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Warner Home Video presents
Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume Four (2004)

Frylock: This is the same toilet seat that you sat on at that gas station in Branson and it's covered with hypnogerms!
Master Shake: That is a lie and you are a liar for saying that. I've never been to Branson in my life.

- Carey Means, Dana Snyder

Review By: Nate Meyers   
Published: December 05, 2005

Stars: Dana Snyder, Carey Means, Dave Willis
Other Stars: Andy Merrill, Mike Schatz, Matt Maiellaro, Vishal Roney, Nick Ingkatanuwat, George Lowe, Michael D. Hanks, Ted Nugent, mc chris, "Big" S, Ashley Ward, Akhenaton Nickens, Veronica Billingsley, Vance Hammersly, Eric Wareheim, Timothy Heidecker, Beverly Carter, Todd Hanson, Maria Schneider, Carol Kolb, Joe Garden, Chris Karwowski, Stewart Breihut, Kim Manning, Jennifer Stephens, Amanda Marks, Lisa Willis
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (graphic cartoon violence, bleeped out swear words, crude subject matter, sexual references)
Run Time: 02h:29m:37s
Release Date: December 06, 2005
UPC: 053939686128
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- B-B+A- B-

DVD Review

It's probably a safe bet that Aqua Teen Hunger Force is the weirdest show on television. This cartoon, airing as part of the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup, features three fast food icons (Master Shake, Meatwad, and Frylock) in the leading roles of a show with seemingly no aim. The writing doesn't tell any stories in the conventional sense, nor does it offer any insights into society or the cast of characters. The 13 episodes assembled for Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume Four dance between the macabre, blasphemy, and postmodern references to pop culture while always assembling a string of laughs and shocks.

The season begins with Video Ouija, where Meatwad is entranced by a video game that allows him to communicate with the dead. Shake sees his roommate's game play as the perfect opportunity to launch an attack from beyond the grave. Thus, the impulsive Shake commits suicide by popping pills and jumping into his neighbor Carl's pool, which he filled with piranhas. Unfortunately, Shake's plans are interrupted by Meatwad's refusal to play the game any longer on account of the various ghosts complaining to him about child care. It seems that Shake will be stuck in the game forever until...the next episode, Unremarkable Voyage, which picks up as if the events just mentioned never happened. This time the wise inventor Frylock has created a ray that will increase and decrease objects and must be injected into Meatwad in order to retrieve a computer chip. Unfortunately, Shake uses the ray to treat his friends as toys and play God. Normally such a story would end with a moral about personal conduct, but creators Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro aren't concerned with such traditional storytelling and instead end the episode with the shrunken Meatwad, Frylock, and Carl turning the tables on Shake and playing God in turn.

In a sense, the show's unconventional twists and turns are becoming tiresome, is if the writers are trying too hard to out-weird themselves. Take, for instance, eDork, where Shake buys a new advanced cell phone that makes the cells of 1987 look puny. When Carl also gets a phone, he uses it to watch bestiality porn, but the jokes fall flat as he rambles on about the images. Call me a prude, but human-animal intercourse never tickles my funny bone. Another miscalculation in the writing happens in T-Shirt of the Dead. Meatwad wears an ancient Egyptian shirt that allows him the ability to will anything into being, but things go awry when Santa comes to town and is nearly burned to death by a fire-breathing Easter Egg Monster. The animation lingers far too long on the horribly disfigured body of Santa and created a great discomfort in my gut, failing to capitalize on any potential humor from the episode's general plotline.

Yet, there are some genuine moments of humor and creativity. Gee Whiz takes some pointed jabs at religious devotion to supposed apparitions, with Meatwad and Shake believing Jesus makes an appearance on a gun shop's billboard. The skeptical Frylock doesn't believe in this miracle, even while Meatwad appears to be carrying a new savior. Accompanied by a wonderful surprise ending, this is a highlight of the fourth season. Another great episode is Diet, in which the overweight, lethargic Carl sheds the pounds thanks to the "South Bronx Paradise" diet. If you think Atkins is unhealthy, wait until you find out the secret to Carl's too-good-to-be-true health bar. Another fantastic installment features Shake under the spell of hypnogerms in Hypno-germ. He picks up the deadly germs from a toilet seat in Branson, but is more concerned about the damage to his reputation if he admits to traveling there than he is about the germs overtaking his mind and talking him into suicide. Watching the germs infiltrate Shake's mind as he becomes delusional and carries on conversations with filing cabinets is absolutely hilarious.

