Superjail!

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Superjail!
Superjail!.jpg
Title card for Superjail!
Genre Black comedy
Surreal humor
Splatter
Slapstick
Created by Christy Karacas[1]
Stephen Warbrick[1]
Ben Gruber[1]
Developed by Augenblick Studios
Voices of David Wain
Christy Karacas
Teddy Cohn
Christopher McCulloch
Richard Mather
Dana Snyder
Eric Bauza
Opening theme

"Comin' Home" by Cheeseburger featuring Doc[2]

"Rubber Bullets" by 10cc (pilot only)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 36 (and 1 pilot) (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Christy Karacas
Stephen Warbrick
Ben Gruber
Producer(s) Shannon Prynoski
Chris McCulloch (consulting)
Running time 11 minutes
Production company(s) Williams Street
Augenblick Studios (2007–2008)
Titmouse, Inc. (2011–present)
Broadcast
Original channel Adult Swim
Picture format 4:3 SDTV (pilot only)
16:9 HDTV
Original run Pilot:
May 13, 2007
Episode 1 sneak peek:
April 1, 2008
Official:
September 28, 2008  – present
External links
Website

Superjail! is an American animated television series produced by Augenblick Studios in its first season, and by Titmouse, Inc. in its second and third seasons. A fourth season was confirmed on David Wain's Twitter,[3] who voices The Warden character. The series follows the events that take place in an unusual prison.[4] The pilot episode aired on television on May 13, 2007, and its first season began on September 28, 2008. Superjail! is characterized by its psychedelic shifts in setting and plot and extreme graphic violence, which give the series a TV-MA-V (for graphic violence, including scenes of bloodshed, dismemberment, torture, and extreme cruelty) rating.[5] These elements are depicted through highly elaborate animated sequences, which have been described as "baroque and complicated and hard to take in at a single viewing". [6]

Setting and premise[edit]

The majority of Superjail! is set inside the eponymous prison, located in an alternate dimension identified as "5612." Externally, Superjail is built underneath a volcano which is itself located inside of a larger volcano. Internally, it seems to constitute its own reality, where the fabric of time and space is extremely fluid and changes at the whim of the Warden. It has been indicated that the prison itself has a degree of sentience, and that the nature of the prison is fluid according to the perceptions of the individual. Superjail's inmate population is stated by Jared to be in excess of 70,000, although the show's creators mention that the jail processes "billions of inmates". Superjail is overseen by an individual known only as "The Warden," an amiable psychopath with apparently magical powers who uses the prison (and prisoners) to satisfy his numerous whims.

In the first season, each episode begins with a linear story revolving around an irresponsible scheme concocted by the Warden to satisfy some personal desire. The episode builds up in both violence and surrealism into a climactic, psychedelic blood bath during which dozens of inmates are brutally or gruesomely murdered, either by one another or some external force. Some episode plots have no resolutions at all, with the story simply stopping when events have reached their most chaotic. Regardless, the status quo is always restored by the next episode unless the episode is a multi-part one.

Beginning with the second season, the creators modified the format of the series to focus more on character development and story, as imagined by a revised writing staff.[7] The second season premiere "Best Friends Forever" demonstrated an immediate break from the first season's template, focusing the episode on Jailbot and Jacknife as opposed to the Warden, setting half of the episode outside of the prison, and lacking an extended murder sequence in the climax.

The third season of the show attempted to meld the formats of the first two seasons, continuing a focus on character development and ongoing storylines while reviving the technique of ending each episode with a complex murder sequence.[8]

Theme song[edit]

The theme song for the show is "Comin' Home" sung by the group Cheeseburger. An acoustic version (also sung by Cheeseburger) can be heard as the opening to the episode Time Police Part 2, when, after the shutdown of Superjail, Jacknife is sent to a real-world prison after attempting to rob a bank. The song is used in every episode except for two: the pilot Bunny Love, and The Budding of the Warbuxx. Bunny Love opens with "Rubber Bullets" by 10cc (which was supposed to be the show's theme song originally, but was changed, as "Rubber Bullets"'s rights were too expensive for the show to use), and The Budding of the Warbuxx has no opening song.

Starting from Season 4, the episodes' pre-opening sequences no longer feature the "Comin' Home" theme.

Influences[edit]

In an interview, creator Christy Karacas said influences for the show include Tex Avery, Child art, Bob Clampett, Vince Collins ("Malice in Wonderland"), Sally Cruikshank, Dave and Max Fleischer, The Itchy & Scratchy Show, Looney Tunes, Mad, The Muppets, Yellow Submarine, Outsider art, Gary Panter, Pee-wee's Playhouse, Schoolhouse Rock!, Earthworm Jim, Dr. Seuss, and Underground comix.[9]

Characters[edit]

