Friday, April 2, 2010
DVD Review: Superjail! - Season One
Superjail! may be the single weirdest cartoon I have ever seen. The ten-episode first season originally ran on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim during the 2008 season. Superjail! - Season One has just been released on DVD, and contains all of the original shows plus some bonus material. For anyone who enjoys truly twisted animation, this set is a must.
The setting is a maximum security prison called Superjail, which is housed on an island, inside of a volcano. Presiding over the huge inmate population are The Warden, who is like a brutal Willy Wonka; transgendered prison guard Alice; and their trusty robot, Jailbot. Other characters who make regular appearances are accountant Jared, who is a recovering alcoholic, and is abused mercilessly, and The Twins, a Teutonic duo with supernatural powers and a flair for mischief and techno music.
Like many of the features shown on Adult Swim, the episodes are short--each clocking in at around ten minutes. But they pack a lot into those ten minutes. Each story begins with some sort of basic premise, which is then subjected to all sorts of bizarre permutations (usually via The Twins or The Warden), building up to the inevitable ultra-violent conclusion.
“Superbar” is a good example of the all-out weirdness of Superjail! The Warden decides to open a bar inside the prison, so that he can romance Alice. Alice is hot for a tattooed inmate though, and rejects The Warden, while Jared falls off the wagon in a big way. Meanwhile, the drunken inmates try to escape through the unused Ladies room. When they drill through the wall, the surrounding ocean engulfs Superjail, leading to a psychedelic extravaganza of brutality. The sea creatures attack everyone in sight, for a thoroughly gory denouement.
There is something to recommend in every episode of Superjail’s first season, but a few episodes are particularly memorable. “Ladies Night,” introduces Ultraprison, which is the women's version of Superjail. When the cargo plane full of hot, female convicts crash lands at Superjail, everybody has fun. Additionally, the supernatural “Terrorarium” is positively lysergic, as is the season ending “Time-Police” show.
One of the only prisoners to appear in every program is called Jacknife, who gets captured by Jailbot in the opening sequences. His crimes include stealing a carny’s cash-box, stealing a stripper’s tips, stealing medicine from children, and grave robbing. Jailbot always takes him back to Superjail to the strains of theme song “Comin’ Home.” In the bonus section, the full-length video for the tune is included. It is by a band who call themselves Cheeseburger, who rival the prisoners in the looks department. The other notable extra is the pilot episode, “Bunny Love,” which shows that the writers and producers had the concept down cold from the beginning.
I found it a little surprising that the DVD uses the censored dialog that was originally show on TV, rather than allowing the four-letter words to fly. Maybe it is a misguided attempt to capture the kiddie market. Make no mistake, Superjail! is not for kids. It is a graphic, and very warped vision of the world, the likes of which I have never really come across before. Needless to say, I am looking forward to season two in a big way.