"The Aquabats Super Show!" – Welcome to the House of Fun
The Aquabats! Who are they? A superhero team from the island of Aquabania, battling the forces of evil through the power of rock? An indie rock band with a bizarre gimmick that gives them massive nerd street cred? A quintet whose lead singer co-created one of the loopiest, goofiest, and most fun kids TV show on the air now? Or are they >gasp< all of the above and more…AT ONCE?!??! Well, whatever they are, the Aquabats can now add one more line to their bizarro resume: stars of their own TV show, now that The Aquabats Super Show! is set to premiere on the Hub network. After screening two episodes, I can say with confidence that this full-on, bat-guano crazy show is one of the weirdest and most hilarious things I’ve ever seen in quite some time.
Nominally, The Aquabats Super Show! sends the band on adventures to right wrongs, destroy boredom, and seek justice for all with the help of their battle tram and seriously righteous rock-and-roll tunes. They are led by the mustachioed MC Bat Commander, with Crash McLarson on bass, Jimmy the Robot on keyboards and sax, Ricky Fitness on drums, and Eaglebones Falconhawk on guitar. They ostensibly have super powers, but even the most unobservant viewer will figure out that these guys really aren’t very good superheroes. The Aquabats Super Show! might look like no-budget indie video starring a bunch of guys getting paid to act extremely silly on camera, slamming and getting slammed by a bunch of guys in rubber suits rejected from a Power Rangers show. Look deeper and…well, OK, to be honest, that’s exactly what The Aquabats Super Show! really is.
However, the premiere episode “Manant!” won me over quickly by being so relentlessly, unapologetically, and energetically goofy. Watching “Manant!” must have been what it felt like to watch Batman for the first time in the 1960’s. If anything, I appreciate more than ever before why Batman was such a hit when it debuted, and The Aquabats Super Show! does a fine job of updating Batman‘s camp sensibilities for modern, cynical, and jaded audiences. There’s a supervillain (complete with an origin story linking him to one of the Aquabats) dispatched through a lot of harmless comic book superhero mayhem and a lot of completely silly antics. The closing song “Burger Rain” is exactly as weird and funny as it sounds, and had me about to fall out of my chair laughing. It’s rounded out by one exceptionally funny fake ad, some amusing animated interstitials, and a cartoon episode of the Aquabats dropped right in the middle of the show for no reason other than someone must have thought it was cool. In all honesty, the second episode “Mysterious Egg!” isn’t anywhere near as sublimely ridiculous, but only because “Manant!” sets such an incredibly high bar to clear. It’s definitely got the same flavor of insanity and can draw enough laughs on its own, especially when Jimmy the Robot sings about robot feelings during the episode’s power-ballad musical number (with the line about robots being stay-at-home moms eliciting one of the biggest laughs of the episode).
As Spinal Tap lead singer David St. Hubbins has stated, there’s such a fine line between stupid and clever; The Aquabats Super Show! (like the Nerima Daikon Bros anime series) blasts so hard into the stupid zone that it punches clear through to the other side and becomes clever again. It may even be dumb enough to circumnavigate the stupid/clever date line four or five times before ending up on the “clever” side. I also feel like The Aquabats Super Show! possesses the same smart kind of dumb that made the first Bill & Ted movie so much fun to watch. In a way, I’m almost afraid to think out why I think the show is as funny as I do, for fear that something will break in that thought process and I won’t think the show is funny any more.
Like Monty Python and the Coen Brothers, I expect that people will be extremely polarized by The Aquabats Super Show!, either loving it with an intense fervor bordering on the manic or absolutely detesting it as totally idiotic nonsense. If nothing else, I have to give full credit to the Hub for being willing to put something like The Aquabats Super Show! on the air at all, especially when so many other networks are perfectly happy to stick with the tried and true (and kinda boring). Will enough people get the gag of The Aquabats Super Show!? Or will the band be defeated by insufficient ratings and slink back to their indie rock world or their magic superhero island? I, for one, sure hope it’s the former. Tune in next time to find out: same Aquabat time, same Aquabat channel!
The Aquabats Super Show! premieres on Saturday, March 3, 2012, at 11:00 AM (ET)/8:00 AM (PT). Visit Hubworld.com for more information or to find the Hub on your local cable network.