1. US animated tv series (2010-2017). Cartoon Network. Created by J G Quintel. Executive producers include Curtis Lelash, Brian A Miller, Jennifer Pelphrey, J G Quintel and Rob Sorcher. Writers include Michele Cavin, John Davis Infantino, Matt Price, J G Quintel, Mike Roth and Sean Szeles. Voice cast includes Robert Englund, Mark Hamill, Minty Lewis, Sam Marin, J G Quintel and William Salyers. 261 eleven-minute episodes, plus 15 shorts and the pilot. Colour.
23-year-old slackers Mordecai (Quintel), an occasionally responsible bluejay, and Rigby (Salyers) a self-centred raccoon, are park employees trying to keep their actual work to a minimum, which frustrates their boss Benson (Marin), a gumball machine. Other colleagues include the wise and competent Skips (Hamill), an immortal Yeti; and an old-fashioned top-hatted gentleman, Pops (Marin), a lollipop. Though set in the present day, a 1980s mood permeates: the two main protagonists say "Dude" a lot and VHS tapes remain unusurped.
Series 1-7 usually find Mordecai and/or Rigby trying to rectify a minor work or social activity that has got absurdly out of hand, often through their own unwise choices. These frequently involve sf tropes: there is much Time Travel, 2,000 years frozen in Suspended Animation, future and past selves, many Monsters, journeys into the mind (see Inner Space), Intelligence boosting, Videogames encroaching on reality, evil Computers, cavemen (see Anthropology; Prehistoric SF), Immortality, trips to the Moon, Time Distortion, other Dimensions including the one where you go after drinking too much milk, Clones, Aliens, Robots, Rejuvenation, Mecha, Cyborgs and Miniaturization; as well as numerous fantasy tropes. Stories take bizarre turns, with the humour as likely to be funny peculiar as funny ha-ha: the influence of British comedy shows such as The Mighty Boosh (2003-2007) has been confirmed by Quintel. There is continuity but lessons are rarely learnt.
Sf tropes became particularly prominent at the end of the series' run: a film (see 2 below) was released in 2015, whilst a biodome built over the park during season seven is revealed in its last episode to be a Spaceship, lifting off from Earth, to set up season eight: "Regular Show in Space". Here the cast, joined by Rigby's girlfriend, the mole girl Eileen (Lewis), are brought to a giant Space Station and told they will be trained as Space Tree Rangers to turn space wildernesses into public parks (Terraforming). A succession of light adventures follow, save one where Pops suffers Dream Hacking, indicating he has become a person of malevolent interest. Later the plot kicks in: the good half of a pair of twins, Pops is an adopted Alien; his evil sibling Anti-Pops (Englund) pursues the team across space, wishing to capture him.
Every 14 billion years the Pops battle for dominance, but each occasion ends in stalemate with the universe resetting and history repeating (see Cosmology; Time Loop): however, this time Mordecai and Rigby are caught between them at the moment of reset. So history reruns, which we rejoin at season one, episode one; but early on the pair remember the future and, using the wish-granting typewriter from that episode, go forward to the end, interrupting events. This gives Pops the opportunity to hug Anti-Pops and drag him into a sun, to their deaths. The show ends with a montage under David Bowie's "Heroes" as the survivors find happiness but solemnly remember Pops.
Though Mordecai had been the lead protagonist for most of its run, the film (see 2 below) gives some character growth to Rigby and season eight has Pops stepping up from the supporting cast. The closing episode also incorporated many nods indicating that this odd and engaging Television show was coming to an end.
2. Regular Show: The Movie. US animated film (2015). Cartoon Network. Produced by Ryan Slater. Directed by J G Quintel. Screenplay by J G Quintel and Sean Szeles. Cast comprises the cast of the Regular Show television series (see 1 above), plus Jason Mantzoukas. 69 minutes. Colour.
In the future the Intergalactic Park Rangers seek to destroy the Timenado created when Mordecai and Rigby blew up the science lab in high school, which held the prototype Time Machine built by their teacher, Mr Ross (Mantzoukas). His future self is using the Timenado to suck up Earth's timeline (for remarkably petty reasons: Rigby's horseplay prevented his team from winning the State Championship volleyball tournament). They fail, so the only survivor, a fatally wounded Rigby, goes back to tell present day Mordecai and Rigby to travel to the past and stop their earlier selves from accidentally setting fire to the science lab. Just before he dies he adds that, in the future, the two are no longer friends – it is Mordecai, now allied with Mr Ross, who shot him.
The pair and their colleagues use future Rigby's timeship to try and change the past: they do destroy the time machine, but future Mr Ross has followed them and simply replaces it with a working one. Mordecai now learns that his college application had been successful, but past Rigby told him otherwise, because he had failed and selfishly wished to prevent their friendship breaking up. Meanwhile, the rest of the present day park staff have joined the Intergalactic Park Rangers to help destroy the Timenado; Rigby catches up with them in future Mordecai's timeship and he and Mordecai defeat Mr Ross and destroy the Timenado. Rigby makes an apology to Mordecai, which he philosophically accepts. Back in the past, earlier Rigby apologizes to Mr Ross for ruining the volleyball tournament, which he too accepts. So the Timenado is averted, without Time Paradoxes: save that present day Mordecai and Rigby now have a timeship.
The film had a limited theatrical release before being broadcast on television. Less focused on humour than the series, but still entertaining, it concentrates more on the Mordecai/Rigby relationship, along with some SF adventure. [SP]
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