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DVD Review: Moral Orel – Volume One

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Dino Stamatopoulos has an amazing resume as a television comedy writer. He has worked on the late night talk shows of David Letterman and Conan O’Brien, the sketch comedy shows of Ben Stiller, Dana Carvey, and Mr. Show, and the difficult-to-describe TV Funhouse and Tom Goes to the Mayor. He can now list “creator” with Moral Orel, which airs on Adult Swim and has its first 15 episodes, all of season one and half of season two, available on DVD as Volume 1.

The series is set in Moralton, Statesota. Presented in stop-motion animation, it follows the exploits of Orel, a young Christian boy who lives in with his know-it-all father, his unhappily married mother, and his spastic, younger brother, Shapey, who Orel believes is the second coming of Christ. He constantly misinterprets the teachings of God and grown-ups with outlandish, vulgar, and funny results.

After Reverend Putty’s sermon about the sanctity of life being God’s greatest gift, Orel figures dead people are “spitting in God’s face.” To rectify the situation, he steals the “Necronomicon” from the library’s book-burning pile, so he can raise the dead and stop them from sinning. That they become brain-eating zombies doesn’t upset the townspeople as much as the fact that they are running around naked.

Orel upsets people for unexpected reasons. When he doesn’t want to waste his urine, he sells it as an energy drink. The townspeople don’t get angry about drinking his urine, but that he made it for free yet charged them to buy it. In another episode, Orel wants to help the homeless so he gives a man some money. The man happens to drug dealer, so he gives Orel crack-cocaine in return. Since Orel has been taught not to waste, he begins using. He gets in trouble with his father not for taking drugs, but because, “Crack is a gateway to slang.”

The religious content and stop-motion animation will bring to mind Davey and Goliath for those who remember a time when you had to get up to change the channel to see what was on UHF. For those of the cable generation who may have missed out, Davey and Goliath was created in the 1960s by Art Clokey, the man responsible for Gumby, and the Lutheran Church in America. It presented life lessons and religious teachings in an entertaining way. Davey was a young child who ignored warnings from grown-ups about matters like skating on thin ice and exploring abandoned mines. He got himself in trouble, which is where his dog Goliath came in. Goliath spoke, but only Davey and the audience could understand him. He acted as Davey’s conscience, questioning his master’s poor choices with the familiar refrain, “I don't know, Davey.” Goliath would then help get Davey out of the jam, and everyone learned the moral of the story.

Some religious folks may be offended, but Moral Orel is so over-the-top it can’t be taken as a serious attack or criticism of anyone’s beliefs unless you choose it to be. It doesn’t so much poke fun at Christianity but mocks hypocrisy, ‘50s sitcoms, and incorrect interpretations of the Bible. It definitely is not for children.

The DVD contains extras. There are commentary tracks on some episodes that alternate between chaotic and funny with all the people in the room. A funny argument occurs as they argue about a character’s true nature. The deleted scenes are almost too short to be of any worth other than the original open, which has commentary.

The wildest extra is the Adult Swim panel from Comic-con 2006 with the creative teams from Robot Chicken, the Venture Bros., Metalocalypse and Moral Orel. Dino was drunk and took over the proceeding, acting very obnoxious. He comes across as desperate for attention and rude to the others. There are two commentary tracks of the event. Dino candidly admits to being bitter because they are lesser known, which was impressive because he didn’t have to be so honest. The creative team of the Venture Bros. provides a commentary track about their reaction to the event.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS