Adult Swim has an image of weird, surreal, irreverent and stoner-friendly comedy shows. As an adult alternative to the Cartoon Network, the channel began by using pre-owned properties and amending them for adults – see Sealab 2021 and Space Ghost Coast-To-Coast, which actually took old cartoons and redubbed them for humour and more adult themes. And then, there are cartoons that were spring-boarded from the concept of childhood nostalgia with a mature twist, which led to the flagship, iconic Adultswim cartoon Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The intent of a sentient group of foods who, supposedly, team up to fight evil, might be something the 1980s would have invented to sell merchandise and promote a questionable fast food restaurant on the decline, but here, it’s a concept taken to both the heightened extremes and the surprisingly low ebbs too.
Running for about a decade and a half, giving 11 seasons of TV and one film (Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters), the adventures of a box of French fries (Frylock, the brains) a milkshake (Mastershake, the ego) and a wad of meat (Meatwad, the innocent) have caused havoc on and off-screen (during promotion for the movie, a secondary character with blinking lights was posted in Boston causing a bomb scare) mainly in their New Jersey neighbourhood, and mainly involving loudmouth, raunchy and vulgar neighbour Carl (a human). At 11 minutes an episode, with very little continuity, Aqua Teen Hunger Force is a small slice of Adult Swim at its Adult Swimmiest, and embraces the darts-at-a-board type of comedy that brings some great jokes between slumps of wandering dialogue – sometimes, 11 minutes can feel long.
All 4 offers, for some reason, only Season 11 on their system, titled ‘Aqua Team Forever’. This is the final season, and features adventures such as an entire episode in stop-motion animation as the gang try to find out why the lazy animator didn’t give Meatwad a mouth (and features Rick And Morty’s Justin Roiland as an Abraham Lincoln hot dog), Carl becoming the new queen of a beehive, with many bees doing his evil bidding (all voiced by Oscar nominee Kumail Nanjiani), and in the double-episode finale – followed by another episode, because this show is always about messing with the audience – a tearful, genuinely emotional song from Patti Smith. It’s about as cool as any table of guest stars could be, let’s face it, and somehow, the show always makes sure to fit them into the weird, specific universe it creates.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s final season is a long goodbye to a show that sapped a few years before, with more middling episodes than genuine classics across its run, but it’s also an easy pick-up-and-watch for newbies because of the show’s lack of continuity. The animation is cheap and cheerful, the characters are crude and simple (but true to themselves), and the ideas are bigger than the runtime allows – although sometimes, you’re finger-tapping a little to get to the punchline. If you fancy an hour and a bit of crass mayhem, light stupidity, or it’s Friday night and you’re finding yourself a little… out to lunch, Aqua Teen Hunger Force is made for you to devour without much thought. A fun time, even if not for a long time.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Season 11 is available to watch and download on All 4, as part of over 300 episodes in its Adult Swim channel.