already a fan of the series, this isn't the season that will change your mind. Even with the slightly more involved character development it still feels very much like the two seasons that came before it. So with that said, if you're already a fan or new to the series and wanting to give it a shot, this should float your boat. Watching each and every episode back to back can be a chore and like most Adult Swim series, it's best enjoyed in the short doses it's broadcast on TV in rather than marathon style. The character design is still both disgusting and remarkably detailed, there's loads of stuff going on in any given set up that the series has a bit more replay value than you might at first think. There's a lot of great use of color here too, and the music is also a big part in what makes this work. The voice actors all perform with enthusiasm and at this point in the game, they have their character quirks nailed down.
Superjail! Season Three arrives on DVD in a series of good 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfers that look pretty much exactly the same as the first season episodes did - which is a good thing. The 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 about as good as the animation style employed will allow. 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 Cheeseburger's opening theme song sound great with some very distinct electric guitar noticeable in the track. Everything is properly balanced, the levels are fine. You'll notice some pretty channel separation in a few of the more chaotic scenes featured in each episode and some rear channel action as well. The directional effects add to the insanity of it all. Subtitles are provided in English only.
Extras are a bit on the slim side but we get eleven minutes worth of animatics for two episodes (episodes one and seven). As well as some Rough Cuts which is basically test footage for another two episodes (episodes six and ten). Aside from that, there an Introstring highlight reel which is six minutes long and is a compilation of the ten different sequences that precede the opening credits of each episode in which Jackknife gets arrested. The disc also contains static menus and episode selection. A 'play all' button is also there off the main menu for those who want it.
It's a little short on extras compared to seasons past but the audio and video presentation are still pretty solid. As to the show, it's chaotic and crass and crazy and all over the map, but its unpredictability keeps it fun to watch and the art and use of color is consistently wild. It won't change your mind if you don't already dig the show but if you're a fan of the series consider Superjail! Volume Three 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.