Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Superjail! – season 2

I'm not sure what it is about Superjail! that keeps me coming back, but there is something.

Season 2, despite a change of animation studios (from Augenblick to Titmouse, the animation studio of Chris Prynoski, who won much acclaim for the fantastic hallucination sequence from Beavis and Butthead Do America), was more of the same. There were a few hints that the studio had changed – a bit more wildness in the Warden’s reality-bending, some sloppier art and some extra fluidity – but they were really very minor, and the style remained much like the first seasons. As did the jokes, the fetish for violence and the resolutely politically incorrect humour. 

Over the course of the scant ten episodes, The Warden and co have a Wacky Race, ruin a gay marriage, attempt to replace Jailbot and encounter various alien races. The twins suffer more than they did in the original run, we find out just how far along Alice is in her transitioning and it all ends on a cliffhanger, ready for this autumn’s season 3. 

Somehow, the limited premise never wears thin, the stupid ideas for weekly stories manage to get fresh spins on them and the characters remain oddly likeable despite being freakish stereotypes. I think a large part of it is the sheer exuberance of animation on display, which reminds me of old Golden Age morphology: if the storyboarders/ director decides that it would make sense for the Warden to change form several times over the course of a sentence, including into a chimney funnel, why not? It’s expressive, it’s strange and it gives everything a weird spark just not seen elsewhere.

Superjail! is successful because it doesn’t need to explain itself. It just does what it wants. It’s not for everyone, but rather to my surprise, it’s for me.

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