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Aqua Teen Hunger Force

Aqua Teen Hunger Force (also known as ATHF) is an American animated television series shown on Cartoon Network as part of its Adult Swim late-night programming block, as well as Teletoon in Canada. A would-be spin-off of Space Ghost Coast to Coast, ATHF is one of the four original Williams Street series that premiered on December 30, 2000 before Adult Swim officially debuted (the others were Sealab 2021, The Brak Show, and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law). ATHF is the longest running original series on the network. In 2007, an ATHF movie, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, was released at 877 selected theaters throughout the United States. Another movie is planned for 2011, and to be called Death Fighter.

The show is about three anthropomorphic fast food items, along with their next-door neighbor, and their life together in South Jersey. The Aqua Teens were originally billed as a detective crime fighting unit; however, the crime-solving aspect of the show was quickly abandoned. (In the third season, Frylock states: "We haven't solved a mystery in three years!") There is little if any continuity between episodes; almost all recurring cast members have died at least once, only to return alive and well in the next episode. The focus is instead on a pervasive form of postmodern, surreal and often morbid humor, where the focus is often on dialogue and the characters' interrelation, to such a point where plot is often abandoned to allow more time for personal interaction.

History

Aqua Teen Hunger Force is directed by Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro, and produced by Williams Street. Much of the dialogue is supplemented with ad libs and improvisation by the voice talent. The show is fully scripted but adlibs are included in the final episodes and the shows are animated to include this improvisation. Noted 1980s rapper Schoolly D performs the theme song (which he wrote in his limousine on the way to the recording studio), among other songs related to the show appearing in credits, and has provided periodic running commentaries on early episodes. Many, if not all, of the crew and cast members formerly worked on Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

Origins

The Aqua Teens were originally created for an episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast called "Baffler Meal" as the mascots for a fictional fast-food chain called Burger Trench. It featured a prototypical version of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force that resembled the future characters, but differed in appearance, personality, and voice, with the exception of Meatwad.

"Baffler Meal" did not air for several years (It was not even animated or produced until after ATHF became popular); instead, the Space Ghost episode was re-written as "Kentucky Nightmare," while the Aqua Teens debuted in "Rabbot," the pilot episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Although originally Adult Swim did not feel that the show would do very well, they allowed the show to be produced (because of a need for original programming). A full season consisting of sixteen episodes (counting "Rabbot") of ATHF was put into production shortly thereafter. It is now one of Adult Swim's most popular shows.

The characters are loosely based on the similarly titled Hanna-Barbera show, Teen Force. Frylock was inspired by the character Elektra, who is able to shoot force bolts from her mind. Meatwad, portrayed as the youngest in reference to Kid Comet, is likewise able to morph from his standard spherical shape into a small number of other shapes. Shake is a toned-down version of Moleculelad, and could potentially use his contents to 'surround enemies and hold them in place.' The two most popular antagonists of the show, the Mooninites, are derived from their predecessors, the Astromites.

Title

The title of the show is based on the characters originally portrayed in the Space Ghost Coast to Coast cartoon in the episode "Baffler Meal". The characters were written as corporate mascots for a fast food chain called "Burger Trench". Though the word "aqua" seems entirely superfluous (aside from the odd occasion they are seen residing in their neighbor's pool), the remainder of the name "Teen Hunger Force" refers to the squad's mission to conquer hunger in teens (teenagers being the demographic to which they were marketed). The team seem to NOT be teenagers, and have very little memory of their own ages or histories. In one episode, Meatwad approximates his age as fifty-five, and in another, Master Shake believes he's either thirty or forty.

In early episodes, the trio were identified by Master Shake as the "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," which solved crimes for money. After a few episodes, this premise and the use of the name by the characters was dropped. The premise had originally been added to appease Cartoon Network executives, who "didn't want to air a show about food just going around and doing random stuff." In the show itself, Frylock mentions that they stopped fighting crime because "that wasn't making us a whole lot of money."

