(Left to right: Scott Adsit, Jay Johnston and Dino Stamatopoulos)
Dino Stamatopoulos has written for some of the funniest cult comedy series in the last ten years, including Mr. Show, TV Funhouse, Tom Goes to the Mayor, and most recently Moral Orel, an oft-misunderstood stop-animated cartoon created by Stamatopoulos himself. He's also written for other series, including Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and Mad TV.
With the new second season of Moral Orel starting November 12, Stamatopoulos and I spoke on the phone about what fans could expect in the new season, and about TV comedy in general.
Ever since getting a Tivo a little over a year ago, I no longer watch TV shows when they actually air. When I'm not catching up with what's on my recorder, I'm either reading, listening to podcasts, or pounding out a blog post about what I'm watching on television. The big deletion from my Tivo Season Pass this year is House. I still admire the show, but for me the magic is gone. The season opener sat on my Tivo for quite a few days, unwatched. When I finally sat down to view it I realized, about fifteen minutes into it, that I had completely lost interest in it. I didn't even finish the episode, and took it off my Tivo for good. Perhaps my attitude will change in the coming weeks, but who knows? Anyway, some of these shows are winding down their current seasons, some have yet to air. All times are Central because I live in Minnesota.
(S01E02) This is an early review courtesy of Adult Swim Fix. The televised version will air Sunday late night on Adult Swim.
This initial season of Moral Orel has been shown entirely out of order due to issues with standards and practices, though it hasn't really affected the series all that much since every episode works as a stand-alone anyway. In this particular episode, Orel figures out a way that he can masturbate and not spur God's wrath, and I can only imagine what they had to cut out to make this acceptable for television.
The episode begins at Orel's school, probably the only public school where "Jesus" could be an answer on a science test. Orel decides to use the bathroom not to go "number one" or "number two," but to go "number three." He only learned about "number three" recently, and like most adolescent boys, he can't get enough of it. The janitor catches him in the act and sends him to the principal, who explains to Orel that masturbation is actually worse than murder, and spouts off this fractured logic: "Oral, there are some things that are burned so deep into a person's subconscious that you forget just why they're there. You only know that they've scarred you in such a horrible and personal way that they must be right."
Reverend Putty: Judas had a pretty good omelet face mask.
In this episode, Orel learns another important lesson from one of Reverend Putty's sermons, this time about loyalty and doing whatever it takes to make your friend happy. Orel decides to test this theory on Coach Stopframe's nephew Joe, willingly joining in such questionable activities as throwing rocks at cars, burning ants, and beating two sexually-curious young boys with baseball bats in the forest. We also get some more insight into Orel's parents, who we learn are both having an affair with Coach Stopframe.
Dad: You need to start behaving like more of an adult around here.
Orel: But dad, I'm only twelve.
Dad: That's no excuse. Why your own personal hero, Jesus, was very mature at your age.
Orel: He was?
Dad: Of course. At twelve he was already busy proving the Jews wrong.
It's been over two months since there has been a new episode of Moral Orel on Adult Swim. So far out of the ten episodes made for this season we've seen only seven, which means we have three episodes still unseen. It also means I can do basic math in my head. Good for me.
Anyway, last night I caught one of Adult Swim's always informative "bumps" which read that those "lost" episodes will air starting next Sunday. If you're a fan of the show like I am and you thought it had gone away, don't worry. Here's what's coming up:
Episode 9, "Maturity," will air on May 14.
Episode 8, "Loyalty," will air on May 21.
The second episode will also air, though they haven't announced a date for that one just yet. Of course, I'll be covering these episodes once again in all their blasphemous glory.
Any show that views religion through a satirical lens is bound to be misunderstood. The Simpsons dealt with religious themes from the beginning and caught a lot of flak until it became clear that the target of its humor was not "God" but rather how human beings interpret religion and spirituality. The same could be said for South Park, especially with the recently vilified "Bloody Mary" episode. While South Park's approach is certainly more abrasive, neither it nor The Simpsons ever denies that God exists. The satirical crosshairs are always pointed directly at us lowly terrestrial beings.
Adult Swim has been showing episodes of Moral Orel out of order. Every episode is more or less self-contained, so it doesn't affect things too much, but once in awhile there will be a reference to an episode which hasn't aired yet. I just imagine Quentin Tarantino is directing in his non-linear style. Or something.
Last night's episode began with church and a sermon from Reverend Putty about the importance of being a good husband and tending to the needs of one's wife. The sermon takes an uncomfortable turn when Reverend Putty explains he's Protestant and not Catholic and can still "play the field." Women, however, just aren't interested in him.
Oral's Class - ...and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God and Jesus Christ who died on the Cross for all of our sins and then rose on the third day, indivisible, with liberty and justice for most.
In the latest episode of Moral Orel, Orel Puppington learns that God is everywhere, even inside you and me. This leads the young lad to believe he too is infallible, which gets him in trouble at school when he insists the textbooks are wrong and God is giving him all the correct answers. Undaunted, Oral and his inner pal God decide to skip school and hit the town.
Shut up, Jesus. -Orel, while on crack
I'd like to kick off this episode recap by recalling, again, some of the funny products shown during last night's episode of Moral Orel:
KLUM-Z Caucasian Band-Aids
Hard Milk (spiked milk that Orel's dad drinks before church)
HIV Away (a doctor sprays it on a needle before drawing blood from Orel's arm)
Dad: Only track? Young man, track is very important for your future. What happens when you grow up and need to sprint thirty meters to the unemployment office?
Orel: I never thought about it that way.
Dad: Kids your age seldom do. It's called "stupidity" and it's a very natural thing.