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Sealab 2021: Season Three

Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming (shown at late night, and targeted at the college and college-minded crowd) has created a specific Adult Swim vocabulary that lends a consistency to their entire line-up. From "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" to "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast," each show trades in non sequiturs, and usually have the main characters set up in premises that are used tangentially, at best. For instance, in "ATHF" the stars are ostensibly a fast-food meal turned crime fighters, but they haven't really fought crime since the first season. As for the characters of Sealab 2021, though stuck in a sea lab, there is little lab work. By the series' third season, it could be argued the creators knew exactly what they were doing, and the show has become consistent in its oddities. But it's often more modestly amusing than laugh-out-loud funny (a trap the Cartoon Network shows often fall into). The same crew is back: Captain Murphy (voiced by Harry Goz) is a befuddled buffoon of a leader, who in the episode "Red Dawn" becomes an Orwellian Communist who threatens to blow up the United States. Dr. Quinn (Brett Butler) is the sensible member of the crew, but he's also the team's drunk, and he dates the ship's main female character Debbie Dupree (Kate Miller). They often argue, like in "Craptastic Voyage," where they shrink to kill a tumor in homage to both Fantastic Voyage and Star Wars. The goofy Marco (Erik Estrada), the dim 'Stormy' Waters (Ellis Henican), and the always-seated Sparks (Bill Lobley) round out the main cast. This season adds two new recurring characters, Debbie Love (Angela Gibbs), the only other female and other black character, and — with the passing of Harry Goz halfway through the season — the introduction of Tornado Shanks (voiced by Michael Goz, Harry's son) as the new captain. The highlight of the set is easily the episode that gets nuttier the further it goes along: "Dearly Beloved Seed" has Tornado insist that Debbie marry the transvestite (and bi-sexual) Hesh ("MC Chris" Ward) to provide him with an heir, only for Hesh not only to rap, but prove he is "The One" Neo-style. Warner presents Sealab 2021: Season Three across two-discs with good full-frame transfers (1.33:1) and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Disc One features nine episodes, with four episodes offering audio commentaries that bear little relevance to the material at hand. Disc Two includes the remaining four episodes and the supplemental material: the audition episode "The Gert Pilot" (13 min.) and two abandoned episodes, "Quinmas" (8 min.) and "Dearly Beloved" (8 min.), the latter restructured as "Dearly Beloved Seed." Also included is "Kitty Fun-Fun" (7 min.), in which a sock puppet interacts with homeless people to create promos, while "Stormy Waters, Pundit" (7 min.) is Waters ruminating on current events. Dual-DVD digipak with paperboard slipcase.

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