There's gotta be another disc's worth of stuff around here
The Story So Far...
The prolific Strong Bad e-mails are probably the most popular part of the Chapman Brothers' output, but there's much more to enjoy, including a wealth of spin-off concepts and short cartoons. The first volume of Everything Else collected some of the best of the non-e-mail material, including the excellent "Teen Girl Squad" series and the adorable puppet episodes. That compilation didn't leave the cupboard bare for Volume 2, but it certainly set the bar rather high.
The most important segments included in this set are the annual Halloween cartoons, which are consistently some of the funniest the site serves up. From the sometimes obscure 1980s costumes to the trick or treat games to the pumpkin carving contest to the fan costume photos (with Strong Bad commentary,) these are brilliantly entertaining. If you've never seen them, the guessing games over what exactly that odd yellow shirt is supposed to be are as fun as the stories.
The Decemberween collection doesn't have the same comedic punch as the Halloween bits, but there are some gems, including "Decemberween in July," a quartet of Decemberween cartoons, featuring a "Teen Girl Squad" show, a visit to the surreal world of Sweet Cuppin' Cakes and a meeting between Puppet Homestar and a Santaman. A bunch of additional holiday cartoons follow, though the holiday label is applied loosely. The best of the bunch is the laconic "Senorial Day" ad with disturbing pedo-esque Senor Cardgage.
The assortment of shorts included, which includes everything but the latest bits from the "Big Toons" menu, is good, but these have rarely been among the better material from the site. It might be the length that drags them down, but they never seem as hilarious as the other cartoons. The only must-see bits are "A Jorb Well Done," featuring Coach Z's amusing speech impediment, and "The Luau," which is one of the sillier episodes among the "Big Toons." Also from the site, in a way, is the "Museum" collection, which features old bits of animation, including the first cartoons and books, the original Mario Paint film, and a pair of cartoons that have been removed from the site, "Marshmallow's Last Stand" and "A Jumping Jack Contest." These are good for historical value, but they simply aren't very good.
The one section I could do without is "The Cheat Commandos." Yes, I think the Cheat is adorable, and yes, I think the parody of "G.I. Joe" and the '80s toy/cartoon schemes is very smart, but I just can't get into these cartoons. I'm not sure why either. Perhaps it's because the cartoons lost their parody focus. Either way, there's an exclusive adventure included on this disc, which is a parody of "Dragon's Lair." "Blue Laserdisc Challenge" allows you to play the same way the old game worked, choosing a direction to move at each obstacle or fork in the road. It's not very involved, but is short enough that trying all the options won't take you long. Maybe if I like the Commandos more, it would have been better.
The soundtrack is a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, with the dialogue, music and sound effects coming across cleanly, without any distortion. There's some surprisingly dynamic moments, where sound shifts from side to side to give more depth to the mix, but for the most part it's right down the middle and does a good jorb.
But wait...that's not all. Using your audio button, you can find 32 commentary tracks from the Chapman brothers, singer Peter Olsen, producer Ryan Sterritt, Homestar and Strong Bad. (There are over 50 cartoons on the disc, so the tracks are somewhat randomly placed.) The tracks range from silly to informative, but should appeal to fans of the series, as the sense of humor is the same. Some cartoons are too short for much to be said, but the participants make it work, including the in-character tracks. You can also find the easter eggs that appear on the site after the episodes, by clicking on the HR logo that appears. If you watch using the play all option though, they will not appear, nor will the commentaries.
The Bottom Line