Sealab 2021: Season 2 (DVD)
Oh, what a difference a year makes. The crew of classic 1972 series Sealab 2020 has been replaced with a gang of misfits unfit for public service. Their mission: to investigate underwater colonization. They are doing a very bad job.
The second season of Sealab 2021, the Cartoon Network's certifiably bizarre reworking of Hanna-Barbera's earnest 1972 animated series Sealab 2020, surfaces in a two-disc set that includes an unaired episode and supplemental features that place a strong emphasis on "mental." For series devotees, season 2 is a must-have, thanks to its lineup of memorable episodes, including "Stimutacs," which fans voted as the series' best episode; the behind-the-scenes chaos of "Swimming in Oblivion"; "Hail, Squishface," which tosses jabs at Star Trek's "Trouble with Tribbles" episode; and the aptly named "Bizarro," which pits the Sealab crew against their evil doubles.
As with most Adult Swim programming from Cartoon Network, viewers will either "get" Sealab 2021, or find its kitchen-sink loopiness indigestible, but one has to admire the producers' ability to spin this recycled footage into the most outlandish plots with such regularity. Said producers (co-creators Adam Reed and Matt Thompson) are present on some freewheeling commentary tracks for all 13 episodes in the set, though viewers hoping for some insight into the show might find the chatter mostly dispensable; however, the inclusion of a rough cut of "Ronnie," the series' only unaired episode, more than makes up for the commentaries, as do hilarious interviews with the cast (which includes Erik Estrada and Brett Butler), and a tour of the production company, both of which are dominated by girls in bikinis (who also give a read-through of the script for "Der Dieb"). The sole sober note on the set is struck by an affectionate tribute to voice-over legend Harry Goz, who provided the voice for the addled Captain Murphy before passing away in 2003. It's rare for a DVD's supplemental extra to match the same tone as the main feature, but the season 2 set manages to stay nearly 100% Bizarro from start to finish. --Paul Gaita