Their names were: Shake zula, the mic rula, the old schoola. If you wanted a trip, he’d bring it to ya. Frylock he was on top, rocked you like a cop. Meatwad was up next with his knock-knock. Meatwad, got the money see? Meatwad, got the honeys see? Drove in his car, lived like a star, ice on my toes and my fingers and I’m a Taurus. Cuz they were the Aqua Teens. They made the homies say ho and the girlies wanna scream.
Can you believe it? It’s been fifteen years since Cartoon Network aired “Rabbot”, and then had Aqua Teen Hunger Force as a flagship title for their daring new venture, Adult Swim. As it found its groove, the ten minute adventures of Master Shake, Frylock, Meatwad and their neighbor Carl got more violent, more surreal, yet stayed quite hilarious. It didn’t matter if Zombie Ninja Pro-AM was shit, or if their movie’s promotional campaign inadvertently started a bomb scare in Boston, the Aqua Teens remained. But now, Adult Swim president Mike Lazzo is ready to “move on from it”, despite creators Matt Maellaro and Dave Willis's desire to continue.
Well… nothing personal, Mike but….
Now to be sure, the last few seasons where the show was Something You Know Whatever and TV Show Show were showing that the series was kinda petering out. There was nothing truly offensive to the sensibilities of fans, there were no changed character dynamics or format, but the show didn’t seem like it was going much of anywhere. In a sense that was fine, since Aqua Teen Hunger Force never truly WENT anywhere, but it needed a spark that would pull it through another season or so. Unfortunately that spark only lasted those nine episodes of Aqua Teen Forever, and after August 30th, it was accomplished. No more new Aqua Teens. Those 139 episodes and a movie (outside of Soul Quest Overdrive and Carl’s Stone Cold Lock of the Century of the Week)? That’ll be all we’ve got unless somebody says otherwise.
…Ah well. Instead of moaning about it let’s celebrate the Aqua Teens through the most saturated way possible when it comes to TV shows on the Internet: A top episode list. Yeah maybe this has been done before, but everybody stops around 20 episodes. C’mon! The show’s been with us for 15 years. So to fill this void of lists beyond 20 episodes, this is “Aqua Integral Episode Project L”, where I choose 50 of the most important (actually favourite) episodes of the Aqua Teens. These are the episodes I think you can’t live without seeing, and help to define the series that has lasted as long as it did. Like any other list, this Is wholly based on opinion, but know this… My opinions are right, and everyone else’s is wrong and full of shit. If they say an inverted variation of that statement where it’s the other way around? Well… that’s a load of crap, and you should kick their ass if they insist otherwise.
So without further ado…
[Aqua Integral Episode Project L]
NUMBERS 50 - 41
50. Big Bro
“You’re not a child! You’re a choice!”
The season premiere of Aqua Something You Know Whatever brings love back to Frylock’s life, and of course he still sucks at it. Using a Big Brother program to get into the pants of some white trash mom, Frylock butts heads with Carl as they vie for her attention. Then there is a lot of banging.
The game of romance between Carl and Frylock is a hilariously one-sided affair. Frylock continues to show how much of a paper tiger he is; while Carl’s brusque homeliness is a major turn-on for the mom. Frylock wouldn’t even defend his new ward (Gerald’s his name for the record), when Carl turns incredibly antsy over a soapbox derby emulation of 2Wyckked! The ‘high’ road Frylock tries to take in this episode is as pathetic as it is chuckle-worthy. Then things kick up a notch when the ‘MILF’ gets pregnant and Carl has to be confronted with commitment. That ain’t gonna happen, as Frylock is desperate enough for that chunk of ass that he’ll bury Carl alive and marry her despite the pregnancy. A good turn for irresponsible losers this episode was. I guess Carl should be thankful that Frylock didn’t obliterate him with his eye lasers.
