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"Space Ghost" Vol. 3: A Valuable DVD With Real

I get a lot of spam. It simply boggles the mind how many people there are in the world who would question my financial situation, physical self-image or phallic confidence simply to make a quick buck (I sometimes even doubt these people actually make any money at all). One part of spam that I do enjoy, however, is the little string of random (?) plaintext keywords that show up at the end of some of these messages. Strung together, these bizarre phrases seem to dance on the tantalizing edge of sense.

Space Ghost: Coast to Coast is kinda like that. When the screen aspect constricts, the film turns black and white and the slamming tones of Rammstein fly out of the speakers in “Brilliant Number One,” there’s no reason for it– but trying to reconcile an irrationally paranoid and egomaniacal 60s superhero, a green bug creature with a scrapey voice and a guy in a radiation suit who does nothing but pull levers with Peter Fonda and Buzz Aldrin and come up with something remotely resembling coherence is part of the fun.

The third DVD volume for Cartoon Network’s venerable first original program is subtitled, “This is 1997,” and it showcases the series’ most prolific (and funniest) period. Highlights from the set’s twenty-four fifteen-minute episodes include “Dam,” in which Space Ghost gets a new wave spiritual advisor, “Pavement,” the show that “Space Ghost write,” “Joshua,” the Space Ghost infomercial (I liked my canister set, but I’m still waiting for my shiny object), and “Boatshow,” the Steve Allen and Andy Dick musical extravaganza. And Macho Man’s guest spot as SG’s grandpa in “Piledriver” is not to be missed. But really, they’re all great. And besides, it’s the randomer moments, like when Brak almost drowns in “rich, creamy, coagulated meat juices” in “Suckup,” or when Moltar tampers with the Space Ghost tribute video in “Anniversary,” or when Space Ghost mourns the tiny trampled victims of his Dance of Joy in “Untitled,” that sneak up on me and make me giggle.

The extras are so good they make me actually want to start watching extras again. The alternate “Zorak” ending is delightfully macabre, and I can see why the WS folks had to include Jon Stewart’s brief Behind the Music-style eulogy for the Banana Splits even if they couldn’t use it in an episode. The “World Premiere Toon In” is fun if just to see Space Ghost bewilder CN’s real cartoon directors. What really startled me, though, was that the commentaries on the disc are actually non-boring sometimes, mostly thanks to the intoxicated state of the commentators. Andy Merrill, Dave Willis and some other guys ramble on and on about the show; some of it’s Valuable Behind The Scenes Information, the rest is wonderfully pointless. The other extra footage and easter eggs are great too, but I don’t want to spoil all the fun here. The set is packaged in an attractive cardboard-plastic combo with a green color scheme. It has a pleasing texture and smells good if you stick your nose in it.

I always thought Space Ghost was the first and funniest of what are now collectively called the Adult Swim comedies. Only the courtroom structure of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law comes close to being as free-flowing as Coast to Coast‘s unrestrained, joyful stream-of-consciousness. Space Ghost also avoids the gross-out humor and mean-spiritedness that plague some of the its little brothers at Adult Swim (particularly Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Sealab 2021), which ultimately makes SG a much funnier, more surreal and enjoyable show.

In conclusion, Space Ghost’s smart, relentless humor sends a clear and profound message to the sound bite generation. That message: “Suck it up, fatty!”

Wait, that’s not it.

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