Sealab 2021: Season 1 (2000)
Genre: Animation Sci-Fi Comedy Series
Starring: Harry Goz, Erik Estrada ("CHiPs")
Directed By: Adam Reid, Matt Thompson
Overview: In this updated modern revisiting of the 1972 Series "Sealab 2020", we see a far more farcical and... adult comedy, of scientists living under water, doing... who knows what.
Acting: The voice acting is over-the-top crazy. Yelling and screaming, freaking out old men squealing childishly, while Erik Estrada leans thick on the Spanish Hombre accent. The occasional guest star seems to be given even more slack and either act like complete stereotypes of themselves, be they Maine maritimers with neckbeard, British disadvantaged orphans, or Asian Feng Shuie-ists. It goes amazingly overboard, pun intended.
Cinematography: Terrible! The look is taken from the actual stock from the original 70s show "Sealab 2020". This animation is better than the 1963 "The Might Hercules" that you used to watch after the even worse 1966 "Rocket Robin Hood" on Saturday morning. It's less kitschy than 1978's "Battle of the Planets" ("G-Force"), but uses fairly similar animation technology. Wait wait, remember 1974's "The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo"? There you go, pure fromage! The twist here is that they do, from time to time, throw in the occasional modern update, like Erik Estrada's character might have a "CHiPs" bike helmet on, or they might add... oh, say, an explosion throughout the whole base at the end of almost every show. See? They do it on purpose, and that, my friend, is genius.
Script: I've looked around a little, and the original "Sealab 2020" is not available on DVD. I'd like to watch a couple episodes just to compare, but I'd bet it's full of high adventure and close calls, combined with teamwork and equality-touting dialogue. This on the other hand is an exploration of vice, selfish greed, corruption, sexism, racism, and even robotism. This show, like a less bold Wonder Showzen, assaults our ethics and ideas in the most farcical and sometimes maturely crass ways. Witty and hilarious, I've been told by the friend who introduced this to me that it's 'hit and miss' but I disagree completely.
Plot: It's all about editing, because it's sure not all about plot. When you squint to try and see what happened the first time around, you might just find the undercurrent, pun intended. For example, one original episode had the crew take a sub and wrestle with a giant squid to get an important piece of equipment. In this revisiting however, the piece of equipment the crew is risking their lives to reclaim is the captain's Easy-Bake Muffin Maker, which he simply cannot lose (muffins baked from a light bulb, delicious genius!). This is just one example of how the stories are great because these people are doing nothing constructive. They're just muddling about, in storage closets, electrocuting each other, or being pinned under Coke Machines. Awesome!
Mood: This is a trend that I foresee happening a lot more. As the kids who were too young to have buying power in the age of the 'Me' Generation (Reagan's 80s) grow up alongside the sarcastic bunch of that almost now-cliche Generation-X crowd, we end up with a bunch of television execs and who are sardonic, AIDS-aware but too horny to care, environmentalist when it's convenient, apathetic yuppies who care barely enough unless it's to make stupid cartoons for their friends. Guess what?! I'm their friends! My friends kicks ass!
Overall Rating: 88% (SEE LAB! GO! NOW!)
Aftertaste: Oh my God! Is there anything better than Adult Swim? There's even a hilarious strip poker game on their website. It's like they looked at the demographic who used to watch all this old stuff and said, "Wait, wait! To Hell with a NEW audience, let's keep the kids we have! In comes Space Ghost, an adultified Harvey Birdman, and last but certainly not least... Aqua Teen Hunger Force! This is awesome stuff. You should check it out.
Oh God, I think I just wet myself.