Shake and Meatwad do quite well here too. Shake accomplishes as much as he can (little really) trying to help Carl disappear and schooling Gerald at Chutes and Ladders. Meatwad thankfully stays back to share and enjoy the magic of pizza. Both then come together to confront the magic of abortion and the episode is all the more better with the inclusion of that hot topic (all twenty seconds of it).
49. Universal Remonster
”It’s the Fargate! F! It’s different from that movie which I’ve never seen. So how would I copy it!?”
The Plutonians have always been hit and miss antagonists for me. Episodes with them aren’t bad, but then again they aren’t very good either. Out of the big Plutonian episodes early on in the series, I find myself enjoying “Universal Remonster” the most out of all of them.
For reasons that will of course never be explained, the Plutonians decide to steal cable from the Aqua Teens. To facilitate this, they unleash the Universal Remonster, a nonthreatening creature made of remote controls filled with undefined powers including changing channels and levitation. The incompetence of the Plutonians is quite well-done here. You can’t really say no to Oglethorpe blasting his eyes out by accident (TWICE) because Emory is ordered not to label their secret weapons. More importantly, you can’t say to the faux muppet television programming that everybody is watching, as it slowly disintegrates into violence. Most importantly, you can’t really say no to half-hearted attempts to avoid copyright infringement either. Then again, how can the character next to the Universal Remonster on the Plutonians’ t-shirt be a Powerpuff Girl!? She has a mohawk and a wheelchair! You silly!
So is this episode. Silly, and that’s a good thing, especially with a hit and miss duo like Emory and Oglethorpe.
“I love women. And that’s why I pay them $40 to have sex with me for money.”
I’ve an inordinate fondness for this episode. When Carl attends anger management classes after defending himself from a hooker who bit his tongue, he makes a new ‘friend’. This ‘friend’, Lance, is a thin facsimile of Vince Offer from “ShamWow” fame, and if he isn’t shilling questionable products every other moment he’s talking, he’s a bad influence on Carl. He gets even more so, when it comes to motivating Carl to get that very delicious looking Four-Cheese Lasagna Shake left out on the yard.
I love the diabolical machinations of Shake in this episode. To satiate his boredom and to cause suffering, he will genuinely put effort in making a legit dish of lasagna just to taunt Carl. That’s just depraved in all the right ways, especially when there’s an electric fence prohibiting poor Carl from exiting his house. While the episode could’ve really laid it thick on Lance being obnoxious as all hell, they keep it to a minimum. It helps that his sociopathic solicitation of strange gadgets, from a lawnmowing shoe that makes potable foot sweat to a milkshake that can turn a body into one big ‘superbone’, are also quite amusing. It’s a nice convergence that helps bring the Carl to a self-esteem high, finally gaining the courage to grab that lasagna… Only to fall off the roof and break every bone in his body.
I wonder how Shake would do if he did the same thing to Garfield. Now that’d be fun.
47. The Clowning
“Well, KNOW THIS! If you're an object, don't ever cross me. I proved it to your window, I proved it to your CD player, I proved it to your record collection, and I will prove it to any—“
It’s always once in a blue moon when Carl gains confidence and almost sex. But since this is Aqua Teen Hunger Force, it comes at a high price. Carl’s new coiffure is instead a malevolent parasite that as time goes on, turns him into that most hideous of Satan’s creatures: the clown. This episode… is that slow descent into Hell, a place where the road to it is paved with laughs.
Even with this extra feature, Carl is still Carl, and seeing him try to impress a pretty used-up hooker is endearing as it is pathetic. His rock solo “I Wanna Rock Your Body (To the Break of Dawn)” is without compare and like various few second instances in other episodes is enough to put “The Clowning” on the list. Facetious I know, but then again watch the show, then come to this episode. Then when the metamorphosis comes on, it gets pretty grotesque in the best possible way. Seeing the nascent stages of it scaring off his hooker is terrific, and becomes even more so when Carl’s reaction is a bemused realization that his flip-flops seemed to be pretty tight.
