Saturday, January 03, 2009

the Blasphemous Brilliance of Moral Orel


I'll freely admit -- in the beginning, I was not a fan of the show, or of just about anything on Adult Swim. I had seen a couple of the early episodes, and to me it seemed like little more than an irreverent poke at Davey and Goliath, dragging the characters through the mud for laughs.

But something happened around the end of season 2 -- the show transformed into something exceptional. I wouldn't even have known, because my original impression stuck with me, except that I've been hanging out with some friends who keep Cartoon Network on all the time, day and night. And of all the shows on Adult Swim, Moral Orel is probably the least stupid and offensive (hmm... faint praise, but it gets a lot better).

Little by little, I got to know the characters and the situations, so I was primed when I suddenly saw the season 2 closer... a 2-parter called Nature, about a hunting trip Orel shared with his father. I caught it on the Moralthon for New Year's Eve. And suddenly I was riveted -- compelled by an irresistible force that wouldn't let me look away. I was literally stunned by the sheer power of the writing. Deep, dark stuff.... definitely not for the faint-hearted!! But brilliantly done. I'm still in awe.... and at this moment I'll go out on a limb and say it's the most powerful stuff I've ever seen on a TV series, broadcast OR cable!

And after that bombshell, as I was still trying to get my breath back, season 3 started to unspool.... episode after episode building on the brilliance I had just witnessed. Let's say I consider Moral Orel to be a rare gem spawned in the sewer that is Adult Swim.

Another great thing about the show I'd like to comment on is continuity.

Most cartoons follow a simple formula... no matter what happens, everything is restored to default for the beginning of the next episode. Even if they kill Kenny. But on Moral Orel when something happens, it stays. One of the funniest things for me was when Orel's baby brother Shapey got accidentally switched with the neighbor's kid, who looked almost the same except for different colored hair. Oral was the only one who noticed!!! For the rest of season 2 (if not longer?) the parents failed to notice, and even when Oral tried to tell them, they interrupted him.

Little touches like this really make the show shine. References to things that happened in earlier episodes might be lost on you if you haven't seen it, but if you have it adds a lot to the entertainment value, and really, it shows that the creators of the show credit the viewers with some intelligence, unlike the creators of most cartoons shows today. Watching an entire season is a very rewarding experience.

Huge congratulations to animation director Ethan Marak and of course to creator Dino Stamatopolous, and all the rest... including a host of very familiar names. You can go to and watch any or all of the episodes. Strider's highest recommendation, but viewer discretion is definitely called for!


jriggity said...

Yeah took me a few going to develop the aquired taste of the show.

I didnt quite know if it was ok to laugh at times...

it definately is very cool and I enjoy it when I catch it.


Ethan said...

I'm so glad you are enjoying Moral Orel season 3! Everyone worked really hard to infuse some real emotion into the characters.

Edwound Wisent said...

(^ so why not offer doug Beswick a job? i think he worked on so many Davey and Goliath shows he might have fun poking at his past.
(^ last I hear he might be working at some game company.
(^ who knows how long that'll last.

(^ wyrd verif: prepo = prep preps prep o

Anonymous said...

The show was awesome. The last episode of Season 3, though, is a real kick in the heart.

"Goodbye goodbye".

Best of luck to Dino on his future endeavors. He is a talented writer.

Darkstrider said...

Yeah, that was a sad moment... especially watching Oral packing away all his stopmotion gear, and then the surprising "goodbye goodbye", which was always
Hello goodbye" before.