Location

The location has been in dispute for a long time, but over the series' run, clues have been left to where exactly in South Jersey the show takes place. In the episode "Remooned" you can see that Carl's license has the postal zip code 089??. In New Jersey, the only towns with this zip code are Highland Park, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, and Waterford Works. All are in Central to Southern New Jersey. In the first episode with MC Pee Pants, Meatwad and Carl are instructed to go to 612 Wharf Avenue. This is an actual road in Red Bank, NJ. The location of this road also happens to be on a dock, as suggested in the episode.

Cold openings

During the first two seasons, which were released on DVD in three volumes, episodes cold opened with a glimpse into the laboratory of Dr. Weird. He and his assistant Steve use the first several seconds of the show to create monsters, disasters, and random things, generally accompanied by the phrase "Gentlemen, behold!" as Dr. Weird unveils his latest accomplishment. In earlier episodes of the first season, the monsters or creations usually formed the basis for the plot, but as the crime-fighting element of the program disappeared, the Dr. Weird segment became a non sequitur opening gag.

In the third season, Dr. Weird was dropped in favor of segments from the pilot episode of Spacecataz, an unaired spin-off created by Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro. These segments featured the Mooninites (Ignignokt and Err) and the Plutonians (Emory and Oglethorpe) clashing with each other, trading insults, gestures, and practical jokes. The full Spacecataz pilot (adding a segment that wasn't aired on TV) is available as a special feature on the Volume Four DVD box-set.

The cold openings were dropped starting in the fourth season. Aside from his movie appearance, Dr. Weird has not been seen since.

Characters

Main characters

Character Description
Master Shake
(Dana Snyder)
More commonly referred to as "Shake" (or occasionally "Cup" by Carl or the Mooninites), is a lazy, stingy, , mean-spirited, , sadistic, and self-centeredbut also nice at times milkshake in the form of a white cup with a pink straw (which proved to be a "strawdar", radar in the shape of a straw, in the movie Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters) and two yellow hands resembling kitchen gloves. He often gets enjoyment out of tormenting Meatwad (to the chagrin of Frylock), swimming in Carl's pool, and watching TV. His "Shake Power" shoots pistachio milkshake onto the ground. He can also suck liquids (up to 85 gallons) using his straw, and is very proficient with firearms and crossbows. Additionally, almost everything he throws to the ground after picking up tends to explode, although none of the team seem to notice most of the time. With the exception of most of his clever schemes towards Meatwad, he has shown to be incredibly stupid at times.
Frylock
(Carey Means)
A floating red box of French fries sporting a "Van Dyke" beard, dental braces (originally), and a mystic blue jewel embedded in his back containing the "power of a thousand suns", giving him the ability to fly and hover. It also conceals a VCR as seen in Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters. He uses his fries to grip things and occasionally as a "Frydar," which can track radiation, vampiric activity, and trace cellphone calls. He is also able to shoot all of his fries at a target simultaneously. Frylock is quite intelligent, scientifically minded and conducts experiments in his room, which contains his library, supercomputer, cloner, and various other laboratory equipment. He is the most intellectual of the ATHF characters, and attempts to provide the others with some sense of morality. Frylock has the ability to shoot lasers, fireballs, lightning, ice rays, and even fire fighting foam from contact lenses. Frylock acts as a parental figure to Meatwad. It is revealed in the ATHF movie that Frylock is actually a transgendered woman trapped in a man's body, but due to the unusual nature of the movie, this may not actually be true.
Meatwad
(Dave Willis)
A mostly peaceful, childishly simple-minded mass of compressed meat that was not approved for human consumption, Meatwad rolls and hops to get from one place to another, often picking up whatever dirt or debris happens to be in his way. He has also displayed shapeshifting abilities, and can morph into a hot dog, an igloo, a bridge, a "Samurai Lincoln" (intended to be Wayne Gretzky, or Tricky Dick as referred to in season 5), a walking spider-like form, a potted flower, a hand displaying the middle finger, a hammer, a three story office building and various other objects. Meatwad uses meaty appendages in order to manipulate objects. He can regenerate quickly even from high levels of damage and conditions such as extreme heat, cold, voltage and pressure. He is often the victim of Shake's abuse and practical jokes, though he has periodically reciprocated this treatment, on one occasion convincing him to get plastic surgery from an auto mechanic. He sometimes is lost in his own fantasy world or sees himself as something better or different than what he truly is, such as how he claims that he has hair in one episode or that the Mooninites are his close friends. He usually has a positive outlook on things, but when something frightens or offends him, he tends to openly start crying like a small child. Meatwad usually sleeps on a grill or brushed nickel colander, but occasionally sleeps on a bed of sand (which also serves as a food source for him). He is also known to make "dolls" out of household items, such as Dewey the paper towel roll, Vanessa the apple, Jeffy the garden hose, and Boxy Brown, a cardboard box who is the duke of New York.
Carl Brutananadilewski
(Dave Willis)
The balding, overweight, sarcastic next door neighbor of the Aqua Teens. He personifies the typical undesirable male bachelor. He dropped out of high school in his senior year (1981) and works out of his home 20 hours a week, yet still manages to own a two-story home and a sports car, which he has dubbed "2 Wycked". Carl loves classic rock, enjoying such bands as Boston, Ted Nugent, Led Zeppelin, REO Speedwagon,and Foreigner . He also loves hot wings, jalapeños, and beer, as well as the occasional Chinese takeout. Carl has a strong passion for sports and loves the New York Giants, New York Yankees, and New York Mets. He owns and enjoys copious quantities of pornographic magazines and videos in his bedroom. He also is obsessed with enlarging his "manhood." He generally dislikes the Aqua Teens and sees them as freaks, but frequently gets involved in scams concerning Meatwad or Shake nonetheless, and often winds up appealing to Frylock for help. He is visited by misfortune in almost every episode; his car has been destroyed and/or stolen on countless occasions, and in most episodes Carl himself is horribly disfigured, mutilated or even killed, but always returns in every episode. He also likes to play air guitar as seen in some episodes.