  • The Warden (David Wain) – the proprietor of Superjail. A tall and thin man clad in a purple tailcoat and top hat, gloves, red cummerbund, and yellow-tinted glasses, the Warden has been described as a "sadistic Willy Wonka".[10] Although he possesses an ever-cheerful and optimistic demeanor, he is a severely twisted, deranged individual due to his upbringing by a cruel and strict father who was also a warden. As a result, the Warden devised Superjail as a means for expressing himself and regularly endangers the lives of Superjail prisoners and staff, often intentionally, to satisfy some unusual whim. Rather than handling any actual administrative tasks, he spends most of his time lusting after chief guard Alice or indulging his own bizarre fantasies. In one episode depicting an alternate future, the Warden ruthlessly subjugates the entire human race, turning the whole world into a single prison state. The Warden also has the ability to break the laws of reality as he can transform himself into practically anything and can contort his body in unnatural ways. These transformations are usually done to illustrate his point.
  • Jared (Teddy Cohn) – Superjail's large-headed, long-moustached, uptight/high-strung accountant and the Warden's primary assistant. Jared handles most of Superjail's administrative duties as well as extracurricular activities, such as the Superjail Newspaper. He was first taken to Superjail as a prisoner for unknowingly working for the mafia, and got his job when he impressed the Warden with his intelligence and financial skills (An allusion to The Shawshank Redemption). He is in recovery for, according to the show's creators, every addiction possible, including alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, sex addiction, and compulsive eating. Periodically, Jared suffers relapses into his addictions, especially when he is stressed out or temptation proves to be too much for him.
  • Alice (Christy Karacas) – the hulking, muscular head guard of Superjail, who is transgender and regularly engages in sadomasochistic rituals with the prisoners (often without their consent), though she rebuffs the Warden's constant advances. She was originally a male guard at a normal prison who got a sex change when she fell in love with that prison's warden. However, she was fired as a result of the prison's warden ultimately turning out to be homosexual and deeming her a monster, but was hired by the Warden shortly after.[11] While Alice is apparently taking hormone therapy (to the point that she has grown breasts), she becomes angered when anyone refers to her as male, and publicly considers herself a woman. The season two finale directly states that she has not yet undergone genital reconstruction surgery (the show also makes a point of showing off Alice's still-present male genitalia as a running gag -artistically portrayed as a prominent bulge under her clothing -on a constant basis).
  • Jailbot – a tombstone-shaped levitating robot that the Warden made to perform tasks in and around Superjail. He was created by the Warden himself, and kills innocents without mercy while capturing Jacknife during the show's opening sequence, and inmates at other times. In the episode "Jailbot 2.0", the Warden claims that Jailbot single-handedly built the vast prison, but flashbacks suggest that Jailbot is really the latest in a series of similar robots. He is mute, with a dot matrix screen that displays a simple expressive face.[9] Despite his ruthlessness, Jailbot also possesses a childlike personality, protecting the Warden from any harm and watching out for the welfare of young children who come across his path, however, he can be cold and ruthless to children who are mean to him; Christy Karacas described him as a "red headed stepchild... seeking approval." He has even shown compassion for Jacknife, releasing him and allowing his escape in "Best Friends Forever".[11]
  • The Doctor (Christopher McCulloch) – the resident physician of Superjail. He regularly experiments on the inmates in grotesque ways, and has a German accent, but at times says words in French. It was revealed in 'Vacation' that he fought in World War II and was at one point a POW.
  • The Twins (Richard Mather) – green-blooded, blond, identical twin aliens with European-sounding accents who inhabit a laboratory underneath Superjail and wear outfits resembling those worn by the Sandmen in Logan's Run. They took a year abroad trip to Earth and then decided to stay, much to their father's chagrin. Their on-screen appearances are accompanied by techno music. The Twins use their alien powers—including teleportation, shrinking, and materializing various items to interfere with the Warden's plans for their amusement. Although their plots often result in mass death and destruction, the Twins do not appear to harbor any malice towards either the Warden or the prisoners.
  • Jacknife (Christy Karacas) – a low-level criminal who appears in the openings of most episodes before getting captured by Jailbot. His subsequent journey to Superjail makes up the opening credits sequence. He is often depicted escaping the jail during the murder sequences in the first season and periodically throughout seasons two and three. He never speaks and communicates only by way of animalistic grunts and shrieks. He is labeled by Jared to be Superjail's most vile inmate due to his upbringing and near lack of any form of morality. Jacknife is depicted as being short-tempered, violent, greedy, and misogynistic. During the events of Oedipus Mess, Jacknife is revealed to have sired a son with one of Ultra-Prison's inmates. Having recognized the child as his, Jacknife escaped while the Warden created 1,000 clones of Jacknife that run amok world wide until all but the original are killed off. In the Season 3 premiere a female version of Jacknife causes chaos at a male strip club suggesting that Jacknife either has a sister or a wife.
  • Gary and Bird – Gary is a silent, bespectacled man obviously based on Robert Franklin Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz. However, Gary is mostly a servant to Bird, a small female canary, who appears to be the unofficial "boss" of all of the prisoners in Superjail until Lord Stingray got imprisoned. In the episode Uh Oh, It's Magic, Gary uses his ventriloquism to throw his voice into the Warden's puppet Prison Peedee to stage a break-out. But the plan is foiled prior to Gary's vocal cords being surgically removed and discarded.
  • Paul Guaye and Jean Baptiste Le Ghei (Christopher McCulloch, Stephen Warbrick) – Two homosexual inmates that can be seen in nearly every episode. They were the leaders of the rival "Purple Pythons" (Jean) and "Double Rainbow" (Paul) gangs in Superjail, which parodies the 1961 musical West Side Story. They fell in love as a result and eventually got married. Paul is depicted as being the more feminine of the couple and is somewhat controlling of Jean. Jean is more of the stereotypical male. Despite being violent criminals, the two of them are actually somewhat kind and caring towards others and are respected by the other inmates.
  • Ash (Christopher McCulloch) – A severely burned pyrokinetic pyromaniac prisoner. His burns come from a fire caused by his father, a drunk, dropping a cigarette in a movie theater. Ash's personality is almost childlike.
  • Fatty (Stephen Warbrick) A bald, middle-aged, overweight inmate with a high-pitched voice and giggly/creepy personality, with an affinity for trying to show off his genitals, usually towards Gary. It is revealed in the episode "Superjail Grand Prix" that Fatty is a pedophile. Fatty is often killed during the murder scene or at some point in any episode he appears in, only to be inexplicably revived for the next episode.
  • Lord Stingray (Eric Bauza) – A stereotypical supervillain character, akin to Cobra Commander, and main antagonist of the show. After being defeated by his army-themed enemies, he crash-landed on Superjail Island and tried to take it over, but ended up being imprisoned. He has been a thorn in the Warden's side ever since by trying to either escape or take over Superjail.
  • Peedee (Dana Snyder) – A live dummy possessed by Gary's voice box. Originally, he was controlled by Gary and Bird, but his character has been somewhat changed to a foul-mouthed ghostly criminal with a mobster accent and a standard criminal inmate status. He shares a rivalry with Stingray, but the two occasionally work together against the Warden and the other inmates.
  • The Mistress (Sally Donovan) – The female warden of Ultra-Prison (a women's prison). She had a brief one-night stand with the Warden while under the effects of Spanish Fly. In the season 2 finale, she takes control of Superjail. She engaged in a relationship with Lord Stingray in the season 3 episode, "Stingstress". But after a night of intercourse with Alice, the Mistress returns Superjail to the Warden while she begins a new life-style as a hippie.

