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November 22, 2014

Moral Orel: Elemental Orel

by Adam Finley, posted Dec 4th 2006 10:15AM

moral orel(S02E04) Sadness is nature's spankings. - Clay Puppington

Those of us who have been watching Moral Orel since the beginning know that the show is more complex than it appears on the surface. The inner tensions within his own family and the other grown ups in Moralton were hinted at in the first season and have come more into focus this season. I'm not a television writer, but I imagine trying to meld the funny and the emotional into an eleven-minute amalgam can't be easy, which is why I think the "slow reveal" approach has worked so well for Moral Orel. In this episode, when Orel finds out his mother might have another family, the scene doesn't feel like it was suddenly sprung on us out of nowhere, because Bloberta's unhappiness and detachment has been part of the show's subtext since it first aired a year ago.

What leads Orel to discover his mother's new family (which turns out to just be part of some sick fantasy game she's playing with Clay) is his new interest in detective work. Orel is trying to figure out who stole money from the church's collection plate, but since this is Moralton, a town ruled by whatever its inhabitants assume God's will to be, Orel becomes blinded by the obvious and blames the wrong person for the crime. After all, only an evil genius would dare to work on Sunday bringing food to crippled people, so it was obviously Marionetta and not Joe who took the money, even though all logic and empirical evidence points to Joe.

Taken one way, the episode could be seen as an indictment of creationist thinking, the habit of blindly accepting that God is responsible for everything despite the mountains of evidence suggesting biblical accounts may not be entirely accurate. However, I don't think that was the point of the episode. To me, it seemed to suggest that it is possible to have both faith and common sense. It reminded me of an exchange I had with my own father many years ago as he was trying to put up a flagpole in our yard: a lightening storm was starting to form overhead, and rather than let go of the large, metal, lightening-attracting pole, he simply said, "well, if God wants me to go, there's not much I can do."

To which I replied, "yeah, but don't you believe God gave you common sense, too?"

Side note: I was reading the Wikipedia page for Moral Orel, and came across this description of last week's "Satan" episode: "The storyline examines the enigmatic, and mostly homosexual Coach Stopframe, who jumps between loyalty to God or Satan as frequently as he gains and loses interest in both men and women."

I thought that looked familiar, so I checked my review from last week, which read in part: "This episode examines the enigmatic, mostly homosexual and definitely polyamorous Coach Stopframe, who jumps between loyalty to God or Satan as frequently as he gains and loses interest in both men and women."

I just wanted to take this moment to thank the community over at Wikipedia. It was an honor to be copy and pasted by you.

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