Secondary characters

Space Ghost
(George Lowe) in the movie. > |align="center"|MC Pee Pants
(Chris Ward IV a.k.a. mc chris)
Character Description
Dr. Weird
(C. Martin Croker)
A mad scientist who lives in an abandoned mental asylum on the perpetually rainy Jersey Shore. Dressed in a colorful outfit reminiscent of 1960s cartoon villains, complete with a glass space helmet that heats his hair (which Dr. Weird calls his "Hair-arium"), he starts many shows by presenting his latest creation with his catch phrase "Gentlemen, behold!" to his lone lab assistant Steve (and occasionally his Hispanic janitor Javier, and once even a swamp creature). His first nonsensical inventions shown include a giant rabbit robot called the "Rabbot" and a rainbow-making machine that functions as a powerful tractor beam (which he introduced only as "this thing"). In Frylock's room, a photo of a younger Dr. Weird with brown hair and Frylock can be seen in the background; the Aqua Teen movie reveals several possible connections between these two characters. While Dr. Weird is an original character, the outside shot of his psychiatric hospital is actually a Nepalese palace from the television show Jonny Quest (episode 25).
Steve
(C. Martin Croker)
Dr. Weird's assistant. Red haired, wearing a lab coat, and always pictured holding a test tube, Steve becomes aware of Dr. Weird's insanity over the course of the first two seasons of the series, but remains his assistant nonetheless. Over the course of the series, Steve has had his brain and spine removed, has been sexually assaulted twice by animated corn, was frozen by a clown wig, and has walked out on Dr. Weird's experiments numerous times. Since the Dr. Weird openings are no longer used, Steve's plot development did not continue, until the movie was released. He was killed by one of Dr. Weird's odd creations when he tried to punch out; the clock released some sort of poisonous gas that quickly rotted him to the bone.
Mooninites
(Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro)
The Mooninites, Ignignokt and Err are two-dimensional aliens voiced by Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro respectively. They are both similar in appearance, but Ignignokt is larger and green, while Err is smaller and is light purple; both resemble blocky, Atari 2600-style pixel graphics. Ignignokt, as the leader of the Mooninites, concocts various plans that never cease to annoy the Aqua Teens and Carl. When these plans don't work and he is endangered, he makes a hasty retreat or combines with Err to form a pixelated gun that shoots a slow moving albeit deadly laser. He makes reference to classic rock music numerous times. Err is known for his trash talk. He regularly coerces Meatwad into going along with Ignignokt's schemes. In the episode "Moonajuana", he claims that he acts like a delinquent because his father abandoned him and he wants attention. It is likely, however, that this is not entirely truthful, as the Mooninites regularly concoct outlandish lies to support their criminal activities. They also like to flip off people and things such as the actual planet earth.
Plutonians
(Andy Merrill and Mike Schatz)
The Plutonians, Oglethorpe and Emory are two spiked aliens from Pluto. Oglethorpe is orange and fatter, while Emory is green and taller. They are named after two Atlanta-based universities, though the characters both attended "Pluto State University." They are seen feuding with the Mooninites throughout the series. Oglethorpe sports a heavy German accent. He also occasionally speaks patches of German. He claims to be a genius (he once employed the phrase, "Do you see how my mind works? It is like a laser."), but is actually just a buffoon with access to 'advanced technology'. He plans to conquer Earth, through such nonsensical plans as sending a Master Shake clone to "de-terraform" the Earth and stealing the Aqua Teens' cable through a version of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich's Stargate (Or "Fargate", as Oglethorpe says that they cannot say "Stargate", probably due to copyright restrictions). Emory appears to be far more intelligent and logical than Oglethorpe, but, being the soft-spoken sort, goes along with his hare-brained schemes. Emory originally hated Oglethorpe and wanted the Aqua Teens to kill him when they went into the past but has since accepted him. They also appear to be stoners.
MC Pee Pants is a mentally insane, eight-foot spider who wears a shower cap and a diaper. He is known for his overly convoluted schemes, all of which use rap as a cover for his criminal tendencies. He is frequently killed, after which he is reincarnated by Satan in a new form with another convoluted scheme. Thus far he's been a cow (Sir Loin), an old man and briefly a vampire (Little Brittle), an earthworm, and, finally, a fly in the ATHF movie.

