Regular Show: Fright Pack
R1 - America - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Ethan Stevenson (10th February 2014).
The Show

"Ugh. LAAAAME! I thought you guys said these stories were gonna be scary? Thanks for wasting our time. Come on Hi-Five, let's bail."

In the very first episode included in "The Regular Show: Fight Pack", six friends sit in the living room of an old split-level house positioned on the edge of the local park that they also collectively manage and maintain as a day job, trying to spin spine-tingling stories of terror to scare each other. The six characters are a cast of veritable oddballs: 23-year old Mordecai (voiced by series creator J.G. Quintel), a walking-talking blue jay, and his best friend, a raccoon named Rigby (William Saylers); Pops (Sam Marin), an anthropomorphic mustached lollipop; a fat, green-skinned slob ironically nicknamed "Muscle Man" (also voiced by Sam Marin), and his best friend Hi-Five Ghost (Jeff Bennett or J.G. Quintel, depending the season), a ghastly spirit fond of slappin' skin with anyone who'll raise a hand; and an immortal yeti called Skips (Mark Hamill). Their tales are only partly terrifying, and mostly just bizarre. In the one of the three stories that make up this first episode, Pops unintentionally parodies Chucky and other killer doll horror stories with the parable of Percy, a red-eyed, sharp-teethed demon dressed like Little Lord Fauntleroy. The visuals of his story are certainly horrifying, but the worst act Pops can think for Percy do is… have him draw on people's faces with a permanent marker (a reveal that prompts the above quote from Muscle Man). The disconnect is ultimately representative of the delightful contradiction that is "The Regular Show" as a whole.

For the uninitiated, "Regular Show" is anything but regular or normal. Created by CalArts graduate J.G. Quintel, a writer/animator who pitched the series to Cartoon Network during a time when the broadcaster was looking to age-up some of its programming, it's either an animated series that's ostensibly a show for children mixed with some decidedly adult elements, or an adult cartoon that has an innate child-like quality. Perhaps it's both. Like "Adventure Time (2010-present), a similar creation of Quintel's close friend, colleague, and fellow CalArts alumni Pen Ward which also came out of that same pitch period at CN, the show appeals as much (maybe more) to twenty and thirty somethings stuck in a state of arrested development, or those who are just childish at heart, as it does to actual children.

The show has witty dialog, thoroughly insane and sometimes slightly stupid scenarios (in a good way, mostly), and a lot of little touches that only adults will get. The entire set up, aimless 23-year-olds living together in a house, does kind of present a different framework than most other kids shows; Quintel has admitted that many of the story lines and jokes come from his college days, or at least a bizarro version of them. And considering it's based on one of Quintel's shorts that he made as a student, in which characters talked about acid and pot while on those drugs... yeah, even if it's marketed as one, "Regular" is not really a kids show, although it's never as overt with its adultness as the short from which it was born.

Not unlike many of the shows that dominate Cartoon Network's line up, "Regular Show" shoots straight for the slacker demographic, and most of its audience probably watches the series while… under the influence of some sort of mood and mind-altering substances. It's designed with the attention-deficit in mind, packed with gamer humor, pop culture references right out of the 1980's, and outlandish characters frequently embarking on mundane adventures that somehow inevitably tumble out of control, into larger-than-life ludicrousness that very well could be drug-aided hallucinations (but, importantly, never even hinted at that they might be). All is usually accomplished in 11-minutes--the average length of an episode--or less. There are adventures in babysitting, binge eating, trick-or-treating, and a perilous journey to the video store (remember those?); confrontations with vengeful wizards, zombies, were-creatures, killer hotdogs, the Damien-like offspring of the Grim Reaper, and a rabid death metal band (with an emphasis on the death part) who all torture and terrorize Mordecai and friends at various times throughout.

Although tamer than anything in Cartoon Network's late night Adult Swim block, "Regular Show, which is rated TV-PG, earns its rating well, with gross-for-a-kids-show-gore and some decidedly sadistic touches of surrealism. The 14 episodes included in this "Fight Pack" compilation disc are probably more questionable than the series in a general sense, due in part to the recurrent horror themes. Admittedly, I'm no expert, or a regular viewer, but the episodes contained within this set also aren't necessarily the best the series has to offer, although some of them are very clever, and all of them perfectly palatable in their easily digestible, compact delivery, offering tales ten-minutes at a time.

"The Regular Show: Fight Pack" includes 14 of the series' horror themed episodes from various seasons on a single disc, including its first two Halloween specials in their entirety. The episodes are:

- "Terror Tales of the Park"--The series' first Halloween Special is actually 3 mini-sodes in an extra-long 22-minute block. In "Creepy Doll", Mordecai and Rigby discover Pops' new friend, "Percy", is actually a demonically possessed doll. In "Death Metal Crash Pit" Muscle Man and Hi-Five go deep into the park and find a haunted RV. Finally, in "In the House" Rigby angers a wizard after egging his house, and is cursed.

- "Terror Tales of the Park II"--The series' second Halloween Special is another super-sized episode with 3 stories. In "Payback", Mordecai's uncle comes back from the dead, haunting him. In "Party Bus", Mordecai, Rigby, and their girlfriends Margaret (Janie Haddad) and Eileen (Minty Lewis) go on a party bus... only to find that it's a death bus. And in "Wallpaper Man" Mordecai and Rigby hire a wallpaper man; but is it a man?