Then when you think you’ll expect some grotesque, final, turn for Carl, the show introduces us to what will become a series trend: Frylock being a lousy long term planner. What could’ve been a violent end for Carl, only ends up with him being frozen and converted into a coat rack. You take Carl’s metamorphosis, that ending, some termites, and a dash of Science Fiction Shake and you’ve got a superb little number worth recommending.
46. Kidney Car
“Hey, I’m a wild man. I can’t drive 55.”
The murder of Carl’s car is not something new to Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but “Kidney Car” provides a markedly novel use for it post-murder. Totaled right from the start thanks to Shake’s participation in a demolition derby, Carl donates it to the Kidney Foundation for a possible tax write-off. However, because one Kidney Foundation participant, Meatwad, is a health hazard and doesn’t even REQUIRE a kidney, he takes Carl’s car in lieu of those organs.
Meatwad taking care of his new car goes just about as good as you expect it to. His seriousness over taking care of the car is very tempered by his humourous use of plastic tools, his inability to get Boxxy Brown to help him, and his penchant for ingesting car fluids. Then it gets ever weirder when it’s no longer certain if he knows that car isn’t working, as he ‘drives’ it all through the night. That’s okay, because the fact that fixing the car doesn’t go anywhere is what makes this episode great. Frylock’s a reasonable enough foil to the shenanigans, and Shake provides a good antagonist whether wielding a flashlight or donning a comically large State Patrol hat. The episode also firmly establishes that the Aqua Teens aren’t detectives anymore, and I believe the first instance of an actual walk cycle for Carl. Note how he leaves after “Kiss my Ultra Mega Ass!”
Then after that, relish once more the road to nowhere this episode drives on, right down to one of the best deaths to ever befall Carl. Why did it have to happen that way, you may ask? Why wouldn’t it?
“Shut the word hole in your face before I fill it with angry diarrhea!”
Aqua TV Show Show has the unfortunate distinction of being the only one of the differently titled seasons to have just ONE episode on the list. Fortunately, it’s a hell of an episode. After Shake suffers from a stroke, he decides to turn his life around… for about a minute. Carl then gives him another shortcut solution by way of an energy drink, Thump (Now in Blueberry Buttrape!). You’d think it’d then focus on a roid raging Shake as he destroys everything in his path to power. Instead his muscles come to life, become voiced by John DiMaggio, and proceed to verbally and physically abuse everybody that stands in his way.
That pretty much sells the episode. I don’t think I need to say anything more. John DiMaggio, violence, and Aqua Teen… It’s a perfect convergence that needs no explanation but a deserved spot on the list.
44. The Granite Family
“I don’t like going back to the past… It rides up on me.”
In another lampooning of classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Shake’s confusion with reruns of The Granite Family imbues him with the idea that in order to properly get it, he has to remake the world in their image. How? By nuclear war with the Russians, of course.
Shake’s strange obsession with The Granite Family is quite a highlight of this episode. He tries to play vinyl with a contaminated dead bird and he desperately attempts low quality variations of “It’s a living!” as stated by animal devices. It helps to complement the very sordid disposition Meatwad, Frylock, and Carl are in, as they try to make do with what little resources Carl has in his Mancave/Bomb shelter. Carl’s a top-flight Doomsday prepper by the way, he as a keg of beer and enough of a surround system to listen to his music during the end of days. Don’t even get me started on the flattering Time Warner, who goes back to the past to merely warn people that if he uses anything he owns he will sue them.
I think it must be the Porky Pig-esque voice he’s got, never mind his friendship with a very familiar looking fox (“Sundays at nine!”). Or maybe it apparently has to do with some guy named Shawn McFerline. I think he was going to revive some plagiarism of The Granite Family during this episode’s production in real life. If I remember correctly, he failed on that. Oh well, at least we’ll have the real “Granite Family” to remember forever.
43. Super Computer
“Superior Galactic Grandma after eating a block of cheese, smokin’ three packs of cigarettes, and drinking a quart of milk. Disgusting, that’s the word!”
