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Warner Home Video presents
Moral Orel: The Unholy Edition Vol. I (2005-2006)

Orel: Gosh, thanks for preparing me for the future, Dad. You're the best.
Clay: If I can make sure you're ready for the dead end bleakness of adulthood, then I've done my job

- (Carolyn Lawrence, Scott Adsit)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: May 07, 2007

Stars: Carolyn Lawrence, Scott Adsit, Jay Johnston, Britta Phillips, William Salyers
Other Stars: Ileen Goldsmith
Director: Dino Stamatopoulos, Chris McKay, Scott Adsit, Jay Johnston

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mature humor, language)
Run Time: 02h:53m:00s
Release Date: April 24, 2007
UPC: 053939784725
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A+B-B B

DVD Review

Cartoon Network's Adult Swim has programming in all shapes and sizes, and like the equally brief Robot Chicken, each Moral Orel episode runs about 12 minutes in length. But the show is still able to pack a lot of patently offensive funny into that short runtime, disguised as it is to look like a claymation cousin to the 1960s Lutheran series Davey and Goliath (oddly enough, an offshoot project of Gumby creator Art Clokey). Former Mr. Show writer and loose cannon Dino Stamatopoulos is the creative force behind the modern claymation antics of Moral Orel, which debuted in December of 2005 with the airing of the episode The Best Christmas Ever!

The series is set in the town of Moralton, Statesota (that's between Kansas and Missouri), and is built around the 'aw shucks' wide-eyed religious naivete of young Orel Puppington (voiced by Carolyn Lawrence). Orel's household is a dark variant on the standard issue 1950s concept of the nuclear family, with a stern, hard-drinking dad, a sexually repressed mother and a younger brother who speaks in guttural shrieks and is known only as Shapey. There's also a daft reverend, a homosexual coach, assorted broad ethnic stereotypes, and an unending stream of far right skewering that typically involves Orel trying to do something radically bizarre (selling his own urine or befriending a crack dealer) to prove his faithful adoration to his God. An important lesson is ultimately learned, usually the hard way, and most eps end with an implication that Orel is about to get belt-whipped by his father, all for his own good.

Much like South Park, Stamatopoulos imbues Moral Orel with a heaping mound of scathing satirical religious humor that is sure to offend, though I really doubt the conservative right would last past the opening credit sequence where God rips the roof off of a church. Sure, Stamatopoulos only has 12 minutes to get the job done, so the effect is concentrated—so when Orel visits a sex shop to inquire about getting a special piercing or purposely tries to break all ten commandments, there is very little room for unnecessary dialogue. It all comes together quickly, with the skewed conflict and oh-so-wrong resolution almost overlapping as perky young Orel tries his best, even if that means drinking alcohol (I mean "Maturity Juice").

Production values marry that old Davey and Goliath claymation look exceptionally well (Orel is truly Davey's clone), and that helps to sell Stamatopoulos' black humor with the proper mix of parody and homage. Visually, the show looks innocent, so when the frequently unspeakable things do occur, the effect is even more comedically tilted. And each ep has a little added treat during the closing credits, as Orel puts together his own stop-motion movie, featuring a rotating collection of religious figures in truly unusual scenes.

This two-disc "Volume One" set has 15 episodes, all of Season One and part of Season Two, presented in what was to be their original order (not the sequence that they were ultimately broadcast in). Not a big issue with regard to continuity, though there is one major subplot that does benefit from seeing the eps in the original production order. And as an added incentive, these are also presented uncensored, though to be honest the differences don't appear all that obvious to me, and I'm a regular Adult Swim viewer.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: All episodes are in their original 1.33:1 fullframe aspect ratio. No major complaints, as colors are bright throughout, though edges do appear fairly soft. The source prints are very clean, so there are no issues with debris/dirt to contend with.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in 2.0 stereo, and the mix is simple and effective, delivering clear voice quality consistently. Music sounds deep and full, there's some modest directional pans, and in general the mix sounds clean without being overdone.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
13 TV Spots/Teasers
6 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
3 Featurette(s)
8 Feature/Episode commentaries by Dino Stamatopoulos, Carolyn Lawrence, Scott Adsit, Jay Johnston, Britta Phillips, William Salyers, Ethan Marak, Jeff Gardner, Sarah Meyer, Nick Weidenfeld, Chris McKay
Packaging: Tri-Fold Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: This two-disc tri-fold case comes in a slipcover that features a heavily edited memo to creator Dino Stamatopoulos on the backside. Inside the foldout reveals a three-panel shot of the church interior, and includes an insert photo of the Rev. Putty character that is inscribed "Remember, Jesus is cool! The Revs."

Disc 1 carries ten episodes, five of which contain commentaries featuring a rotating and progressively more "exuberant" group, with Dino Stamatopoulos, Carolyn Lawrence, Scott Adsit, Jay Johnston, Britta Phillips, William Salyers, Ethan Marak, Jeff Gardner, Sarah Meyer, Nick Weidenfeld, and Chris McKay. It is someone difficult to know who's talking (save for Carolyn Lawrence and Britta Phillips), and all tend to talk over one another often. Very loose mood overall, though it is disturbing when producer Nick Weidenfeld talks of looking on the Internet after the initial airing of The Best Christmas Ever and reading that people were wishing he would get stomach cancer.

An easy to find Easter egg (:10s) can also be found.

Disc 2 carries three additional commentaries, again featuring the same gaggle of talent, only this time sounding far more "happy." Also there is a variety pack of supplements, especially the very uncomfortable The Awkward Comic Con Panel (27m:20s). Recorded at the San Diego Comic Con, what starts as a panel discussion with most of the main Adult Swim series creators misfires into a rambling verbal assault by Dino Stamatopoulos against Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick of The Venture Bros. It's a terrific train wreck to watch, made even more appealing by the optional commentaries from either Stamatopoulos or Hammer and Publick.

Behind The Scenes (09m:50s) focuses mostly on the creation of the opening and closing animation sequences, and gives fans a chance to see the creative process in action. The seven deleted scenes are pretty short, but it would be abundantly clear why they were cut, even if it weren't for the commentary telling us why. There's also a set of End Animations (02m:01s) showcasing the homemade movies made by Orel that close each episode, a set of 13 Moral Orel promos (06m:55s), 8 Adult Swim text bumps (02m:35s), and Dino As Revered Putty (:55s), in which Stamatopoulos tries his hand at voicing the character.



Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

When a show tries too hard to offend, sometimes the humor can get hopelessly lost. Not the case here, as each 12-minute episode manages to mercilessly march all over the religious right with a naive main character who loves his God just a little too much.

Highly recommended.

 


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