Sealab 2021, along with the shows Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, Cartoon Planet and the Brak Show (derived from the 1966 series of Space Ghost cartoons with limited animation) and Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law (derived from late 1960s super hero animated series, fully animated for HB:AAL) were some of the first programs made for [adult swim] and although Cartoon Planet had a Pee-Wee's Playhouse vibe to it when it first aired, the remaining shows were aimed at adult audiences.
In this series, the crew of Sealab is put into various adult situations you wouldn't have seen in Sealab 2020.
Led by their incompetent, jerky Captain Murphy; Marco, Debbie, Stormy and Dr. Quinn are to help run Sealab, but somehow the Sealab complex blows up, because of Captain Murphy.
As this show has no "set" continuities, the following episode "automagically" repairs back to before the complex explodes.
Although they hired Erik Estrada (a rather big name in TV) as Marco, the show was stolen by Harry Goz as Captain Murphy. So much so, that if Captain Murphy had an outrageous line, there was a special type of beat dubbed by fans as the "Murphy Pause", which was intended to have awkward silence.
Being this show was created in the early days of [adult swim], this show was rated TV-14, which was the highest severity of the TV rating system for Cartoon Network, prior to [adult swim] branching off into being separated from Cartoon Network and allowing shows like Robot Chicken to push into TV-MA territory. The show does contain sexual themes, crude humor, brief (but pixilated) nudity and foul language (which a majority of the bleeped material was coming from FCC agents searching for Captain Murphy's pirate radio signal in the episode "Radio Free Sealab")
Extras include one of the two pilots presented to Cartoon Network prior to the launch of [adult swim], an alternate ending to one episode and an uncensored segment of "Radio Free Sealab" (although some may beg to differ that it was best left censored. Have not seen it yet.)
Overall, I have seen 12 of this season's 13 episodes. I have yet to see "Swimming In Oblivion" but if you're into messed up humor, I dare you to see what launched [adult swim] into a popular late night institution.
I bought this because I found out that the people who made Archer also made this. I'm a big Archer fan. This was their first series and it shows. It doesn't have the level of sophistication of Archer in terms of story-writing and art. This series is the Archer creators finding their way. I was mildly amused and then I put it on a shelf for a while, being somewhat disappointed. After a few weeks I decided to give it another try. It began to grow on me. Since then I've watched it a number of times with a fair amount of enjoyment and am glad I bought it.
Sealab 2021 is one of the best cartoons I've ever seen, and season one is best of all for three reasons.
Firstly the original show was made using stolen material. When Adam Reed and Matt Thompson were fired from Cartoon Network in 1995 they stole the cells of Sealab 2020 (an old television that was in the vein of Clutch Cargo and a lot of other mid-50's and early 60's Hanna Barbera action shows) and made a short entitled "Gert" still utilizing the Sealab name (This "Gert" Pilot is available on the Sealab Season 3 DVD). Later that year or early the next year they produced the superior, but still independent bare-bones cartoon Pitch Pilot for $12.00 (Available on this Season One DVD set) which they submitted and later sold to Cartoon Network - the same place they stole the original animation from!
Secondly this has the strongest plots of the seasons of Sealab. Although the show relies on a lot non-plot derived comedy, fairly similair to Family Guy, Season One is definitely full of the strongest and funniest stories and gags. The insanity ranges from a Predator rip-off in the aptly named episode, "Predator", to Howlin' Mad Captain Murphy launching his own pirate radio station in the now legendary "Radio Free Sealab". This season is centered around Captian Murphy and his interaction with the crew, which brings me to the third reason that this is the strongest season of Sealab.
Harry Goz... Harry, what can you say about the voice of Captian Murphy? He was a comedy genious. So much so that the entire first season pretty much relies on what I've come to call the Muphy Pause. Essentially an uncomfortable silence that results from some random insane quip that silences anyone who hears it. Unlike the characters on the show though, the Murphy Pause leaves you rolling on the floor laughing. The way that Harry is able to play off the madness of his character and channel it into pure comedy genious is beyond me. Since most of the episodes from season one center around Capt. Murphy you can't go wrong! Murphy transforms into the Hulk("All That Jazz"), nearly get's the crew of Deep Diver mauled by a Giant Squid("Happcake"), has Sealab decorated and subsequently nearly destroyed by a floatin', flyin', light glowin' kung-fu fightin' karate Feng Shui Master ("Feng Shui Master"). Not to mention forgeting his lines as we travel behind the scenes of Sealab 2021 and meet the cast in the fabricated 'real lives' of the actors on Sealab("Swimming In Oblivion").
