The time most never thought was going to come is here. Aqua Teen Hunger Force is rebooting itself in matrix style. Although, I don’t know if this qualifies as a reboot but more of a continuation. It’s been eight years since the last season, and they promised it would never come back; however, it looks like they lied, and the die-hard fans have never been happier. But how does this continuation stack up to the flood of reboots, reversions, and redos? Should ATHF have stayed in our head movies just as we remember it, never to be tarnished? Or are we ready to take the MFS (Meatwad, Frylock, Shake, aka Master Shake) cinematic universe past the Mooninites? Let’s use these first two episodes as our case study. Are we launching it, or stannin’ it to an uncomfortable level?
My Name Is…
Before I jump in, there will be very light spoilers. To be fair I have no idea how to spoil a show with no rhyme or reason for any of its actions. (aww – It’s the best.)
It is important to mention I am an ATHF super fan. I randomly break into “Alabama Alabama Alabama…” yell “Juice!” when I’m excited, and my ringtone will forever stay the iconic theme song. This also means I will be critical AF and also have the time of my life celebrating the show’s return. Let’s begin.
ATHF starts off without skipping even a Meatwad beat. The opening comes in, and the sweet serenade of a theme song smacks me square across the face with new upgrades. The lyrics are the same, and the beat is almost the same. It just feels a little off. For all of the upgrades needed, I’m sure they felt like tweaking the theme song was the least risky, but for a stickler for nostalgia, I was less than enthused by the updated tune. After that, we’re thrust into the absurdity we remember. Shake is in a magic land where he has like a 12-pack and minions worshipping him. He’s playing some sort of game that is pretty much a one-year-olds Tetris where you put two squares together to make a rectangle.
You might be asking yourself, WTH is going on, but if you’ve ever watched or loved ATHF, you never ask that question. Never. It doesn’t matter because it turns out Shake has been playing a VR game for Lordt knows how long, and Frylock is relegated to smearing lip balm on his chapped lips and Meatwad to graffiti his crotch with superheroes. ANNNND, we’re back. Everything devolves as usual. I can’t remember if the TV explodes at some point, but I am 100% sure it probably does.
At first, I felt a bit scared, and I was present at the New York Comic Con premiere of the Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm. That film took you to the edge of WTF and pushed you off the cliff. I like to think that panel began the rumors of a ATHF return and spawned this new season. There is also a chance they already knew the show was coming back. Or they said we’re never going to get another go at it. Let’s make this the wildest episode of ATHF anyone has ever seen.
After seeing Plantasm, I wasn’t sure if what I watched of the new season was good or just weirdly modern grotesqueness. The animation was a bit sleeker and less blocky, which I was fine with. I was more critical than ever because I didn’t want it to fall into the realm of Futurama continuations. Let me explain before the Futurama fans get upset (because I am a Futurama fan, of course). Futurama was a late bloomer to the rest of the world. It came out just around the time that people were still experiencing The Simpsons like new and not numb enough to Family Guy yet. People just didn’t get it. Only until it made its way to Adult Swim did people really start to catch on to its expert writing, entertaining storylines, and phenomenal characterization. That means it felt like a resurgence. Futurama then began making new episodes to continue the genius, BUT nothing lasts forever. Once it was canceled, people were sad. We were sad. Then they brought it back! And it was not as great as its former self. After a little while, it returned to its former glory. Then got canceled again. Then came back and was meh, and now it’s back again. Do you see what I mean? It’s concerning that ATHF might go down this path. Dying and coming back to life over-and-over again. Instead of taking that anxiety trip, I gave in as usual to the stream-of-consciousness trip that I know and love. After the initial drop, the rollercoaster started to feel a bit familiar.
The Mic Rula
This brings us to episode two. Now that I’ve settled in and put my petty criticisms to the side, I still don’t like the remastered theme song, and the ending credits are equally upsetting. BUT the episode was excellent. It begins with Meatwad asking Shake if he’s practiced his sign language, and Shake literally uses his middle fingers to say no in so many obscene ways. I immediately knew it was A Quiet Place parody, and I was all in. The debauchery continues, and this time including classic Carl with some oomph, a nasty beard, and a fart to end all farts. I watched with much needed laughs and intrigue. This is starting to shape up to be the Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem or The Incredibles 2. It is a long-awaited return of our best friends. Puss in Boots waited eleven years to give us a second film. Not third or fourth a SECOND film. When we all thought, oh, I guess Puss in Boots in a one-hit wonder they said so sorry for the wait, here is your mf-ing gem. When we thought – oh do we need a one millionth reboot of Ninja Turtles? Not that the reboots have been bad, but there’s… so many. Mutant Mayhem gave us Yerrrr and a gaggle of the most adorable mutant turtles, and an April that inspired Blerd girls everywhere (and offended people because… racism.) So ATHF gave me the warm fuzzy feelings of hilarious disgust it had done before.
The Old Schoola
The episode continues with a repulsive ear alien who landed on the wrong planet, and of course, Frylock does his logical deed of fixing the mess while Meatwad, Carl, and Shake form a really well-done rock band. Trust, none of this is really spoilers because, take it from a superfan, there is nothing like experiencing ATHF through your own eye holes, no matter how much of the story you think you know.
In the end, this redo, reboot, continuation, or whatever, is worth a rewatch. Plus, I think I can get over the new theme song and terrible end credits to have my favorite demented lunch crew back.
Season 12 premieres on Adult Swim on Sunday, November 26 at 11:30 pm ET/PT. New episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force will also be available the next day on Max.