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Marc Mason is a freelance writer based in Tempe, AZ.

Thursday, August 12, 2004  
The Best Show On TV

As the summer months continue to pass, and TV continues to sink further and further into the morass (Thanks, Fox!) I find that there are really only three programs that are must viewing for me, a total of two hours a week that I don't want to miss. Those are some slim pickings, considering how many channels I have.

I've discussed THE AMAZING RACE already. BEST WEEK EVER is a televised form of crack cocaine, stunningly addictive in its blythe and withering looks at our popular culture. I sort of consider it an inspiration to this column. But right now, I cannot imagine a better show on television than the brilliant, subversive, and non-sequitor laden SEALAB 2021 on the Cartoon Network.

The geniuses behind the "Adult Swim" block of programming came up with a doozy on this one. Taking one of the worst cartoons of all time (SEALAB 2020) and fucking up the characters and premise, each episode is a bizarre and senseless bit of perfect pop culture that tickles the brain as well as the funny bone.

Season one's "All That Jazz" might just be one of the single best pieces of animation ever made. It opens with Captain Murphy entering a highly secured chamber in Sealab, only for the audience to discover that the chamber simply contains the soda machine. However, the machine steals his money, and in an attempt to free his soda, the achine tips over and lands on the Captain, crushing his ribs. And that's where the real fun begins.

For no apparent reason, of course, there's a scorpion in the room, and it begins to taunt him mercilessly, stinging him randomly. Trust me- it's appallingly funny. Then the soda machine begins to randomly fire sodas at Murphy's head, knocking out his teeth. Honest- it's a pants wetter. Now here's where it gets completely off-the-hook bizarre: the rest of the crew has left Sealab and gone to a concert, and rather than return, they go on tour as roadies for the band, which leaves Murphy trapped beneath the machine... for fourteen months.

The episode's brilliance explodes from there. There's a cleaning robot (the same robot that was with the good guys in the awful Disney sci-fi flick THE BLACK HOLE) that keeps coming into the room and cleaning up Murphy's teeth, and it begins to make a necklace out of them. Murphy begins to be able to communicate with the scorpion, allowing it to lay its eggs in his naval and becoming addicted to the sting/venom. He also begins to have flashbcks to his childhood as the son of a carny. And right now, you think I've lost my mind.

However, I'm serious. Not only does this mess stick together in awe-inspiring fashion, it elicits huge laughs at every turn. For these amazing writers to turn out material this clever, time after time, is truly a rare feat. I honestly never get tired of watching and re-watching these tasty little masterpieces, and I recommend that more people get on the bandwagon. All you need is a bit of a twisted sense of humor and about ten minutes of your time.

6:32 PM

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