Episodes

There have been 81 episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force produced over 5 seasons. All episodes run for about 11.5 minutes, with the exception of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Star-Studded Christmas Spectacular", and "Deleted Scenes" which are approximately 23 minutes. When reruns for these episodes are broadcast, they are split into two separate episodes to fit with its 15 minute timeslot.

Films

A feature film based on the show, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, was released on April 13, 2007. The movie follows the origins of the Aqua Teens, which includes an exercise machine, Neil Peart of the band Rush, a watermelon slice named "Walter Melon", and an appearance by heavy metal band Mastodon in the opening sequence. The film also introduces a fourth Aqua Teen, a chicken nugget named "Chicken Bittle" (voiced by Bruce Campbell). The Plutonians and the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past, recurring characters, both make appearances in the movie, as well as the Mooninites, Dr. Weird, and MC Pee Pants.

For April Fools' Day 2007, Cartoon Network aired for free Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters during the Adult Swim programming block even though it had not yet been released. However, it was aired shrunken and in the bottom corner of the normal programming that was being aired at the time. Additionally, it featured no sound.

A sequel to ATHFCMFFT called Death Fighter is planned for a "tentative" release in 2011.

Boston bomb scare

On January 31, 2007, as part of a national guerrilla marketing campaign, Peter Berdovsky, 27, and Sean Stevens, 28, installed LED displays depicting the Mooninites in ten different cities: Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Denver, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. In Boston, Massachusetts, the authorities considered the LEDs suspicious prompting the closure of major roads and waterways for investigation. Turner Broadcasting System later admitted placing the LEDs and apologized for the misunderstanding. In spite of the uproar, Berdovsky and Stevens mocked the media and critics in interviews while facing charges for "placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct". Turner Broadcasting has paid the Boston Police Department one million dollars to cover the investigation’s cost and an additional million for good will. This action was designed to settle criminal and civil claims, while the general manager of Cartoon Network stepped down because of the incident. Of the 10 cities in which the Lite-Brite-like LED displays were placed only Boston saw them as a matter of concern. The installations had been up for weeks prior to the panic.

Music

The Mooninites have their own theme music which recurs on the closing credits of several episodes that feature them. Also performed by Schoolly D, each of the three individual verses is featured on the credits of three different episodes.