After the second botched attempt to kickstart his revolutionary computer, the OoGhiJ MIQtxxXA (apparently Klingon for ‘Superior Galactic Intelligence’), disappears, Frylock in… some fortune comes across it again. Unfortunately, it’s now in the possession of a 300 million or so year old caveman named Oog, who’d rather have “Kick ass fighting games with action missiles” on the device than give it back.
Oog’s one of the more memorable characters in the series. Common cartoon logic would have him be an upright citizen by the time he visits the Aqua Teens. Instead, for all his superior intelligence, he hasn’t quite mastered the concept of syntax never mind culled his more primal instincts. The poorly tied neck tie, the underwear supported by a bungee cord, and his horrific toenails may be nice, but his spasms of violence and self-harm due to boredom and fire make this episode. Also making the episode is Shake’s constant attempts to convince Meatwad that Oog’s his dad, the overwhelming might of “Soltar” (pronounced “Solitaire” for some reason), and Meatwad’s elongated description of “Clam Digger”.
Pretty solid all things considered. You even learn that it’s probably not for the best to pay a prostitute $200 in pennies for sex. Cartoons rarely do that for you (Well there was that one Dexter’s Lab episode, but that’s for kids. We’re adults; we need something more to our aesthetic!)
42. Unremarkable Voyage
“Hey boy, you said it was a chip! So where’s the dip? Or am I lookin’ at him!?”
In a series like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, where there is a resident scientist, more than likely there is going to be a shrinking episode during its run. Well, this series doesn’t disappoint. After Meatwad eats a computer chip Frylock shrank with his new shrink gun, it is up to the resident scientist to go inside and retrieve it. He never does.
Seeing Shake go mad with power as he shrinks and enlarges whatever (or whoever) he damn well pleases is always a gas. Having him pitch a fight between Carl and Frylock for a crude mountain drawing on a diorama is always amusing. It is even more so when Carl is incentivized with the chance to enhance his favourite body part. Then when you think things will die down, they undertake a pretty cruel venture upon Shake, getting into his brain and forcing him to do horrible things to himself. After his actions beforehand, it is expected, well-deserved, and quite funny.
Plus … vomit humour. The animation for Shake when he purges a drink meant for Meatwad is memorable in how over-the-top it is, capping off with a great final line (“My teeth feel gritty... And I’m gonna lie down!”). In fact, I think this episode is the only time you’ll ever see that, so that’s another reason to watch.
41. She Creature
“Carl’s gonna be so happy. And surprised. And then happy. And then surprised. And then happy. And then surprised. And then the surprise will wear off cuz he will have seen it for a time… But he’ll still be happy.”
For the past few seasons before this episode, Carl’s pool undergoes a dramatic decrease in quality. The usual, chlorine-imbued, above-ground pool of early Aqua Teen transforms into an infested, disease-ridden, swamp. It becomes corrupted enough that a malevolent creature inhabits it now, and provides a service to the mob by way of consuming dead bodies.
This episode provides a nice slow burn that builds up to a great reveal. The first part works due to it providing another reflection of Carl, that of a lousy gambling man. Like Shake, he operates under the delusion things will eventually go his way, even so far as to put bets on Ladies’ Billiards. It’s amusing to see Carl get physically and mentally abused by the Aqua Teens, and it’s just as amusing when he is emasculated on the spot by bigger men. The Aqua Teens also are top flight around these parts as Meatwad deets, Frylock investigates, and Shake miscalculates a jump and lands on the hard ground.
The second part? It’s filled with deep emotional meaning that only a very well made water jet to your crotch can generate. Then comes the final reveal of the creature inhabiting Carl’s pool, and from there comes Death. Then death. Then even more death. The episode just comes to a standstill with every main character except Shake dead. Then it lingers, you wonder what happens… Then boom, he’s dead too! Not a bad way to finally clean up Carl’s pool, even if it did end up with everyone dead.
See you tomorrow for Numbers 40-31. Until then, we cut to commercial!