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Superjail! The Complete Season - Review

REVIEWS - DVD REVIEWS

It's weird, funny, serious and best enjoyed after midnight...

Superjail - complete season

Hit or miss, shows that feature on Adult Swim all have one thing in common and Superjail!’s inventive, surreal and slightly warped sense of humour neatly slots into the proverbial back catalogue.

Confusingly set inside a volcano inside a volcano on a remote island, Superjail! charts the exploits of the megalomaniacal prison warden, a zany sadistic less whimsical version of Willy Wonka; his recovering alcoholic accountant, Jared; Jailbot; Alice, the guard and the mysterious and pesky twins who seem to be hell-bent on destroying any plans the warden has.

Superjail! follows its own unique dimensions of time, space and reality but each episode is grounded in a memorable and inventive opening sequence that sees a sloppy criminal called Jacknife being arrested in a whole array of dodgy scenarios before being helicoptered to Superjail!. After Jacknife is once again incarcerated, each episode focuses on rectifying a problem inside the prison or one of the warden's own personal concerns before descending into imaginative murder en masse and psychedelic mayhem.


"Each episode feels like a music video, making the show perfect background noise for less serious viewing"


While Superjail! isn't high on big laughs, its ability to arouse a snigger through some of the ingenious characterisation and slightly obvious corny lines (“I think the warden has been penetrating my head with his organ”, “Looks like the vegetable patch got their salad tossed”…) make it easy late night viewing for those returning from a night out. Each episode feels like a music video, making the show perfect background noise for less serious viewing.

Personal character favourites are the blonde jump-suited monobrow twins who sound like a cross between Dr Evil squared and Jam’s distinctive emotionless voice, inexplicably accompanied by disco music. Another memorable character is the ultra-violent Alice, who has a disturbingly deep voice, blonde hair, the physique of a world champion body builder and in unlady-like positions occasionally exposes “her” balls. Much to the warden’s annoyance, she refuses to date co-workers but has no qualms about prisoners, although they are less enthusiastic about her as one prisoner is seen beheading himself rather than play Alice’s gimp.

Much of the animation has a King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-Head feel to it interspersed with occasional snippets of live action and Yellow Submarine rainbow-coloured dream sequences. The plot premise of each episode becomes increasingly less coherent like a dreamer gradually rejoining the conscious world, slowly departing from a deranged nightmare land where the skeletons of live people can be used as giant bow and arrows. Breaking from the pattern, the last two episodes of the series “Time Police 1/2” follow a chronological story, less effectively acting as stand-alones. Favourite particularly depraved episodes include: Dream Machine, Terrorarium and Mr Grumpy-Pants.


"The show's greatest appeal is its catchy theme tune and clever homage to a whole array of pop culture"


Superjail!'s technicoloured world and light-hearted script detract from the extreme violence making for inexplicably light-hearted airy entertainment. Although much of the humour is the result of unlikely pairings, like the inmates playing naked twister, corpse Tetris or a jail full of prisoners dressed in furry rabbit and wolf onesies, amid all the insanity Superjail! occasionally makes serious, albeit brief, comments on society through the use of satire mocking and questioning the existence of things like pyramid schemes, the Nazis treatment of the Jews and scientology.

The show's greatest appeal is its catchy theme tune (“Comin' Home”) and clever homage to a whole array of pop culture from Gulliver's Travels to The Running Man, Escher's artwork, The Incredible Hulk, War of the Worlds, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Alice in Wonderland and Ghostbusters, so for a wacky ride commit yourself to Superjail!

3 stars

EXTRAS:
The inclusion of the pilot, “Bunny Love”, partially explains the premise for the show and is the only acknowledgment of the existence of the twins. The music video for “Comin’ Home” features character stills and scenes from the series interspersed with band members rocking out. The animatic draft sequences for “Bunny Love”, “Super Bar” and “Time Police 1/2” are interesting in that they show how the animation develops from monochrome raw sketches to the final product. Each episode shows different degrees of colour usage, shading, sound inclusion and some show queue cards for the ordering of sketches. Trailers for Deathlock, guest starring Metallica's James Hetfield, Robot Chicken, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Harvey Birdman are also included. Overall special features are a little skimpy – it would be nice to gain some insight into the warped brains behind Superjail!.

Special Features: Including never-released-before music video “Comin’ Home” by Cheeseburger (the show’s soundtrack), the pilot episode “Bunny Love”, some animatic draft sequences and trailers.

2 stars

Superjail! is released on April 12th


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