On The Mouse and the Mask in 2005, MF DOOM and Danger Mouse (collectively called DANGERDOOM) expanded on the theme of ATHF characters in the track "ATHF." Another track from the record, "Vats of Urine," features a cameo with the Mooninites and their normal, egotistical banter. A hidden track at the end of the CD contains Meatwad rapping a verse from MF DOOM's "Beef Rapp".

The episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force titled "Party All the Time" featured "The Party Song" written by creators Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro. This song was also heard in the episode "Grim Reaper Gutters" as the backing track for a flashback video.

The rapper MC Chris plays the voice of MC Pee Pants, Sir Loin, and Little Brittle, and wrote a few songs under these aliases for the show.

Video games

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Zombie Ninja Pro-Am is a PlayStation 2 game published by Midway Games and was released November 2007. In an interview for The Feed on G4, ATHF creator Dave Willis confirmed that there is an Aqua Teen video game in production. In the game, you play golf while battling villains that have appeared on the show, including Carl's gigantic crabs, the Brownie Monsters and the Mooninites.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Destruct-O-Thon is a mobile game released on December 7, 2004 by Glu. The object was to hit an object from the show across a course resembling the street the Aqua Teens live on, hitting other objects along the way (such as hitting a stick of dynamite into Carl's car), creating momentum and choosing an angle using only the 5 key.

Cameos and appearances

The characters in ATHF have made cameo appearances in a number of other television shows, and the show itself has appeared on televisions within other shows as well.

  • Master Shake cameos in at least two episodes of Adult Swim's Robot Chicken, in the second season premiere as a judge of whether or not Robot Chicken should be allowed to continue (in a parody of the trial of Zod from the film Superman) and as a guest in the sketch "Best Robot Chicken Ever", a parody of VH1's Best Week Ever.
  • The Adult Swim.com game "5 Minutes to Kill (Yourself)" contains a trophy in the shape of Master Shake.
  • The ending of the Sealab 2021 episode "Murphy Murph and the Feng Shui Bunch" reveals that the events of the episode were actually a video game being played by Master Shake and Meatwad. A scene from "Rabbot" is also played on a television in the episode "Predator".
  • In the Minoriteam episode "Tremendous Class", Non-Stop is awakened by an alarm clock that looks and sounds like Master Shake.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Gorce has been referenced twice on The Colbert Report.
    • Following the 2007 Boston bomb scare, Stephen Colbert mentioned the incident on the show and commented "If you want to get people excited about Aqua Teen Hunger Force, gotta use Frylock." He later blamed Meatwad for ruining his future publicity stunts.
    • In a January episode covering other countries' views on the 2008 Presidential election, Colbert showed an Arab newspaper with an article about the Aqua Teen Hunger Force and said that Frylock would vote for Barack Obama, Shake would vote for Rudy Giuliani and Meatwad would vote for Ron Paul.
  • ESPN's SportsCenter anchors Scott Van Pelt and Stuart Scott have repeated lines from the show during various commentary on sporting highlights. Van Pelt was also the announcer of the hole rundowns with the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past in the Zombie Ninja Pro-Am video game .
  • A deleted scene in the film The Ring shows Aidan watching the episode "Rabbot".
  • In "Johnny Cakes", an episode of The Sopranos, A.J. Soprano is seen watching an episode of the show.
  • Carl and Meatwad appeared on VH1's Best Week Ever, congratulating them on their 100th episode.
  • A short clip was shown on Adult Swim explaining how Master Shake became the unofficial "leader." A ballot was taken between the three characters, with them to vote for anyone but themselves. Meatwad voted for Shake, Frylock voted for Meatwad, and Shake ignorantly voted for himself.
  • Meatwad makes an appearance in a Dodge commercial, in which he is coughed up by a passenger in the vehicle who is choking, splatters against the windshield, and says "Sweet!"
  • The Aqua Teens appear in a 1-800-Call-ATT commercial, in which Shake is wearing a red wig to make people think that he is Carrot Top, the spokesman for the service.
  • In the MMORPG World of Warcraft, there is a quest entitled "Rescue OOX-17/TN!" wherein the player is asked to rescue a "robot chicken" and return it to its creator, "Oglethorp Obnoticus", a reference to Oglethorpe the Plutonian, and Obnoticus, the disco ball full of wisdom.

See also

Notes

External links

Official sites

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