There's also the addition of Spacecataz, taking the place of Dr. Weird at the beginning of each episode. Featuring the Plutonians and Mooninites in an epic, inter-galactic war for the ages consisting of prank phone calls, graffiti concerning flatulence, and Pluto's Oglethorpe ordering 50 million pizzas to be delivered to the Mooninites. The space opera could make a great spin-off show and is a refreshing new ingredient to Aqua Teen Hunger Force, giving a break from the show's obsession with the macabre and indulging the audience in a dash of light silliness. Maybe my love of New Jersey's fast food trio is fading as their stories become more absurd and, thus, I find more joy in this new breed of inconsequential characters and stories. I still enjoy the Aqua Teens, but not nearly as much as when I was a teen myself.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The 1.33:1 original broadcast ratio is well preserved on this DVD, with each episode looking as good as can be expected. The animation doesn't offer many opportunities, and I detected a bit of edge enhancement around the Mooninites, but otherwise this is a good picture with vibrant colors.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix offers a very enjoyable, dynamic listening experience. Sound separation and directionality are frequent and never distracting, with dialogue always being audible and the music permeating the room from all directions nicely.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
14 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Documentaries
9 Feature/Episode commentaries by Matt Maiellaro, Dana Snyder, Dave Willis, and many more
Packaging: 2 disc slip case
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Easter Eggs—two video clips of outtakes and a concert.
  2. San Diego Must Be Destroyed 2004—a presentation of the publicity spot featured at the San Diego Comic Book Convention.
  3. Spacecataz—the complete episode as originally written.
  4. Raydon—a short film made by Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro.
  5. F-Art—a slideshow of concept art.
Extras Review: The bulk of the set's special features can be found on Disc 2, though nine of the 13 episodes have an optional audio commentary. I'd love to tell you who is providing the commentary, but I honestly have little clue who is talking 99% of the time. It seems that the nine episode commentaries were all recorded continuously at some party, or convention, with only a few spots featuring traditional, sound studio recordings. Rarely does anybody introduce himself and many of the comments have little to do with the actual episode, but tend to focus on either irrelevant information concerning the party or half-assed philosophical comparisons between Master Shake and Nietzsche. Personally, I found these "commentaries" to be rather tedious and infuriating because it's difficult to discern what is being said and, once I finally figured it out, it never seemed to merit the effort. Also, when you select the "play all" function, it literally plays all 13 episodes simultaneously. Over on Disc 2, the "play none" function performs the same feat.

The second disc contains a decent number of extras, plus two easter eggs that I found. In terms of the listed extras, things kick off with Funny Pete Stuff, a collection of thirteen 30-second TV spots promoting the show. Some of them are clever, especially when an aging white man sings the show's rap theme song, while others aren't quite as humorous. Following that is San Diego Must Be Destroyed 2004 (03m:02s), which premiered at the San Diego Comic Book Convention to promote the upcoming season. This is a rather hilarious piece, with Shake and the Mooninites competing for screen time. A great extra is Spacecataz (09m:42s), the complete episode of the Mooninite-Plutonian war in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound with an ending not shown during the fourth season's run.

Another entry in the filmography of Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro is Raydon (11m:30s). This short film spoofs the horror genre quite effectively, as Dave must confront the horror of radon in his basement. After that is an extensive slideshow of various merchandise and conceptual art drawings for the show called F-Art (12m:15s). Following that is the documentary The Faces in Front of the Throats That Make the Voices That Speak into the Microphone (21m:18s). Each of the actors is shown recording their part(s) for Spacegate World, with alternate takes and also some snippets of the directing and sound conversion process. It doesn't offer any tremendous insight, but I enjoyed seeing the actors read their lines.

Rounding out the listed special features is Send Us Money for This (00m:39s), a teaser for the upcoming Aqua Teen Hunger Force: The Movie made in the mold of the Adult Swim TV commercials. As for the easter eggs, both are found on the episode index page. The first is accessed by hitting the up arrow when on Diet, and highlights a hidden guitar. Click on it and you'll find a video clip (03m:49s) of Dave Willis and Dana Snyder playing a song for an audience of fans and playing kazoos. The second is found by hitting the up arrow when on the guitar icon. Click on the now highlighted Mooninite face and you discover a video (05m:40s) of Raydon outtakes and behind-the-scene stills. Apart from the annoying commentaries, the extras here are a fairly entertaining (though hardly informative) bag of goodies.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

While my appreciation for Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume Four is not as enthusiastic as it was for the earlier DVD sets, there are still numerous laughs in these 13 episodes that should please fans. The sound mix and image transfer make for an enjoyable viewing experience.

 


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