Unfortunately the discs are over-priced. Although Season One contains the best episodes of the entire series, this set has the worst special features. At eleven minutes an episode, eight episodes when encoded as nicely as these are, and they are beautifully mastered (even my father who had never seen the show and where's coke bottle glasses commented on how good the show looked) does fill up a DVD. This explain the second DVD but it doesn't explain the lack of special features. In the later seasons they've included bonuse episodes and offered commentary on episodes. But the second DVD contains only one real special feature, The Pitch Pilot. This is only for serious die-hard Sealab collector's. Not even the fans, you won't be a fan of this episode, I assure you of this. They do preface the episode by saying it stinks, but this episode is so bad I can not watch it. I did one time, and I probably won't ever again (It's not as bad as the "Gert" Pilot but it's awful ayways). The only other special features are an alternate ending SCENE from, "I, Robot" and an uncensored end SEQUENCE that ran during the credits of "Radio Free Sealab". Unfortunately the scene is funnier the way that they showed it on Cartoon Network, with the censor beeps left in. The lame alternate ending to "I, Robot" isn't very funny either though it was a little funnier that the original. Not much. The price is high but this is such a funny show it's definitely worth it, I promise.
In my never to be humble, if you're going to buy any of these, this one is a must have! You get "Happycake", "Radio Free Sealab, "Little Orphan Angry", "Waking Quinn" and the one where Quinn goes on vacation, if you can stand it. Let's not forget my all time favorite, "Lost in Time" What about "All That Jazz", where the vending machine falls on Murph?! Never saw the original series; first run ('73) just about the time I started my paper route. Since have seen several episodes. ("He's in there watching cartoons, I guess...") Sort of designed to make us get into science class a little more? I would have filed for an educational media grant! The Adult Swim retooling of the few Hanna-Barbera series absolutely knocked me out. Brilliant move. Hope they see fit to do more.
I'd say this is the best season of the show, but I really liked season 2 also. I wonder if they made them back to back or all at once? Absolute classic adult swim style humor and if you're here looking at and considering buying this you probably already know what you're getting into.
In the year 2020 Hank Murphy had it all. A happy family, a successful career, the love and adoration of his peers. Then something happened.
The pivotal event in Captain Murphy's life is never revealed to the viewer, rather we are given a select series of short vignettes which meditate on his descent into madness. Through these glimpses one is given heretofore unprecedented insight into the human condition.
Can something be so retarded that it's brilliant? well, Sealab answered that question with a mighty yes. Every episode has a plot that seems as if they were written by a drugged up social science professor. The jokes may be repetitive at times, but that's just part of their charm.
I've seen people moaning and whining about the animation, and that to me is just a testament to how people seriously don't get this show. It's SUPPOSED to look like that, it's a parody of sorts. Most of the shows look like photoshopped versions of their original, that's part of the show's charm. There was an episode where they only show a picture of sealab while the characters continue with their dialogue, dialogue that I find charming and quick to the point like Aqua Teen.
For the price tag...it's only 20 something dollars. C'mon now, I wanted more episodes as well, and I know that you could fit double the amount of episodes on both DVDs, but it's still a great price.
Oh yes, for the person that called Courage The Cowardly dog an "abomination of American mediocre toonists", you obviously don't know what you're talking about. Courage, along with Time Squad and Samurai Jack, are just a few of the shows given on cartoon network that have something other shows don't have, well two actually, and that is ORIGINALITY and most of all, PERSONALITY. Unfortunately, no one appreciates them, so we're bound to be stuck with cartoons that are going to do nothing but try and be like everything else.
I sure as heck don't want every cartoon to be like Futurama or The Simpsons. While those are excellent, everything else doesn't need to mimic them. I wouldn't have Aqua Teen or Sealab, or even Courage the Cowardly Dog if we followed that way of thinking. These shows do in 11 minute episodes what it takes others an entire half an hour to do.
Buy this, it'll be the best twenty dollar purchase you'll make in a while. That is, until volume 2 appears.
I don't like all adult swim shows but this is still a classic, up there with some of my other favorites Harvey Birdman, Tom Goes to Mayor, Robot Chicken, Tim & Eric, Delocated, NTSF, Childrens Hospital. Hilarious characters having stupid discussions in ridiculous situations.