- "Dead At Eight"--Mordecai and Rigby must babysit Death's kid in order to convince Death to spare Muscle Man's life.

- "Jinx"--Mordecai jinxes Rigby, punching him every time he speaks. Rigby must then figure out how to un-jinx himself, but accidentally summons Ybgir, his demonic doppelgänger, during a dangerous "un-jinxing" ritual.

- "Grave Sights"--To raise money for the park, Mordecai and Rigby host a scary movie night in the park's run-down cemetery. When the projector malfunctions, the audience of the sold out show is witness to a murderous miracle: the bloodthirsty dead rising from their graves for real.

- "Ello Gov'nor"--Mordecai and Rigby watch an old British horror movie about an evil ghost taxi that murders people. Although clearly a work of fiction, Rigby believes the death taxi is be a real threat; his paranoia may not be unfounded.

- "Death Bear"--Mordecai, Rigby, Margaret and Eileen go on an adventure in the old abandoned zoo to take a picture inside Death Bear's cage.

- "Skunked"--While playing a game of (it's-exactly-what-it-sounds-like) Roadkill Bingo, Rigby is sprayed by a skunk; the creature turns out to be a Were-Skunk, and Rigby must find a cure before he becomes one himself.

- "See You There"--Muscle Man invites everyone to Hi-Five Ghost's birthday bash, except for Mordecai and Rigby, who then try and crash the party.

- "Meat Your Maker"--Through a series of mishaps and misfortune, Mordecai and Rigby are locked in a freezer; a group of talking hotdogs attempt to help them escape, but have ulterior motives for securing their own freedom.

- "Dizzy"--When severe stage-fright paralyses Pops into a cationic, unconscious state, Mordecai and Rigby go inside his mind to help him deal with his fear.

- "The Best in the World"--Mordecai and Rigby must return a video to a rental store, but a creepy gnome won't stop stealing it from them.

- "Last Meal"--Muscle Man wants to binge on his favorite foods before going on a diet.

- "Skips' Stress"--Skips has to lower his stress for health reasons.

Video

The "Fight Pack" compilation presents the 14 episodes that comprise this release in their original 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The series' animation is absurdly simple, and actual detail--in keeping with the almost childlike quality of the artwork and character design--is minimal. Line art is sketchy, rough looking and occasionally indistinct. Backdrops have a flattened, textured pastel fill. But colors are bright, vibrant, and appealing. The transfer exhibits some mild edge enhancement artifacts, and faint banding, but no other noticeable artifacts. Overall, not terrible, for DVD, but hardly impressive.

Audio

"The Regular Show" started in stereo but moved to 5.1 surround for HD broadcast after the first season. All 14 episodes, even those from season 2-4 are presented on DVD in English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. The track is fine, but nothing about it is noteworthy. The show's score, by Mark Mothersbaugh, is eccentrically low-fi for no real reason; sounds of synthesizers and even a theremin(!) abound in these horror themed episodes. The disc also includes optional English subtitles.

Extras

The only extra is a villains gallery (6 pages), simple text bios for some of the baddies in these episodes. There are pages for:

- "Death Bear"
- "The Wizard"
- "Howard Flighton"
- "Jan The Wallpaper Man"
- "Skull Punch"
- "Ygbir and Icedrom"

Bonus trailers for:

- "Regular Show: Party Pack" on DVD (1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen; 30 seconds).
- "Adventure Time: The Complete Second Season" on DVD and Blu-ray (1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen; 30 seconds).
- "The Amazing World of Gumball: The Mystery" on DVD (1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen; 30 seconds).
- "The Regular Show" on CN (1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen; 30 seconds).

The DVD and Blu-ray release of seasons one and two included audio commentary on every episode. It's a shame the commentaries for the episodes from the first and second season included here weren't ported over, although I assume they were left off to make fans who wanted them spring for the pricer full set.

Overall

Many CN series these days, even a few shows outside of the Adult Swim block, are complete bonkers; bizarre in the extreme, brimming with obvious and opaque references to pop culture, bursting with a brazen anti-establishment aesthetic, and made to it look like something a guy put together in his garage. And I think that's kind of great. "The Regular Show" is odd, but the better for it. This "Fright Pack" DVD compilation is… serviceable. The picture and audio are about what you expect, given the DVD format, and the low-fi production values of the series. The 14 episodes, which are all horror themed, are not necessarily the 14 best episodes of the series ever, although some of them are near the top of what I've seen (although I'm not a consistent, regular viewer). One caveat with this "Fright Pack" release is that it's surprisingly front loaded with episodes from season one and two, which have been released in their entirety on Blu-ray and DVD. Considering seasons three and four aren't out on DVD yet, and might never be out on Blu-ray (sales of the first set apparently weren't too good, sadly), it seems a missed opportunity to not include more of the later material--although, I suppose the move makes sense if WB and CN intend to release more compilations, which they surely will. At a reasonably low asking price, this is worth it for fans who don't want to shell out the extra dough for the full season one/two set, or want the as yet otherwise unreleased episodes from seasons three/four.

The Show: B Video: B- Audio: C Extras: F Overall: C+

 


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