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by Ben Kromer & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & ubmitted for your approval, cartoon tales of three anthropomorphized food products and their bizarre misadventures in a landscape of madness. Specifically, the house they share in New Jersey. Often they will encounter beings from other planets and other planes of existence. More often they'll encounter their neighbor Carl and annoy, torture and maybe inadvertently kill him. Aqua Teen Hunger Force's continuity runs in 11-minute cycles, so though Carl dies a lot, he always comes back.





The Aqua Teen Hunger Force is a team of private detectives, or at least that was the original premise. It was dropped soon after the first episode because 11 minutes isn't enough time to bother with premises.





So what we get are characters. Frylock, a box of French fries with a goatee, is the brains and the straight man. Meatwad, who usually looks like a meatball, is a sexless, childlike moron. Master Shake, a milk shake with hands, is the source of ATHF's most quotable lines. Their neighbor Carl is a bald lummox who is bitter and loves REO Speedwagon. The characters and their simplistic personalities stay consistent from show to show, the rest is mercurial.





I'm usually impatient with deliberate weirdness tailored to stoners with short attention spans, but I like ATHF, probably because it's in such extraordinarily bad taste. Some scenes are so grotesque they can serve as gut checks. Also, though there have been hundreds of capital 'J' Jerks on television, Master Shake is the most memorable. Ever. Or at least since the mid-1980s, when I started watching TV. Ditto for Carl in the ever-popular slob neighbor category. That's as much form as you can give it. Really though, the show best summarizes itself. Early on in Season One, Ignignot (the character Boston officials mistook for a terrorist last month) said, "We do whatever we want to whoever we want at all times." That's a kind of freedom that reason and a sense of decency don't allow for.





ATHF is the outright weirdest piece of pop culture ever


to be embraced by a large audience. If the world at large is


ready for an 11-minute cartoon with no moral center, no


themes, and little sense, that gives me hope for the future.





My Super


Sweet Sixteen


This stunning slice of reality TV is about the worst people in the world and the birthday parties they throw themselves. Whenever I feel like everything is OK, I watch Sweet Sixteen and learn how to hate all over again. (Constantly, MTV)





Real Time


With Bill Maher


Though many allude to it, Bill Maher is the only person on TV willing to call the president a retard. Hyperbolic maybe, but there's some catharsis at work. Bill wasn't as rude when he hosted Politically Incorrect. I wonder what happened in the interim. Oh, right, he got fired for acting out that show's title.... (Friday March 23, 11 pm, HBO)





Andy Barker, P.I.


I'll give Andy Richter two more episodes for his new show to get a lot funnier. And he better bring it, because my P.I. comedy quota is pretty much already filled by Veronica Mars. (Thursday March 22, 9:30 pm, NBC)

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