Most times when I notice the phrase “on acid” used to describe some work of art, it’s a lazy catchall to explain something very odd and unusual, usually by people who have never taken acid themselves. “That music sounds like so-and-so on acid” as if there’s complete certainty that so-and-so’s music, which is the base level, wasn’t attributable to the influence of acid in the first place. For all the reports of wild, colorful hallucinations, there’s also near-catatonic introspection that is as just much a part of the experience.
With full awareness of the cliché, I truly believe that people on acid created Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The premise is so bizarre that there had to be major amounts of drugs involved in the series’ creation. It features the 11-and-a-half-minute adventures of Master Shake, Frylock, and Meatwad, an anthropomorphic value meal that lives in South New Jersey. A variation of the team first appeared in an unproduced episode of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.
Volume 5, incorrectly labeled as “Season 5,” collects the 13 episodes from season four and an uncensored version of “Dickesode” for those who want to hear all 53 times the word “dick” is said. The first three shows originally aired in December 2005, including the double-length “Deleted Scenes” episode, which is titled “Star Studded Xmas Spectatcular” on the DVD, and the remainder ran from October through December of 2006.
The episodes are all self-contained, so there’s no continuity, allowing every episode to begin anew. That’s how Frylock can reappear after dying from skin cancer and the ATHF’s neighbor Carl can return unscathed after having his genitals removed. The humor is very weird and outlandish — at times laugh-out-loud funny, but it occasionally goes too far to shock and badly misfires. When The Mooninites, two-dimensional creatures illustrated with early computer graphic designs, hypnotize Carl, they make him torture himself by putting a broom up his own ass and cutting open his leg with a butter knife. Your reaction (either amusement or disgust) to the previous sentence will determine if this set is right for you.
The DVD set is jam packed with special features. There are deleted scenes, promos for the show, and behind-the-scenes footage in the recording studio with Tera Patrick and someone’s grandmother. Space Ghost pulls double duty. The SG:C2C episode “Chambraigne” appears and live-action Space Ghost works as an entertainment reporter outside the ATHF movie premiere. The latter goes on way longer than it should and will only be of interest to people who appeared in it. The funniest feature is “ATHF Responds to the Critics” where they get back at a critic who trashed their film.
For those new to the series, episodes still air on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and can be seen at AdultSwim.com to judge for yourself. Major amounts of drugs will likely increase your viewing pleasure, but stay away from “Moonajuana.”