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"Moral Orel" Volume 1 on DVD: Not Praiseworthy

by on April 30, 2007

Moral Orel is not a show I’d seen or heard much about before seeing its DVD announcement. I may have seen the name once or twice in passing on TV, but I never took much initiative in attempting to watch it. Still, that’s what DVDs are for—to catch up on what you missed on TV. When I got Morel Orel to review, though, I was excited: after the DVD announcement, I’d heard positive things about it, so I eagerly sat down to watch it.

To me, Moral Orel feels like a more refined Robot Chicken. This is, of course, because of the stop-motion/clay animation. It’s a real treat to watch, but after getting through the second disc it quickly became evident that Moral Orel is really just Robot Chicken with a plot. Because of this, it’s both good and bad; in some instances, the extended stories are great, but in others you have Orel drunk for a whole episode, which quickly wears thin. A similar plot in Robot Chicken with, say, Batman, would be more entertaining and have a shorter running time.

Still, Moral Orel is not without its witty episodes. The long-delayed second episode, where Orel is caught doing #3 in the bathroom stall, is disturbing and highly funny to watch. “The Greatest Christmas Ever!” is also a highlight of the set, making for one dark-as-hell Christmas story that manages to reach all the right spectrums of funny in its fifteen-minute running time. The final episode on the set, “Offensiveness,” will change the way you feel about eating eggs and sends the set out on an incommodious end, but it offers up a few great lines (“Wow, I suddenly have to go throw up”) along the way.

The rest of the set ranges from hilarious to completely mediocre, creating an uneven DVD set that I’m not entirely sure is worth owning. While I may feel the same about Robot Chicken, part of Chicken‘s appeal is the toys they use and the way they bastardize the characters. Orel, on the other hand, is its own universe, and we’re not given as much context behind the characters, which makes the unfunny jokes a big waste of everyone’s time.

Overall, it’s a fifteen-episode collection that’s only worth watching once, unlike other Adult Swim shows that maintain a high level of rewatchability. Moral Orel is entertaining in the short spurts it gets on the network, but not on a DVD set.

Moral Orel: Volume One contains the first season and the first five episodes of season two, as well as a host of extras. The packaging is simple and completely white. The rear of the packaging reproduces an email from Mike Lazzo to Dino Stamatopoulos, detailing how Moral Orel is Adult Swim’s first uncensored DVD. (I don’t know what was censored on-air, so I can’t really comment on how much farther the DVD release takes things.) It’s a witty way to work the DVD package.

Menus are in 4:3 and feature music over the majority of the menus. Menus are easy to navigate (and finding the easter eggs is easy as well) and don’t distract from the set in any way. There is an oddity on the first disc—the disclaimer that the episodes contain mature themes shows for only a brief second, but is on-screen for 20 to 30 seconds on the second disc. Not sure if it’s an isolated error, but it’s not a major one. Video and audio for this set is clean and clear. The video does sport some interlacing issues, but the audio is strong and clear throughout. There are no chapter stops.

On the special feature front, Moral Orel sports quite the list of special features. Episodes 2-5 and 10-13 have commentaries, which are all entertaining to listen to. While they can go off-topic, they offer a bit of behind-the-scenes information, and fans of the show will no doubt want to hear more. It’s odd that there is no commentary on the pilot, but oh well.

One of the more entertaining extras on the set is “The Awkward Comic-Con Panel,” which has Dino Stamatopoulous drunk and essentially being a bit of an ass. While this is an abbreviated version of the panel (the original was over forty minutes), this one gives a nice feel for what the mood was like. In addition to the original panel audio, we get commentary from the cast and crew of Moral Orel as well as a second commentary by Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer. The one by the Orel crew is far more informative than the Publick and Hammer one, as the Venture Bros. creators lament how the panel went and comment on how uncomfortable it was, while the Orel team talks about the reasons behind the awkwardness (vodka). Both commentaries are fun to listen to, and the Venture Bros. fan in me was glad to hear more from the guys behind that show.

Another key special feature on this set is the behind the scenes featurette, which gives us a good feel for what goes on backstage on the show. We get to see some of the animators, writers, voice actors—everything that goes into the show’s production. The mood of this is a lot more laid back than, say, the Comic-Con panel, and is very cool to watch.

The deleted scenes are extremely brief on this set—probably clocking in at under a minute overall. Some of the scenes are just minor dialogue clips (we’re talking seconds of dialogue here). The rest of the special features are promos/bumps that aired on Adult Swim, as well as the original God “flipping the bird” opening of the show.

Overall, the special features make for a comfortable DVD set, but the show is a big hit-and-miss throughout. Fans of the show won’t want to miss the set, but I found it a bit too mediocre for my tastes—it’s fun to watch once, but repeat viewings definitely won’t be happening for me.

Morel Orel: Volume 1 is now available on DVD.

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