Episodes[edit]

Home releases[edit]

DVD name Release date Ep # Features
Season One [12] February 23, 2010 11 All episodes in Season One, the music video "Comin' Home", the animatics for episodes 1,9,10, and the pilot. All featured in 2.0 Stereo and closed captioning. Dialogue remains censored in the feature episodes despite the label on the DVD stating otherwise.
Season Two [13] March 13, 2012 10 Episode commentary for episodes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10, Cheeseburger concert footage, Cheeseburger animated music video, interview with Christy Karacas and Joe Bradley, script to film comparison of episode 10, animation tests, animatics for episodes 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, and 10, "Introstring" of the episode openings. Dialogue and footage are uncensored.
Season Three [14] July 23, 2013 10 Animatics for episodes 1 and 7, animation tests of episodes 6 and 10, "Introstring" featurette. Dialogue and footage remain censored despite the DVD label stating otherwise.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Gough, Paul J. "Three Series Take Dip in Adult Swim." The Hollywood Reporter. April 27, 2007.. Retrieved 01 January 2009.
  2. ^ Dodero, Camille. "Les Savy Fav's Tim Harrington Was on Super Jail Last Night." Sound of the City Blog. Village Voice. November 24, 2008.. Retrieved 01 January 2009.
  3. ^ Wain, David (2013-04-27). "Twitter / davidwain". Twitter. Retrieved 2013-05-02. 
  4. ^ Lloyd, Robert (September 27, 2008). "Animation for adult eyes only". The Los Angeles Times. pp. E–15. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  5. ^ Reynolds, Mike (April 26, 2007). "Adult Swim to Test Friday Waters". Multichannel News. Retrieved 2014-04-29. .
  6. ^ Lloyd, Robert (September 27, 2008). "Animation for adult eyes only". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-08-26. 
  7. ^ Going Back to 'Superjail!'
  8. ^ Minovitz, Ethan (May 25, 2012). "AS Announces Largest Programming Schedule Ever". Big Cartoon News. Retrieved May 25, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Superjail Super Interview". 2011-03-24. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  10. ^ "Adult Swim Announces 2007 Programming Slate at New York Upfront". 2008-04-26. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  11. ^ a b Colfax, Ty (2009-02-27). "'Superjail' Creators". Attack of the Show. G4 TV. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  12. ^ "Superjail Season One DVD release". November 5, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Superjail Season 2 DVD Release Date and Cover Art". November 17, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Superjail Season Three DVD and Cover Art". April 3, 2013. 

External links[edit]