by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & Metalocalypse / My Adult Swim Thesis & r & & r & (Cartoon Network, Mondays, Midnight) & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & C & lt;/span & onfession time: I'd never seen Metalocalypse before April 30. I probably would have never watched it if the oddest thing hadn't happened. Upon arriving at work two days prior, characteristically late and generally unkempt, I found the office buzzing about me. Glances. Whispers. "Dude, did you get your mail?" someone asked. "You gotta burn me a copy," said another. "Check your box," came a third. I'd been sent a Metalocalypse screener. One episode. "DethWedding." "Ah! He got the album too!" came a fourth voice as I opened the package, narrating the scene for the benefit of those not looking over my shoulder.
I've been on an Adult Swim fast since 2005, but this kind of breathless office fluttering was the perfect reason to fall off the wagon. Metalocalypse is obviously big doin's. To educate myself, I did all the requisite Wikipedia-ing and I downloaded all the episodes I could find, planning for a five-ish-hour marathon broken up into 11-minute segments (the length of a Metalocalypse episode and most other Adult Swim shows). I made it through roughly 33 minutes. Then my head exploded.
Adult Swim shows aren't made to be consumed back-to-back-to-back. It's bad for you. Metalocalypse -- like Sealab 2021, like Saul of the Molemen, like Assy McGee, like the still ultra-popular Aquateen Hunger Force -- is based on a funny, but incredibly sparse concept: A metal band (half of them Americans and half Scandinavians) is so popular it has become the world's 12th largest economy. The band is preoccupied with stereotypically metal things -- murder, death, murder, blood, beatings, ritualized murder, etc. -- and each character has certain idiosyncratic traits that the creators pound into the ground constantly. Each episode takes this conceit and lays it over the thinnest of plot devices. In the case of "DethWedding," for example, it's the band attending a wedding. That's it. Relatives mooch off the band because the band members are rich; the Scandinavians talk funny because they're Scandinavians. It's funny and light and you almost feel like it's over too soon. Really, though, it's over just soon enough. You watch a second episode and it's precipitously less funny because it starts to become obvious just how threadbare a conceit we're working with here. By the third consecutive episode, Metalocalypse is just unbearable.
Watching the show, I remembered why I'd started my Adult Swim fast in the first place: I'd had the exact same experience with marathons of Aquateen and Harvey Birdman. Those shows, much better than Metalocalypse, took five and four episodes, respectively, to get me clawing at the walls.
Upcoming spring premieres:
This American Life
Though less riveting than its radio counterpart, TAL is still the best slice-of-life magazine on TV. (Showtime, Sundays, 10 pm)
Contemporary horror directors pull a Twilight Zone, each telling a discrete hour-long tale of terror. (NBC, Thursdays, 10 pm)
In Plain Sight
Mary McCormack and some horse-faced dude pull back the veil on the federal witness protection program. (USA, June 1, 10 pm)
Man vs. Wild
Despite being slightly more fake than its cousin, Survivorman, we'd still take MvW host Bear Grylls over Les Stroud's annoying ass any day. (Discovery, Fridays, 9 pm)