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The Aqua Teens Are Dead!

Long live the Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1!

By / Posted on 27 April 2011

Aqua Teen Hunger ForceCartoon Network’s Adult Swim announced via video press release this week that one of its very first original programs, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, is no more. This really shouldn’t surprise anyone, as the cult hit has significantly dropped in popularity and relevance in the decade since its genre-breaking premiere. 100 episodes and a feature-length theatrical film is a damn good run for any animated series, and so Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad do graciously fade into the horizon to make way for the animated voices of the future…

…or maybe just undergo a format change for their eighth season.

Dr WeirdYes, season eight premieres May 8th, 2011, under the new title Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1. Show co-creator Dave Willis confirmed that the show is going back to its roots by having the anthropomorphic food items star as a supernatural crime-fighting detective agency – a premise that was hastily conceived of in order to trick Cartoon Network’s untested mature programming department into picking up the show as they had no interest in an absurdist comedy about dicking around in New Jersey. Also returning are Dr. Weird and his assistant Steve who’ve been absent from the program since season 2 (not counting the feature, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters) and recurring character/actor George Lowe (star of the Adult Swim prototype Space Ghost: Coast to Coast). One thing that is not returning is the infectious old-school hip-hop theme song by Schoolly D, replaced by this new action-packed number by Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age:

Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1 Theme

While it certainly seems likely that these changes will only be temporary, lasting an episode or two, we hope that a new direction breathes fresh life into the stagnating series. Willis and co-creator Matt Maiellaro have each tried their hands at creating other original animated comedies with varying degrees of failure (Squidbillies and 12 oz. Mouse, respectively), programs that each had their merits but certainly suffered from being from only one of the two creators of Aqua Teen. Perhaps combining their efforts into a new core concept will produce better results.

Change can be good. Just look at Willis and Maiellaro’s contemporaries Adam Reed and Matt Thompson. Those guys created Sealab 2021, which premiered alongside Aqua Teen Hunger Force in the initial Adult Swim lineup. When the time came to wrap up Sealab, Reed and Thompson applied the same absurdist situational comedy to implausible espionage with Frisky Dingo, and when Dingo‘s time was up they took the evolved art style and unique blend of summer blockbuster action and alternative comedy dialogue to their hit series Archer. A format change may just be the best thing to happen to the Aqua Teens in years. That said, we wouldn’t be surprised to seem them back in New Jersey, setting Carl’s lawn on fire before the audience even acknowledges the new direction.

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Derrick Sanskrit has produced critically-acclaimed work as an artist and writer for Nerve, Babble, Pitchfork, The Onion and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, among others. He founded The Pop Aesthetic during the coldest months of his life in 2010.