Seth MacFarlane is as divisive as Marmite and just as ubiquitous, with a range of hit shows that never seem to be off the air.
That’s not a bad thing. For one, I don’t mind Marmite and for two, Family Guy is one of the funniest sitcoms around, likewise American Dad (though the jury’s still out on The Cleveland Show).
But maybe, with Cavalcade Of Cartoon Comedy, the Noughties’ Matt Groening has finally found his perfect paradigm.
One of the major criticisms of MacFarlane’s cartoons – or highlights, depending on your humour – has been the heavy reliance on cutaway, brief scenes barely or not all connected to the main plot. Shaggy dog stories, one-liners and other tangential vignettes are interspersed with the main storyline for no other reason than the sheer delight in post-modern pop culture parody.
With Cavalcade, originally broadcast online in 2008- 9 as an irregular series of webisodes, MacFarlane has been freed of the constrictions of plot all together and been allowed to run rampage like a cross between King Kong, Sid James and an all-out geek.
The energy of The Fast Show andthe sensibilities of the Farrelly brothers combine to make a colourful 2-D comedy machine gun, one that shoots dildos straight at your moral fibre.
‘Low’ sex jokes are clearly a big thing to MacFarlane and I’m glad to report there’s a little of the divine deviancy of Family Guy‘s Quagmire in each of them. What you get on the DVD are a sexcession of mostly-unrelated one to two-minute shorts featuring such things as how a frisky frog goes about getting a feel from princesses in a fairytale world, what Star Trek‘s Mr Sulu is like between the sheets, and the consequences of appearing on the quiz show that’s sweeping the States, Name That Animal Penis!
Kong periodically rears his massive head to fling a pile of, literally, crap jokes into the mix. I’ll never see Fred Flintstone in the same way ever again after witnessing the honestly-named Fred Flintstone Takes a Shit.
As you might have already guessed, Cavalcade isn’t something for the five-year-olds, unless you want them expelled from school by six. It’s hard to believe that the series was originally sponsored by his majesty of fast food franchises, Burger King, as a viral stunt and even appeared on the company’s website. They parted ways with MacFarlane at the start of ‘09, perhaps because that’s when religious satire started creeping into the mix. It’s odd how some Americans can take an incest joke with the best of them but draw the line at Jesus And Vishnu On Christmas Eve.
Likewise, Monkeys Talk About Religion. With its pointedly humorous explanation of creation from the primate’s perspective, it may be the best sketch Douglas Adams never wrote, but it must have gone down worse with the Burger King execs than an anthrax Whopper.
Cavalcade is now sponsored by Priceline.com and to be found on YouTube channel SethComedy. Here it resides in its uncensored form and has made quite an impact so far, notching up three million views in its first few days alone. Visit and you can find the whole of the first season (23 episodes). What you can’t find are the extra 27 exclusive to DVD.
Stand-out sketches from this selection include The Wizard Of Oz, Adjusted For Reality, Dirty Vaudeville (a chance for MacFarlane to indulge his love of musicals) and Die, Sweet Roadrunner,, Die, which tragically exposes Wile E. Coyote’s existential dependence on his supposed nemesis.
With so many sketches in quick succession, everyone is going to find a few duffers along the way – my own being the Scotsman jokes, which are one-note and done in an atrocious Caledonian accent – but overall, Cavalcade is a winner, if only because it pummels the viewer into submission.
Extras on the DVD are in short supply. There’s a four-minute feature on Cavalcade‘s Red Carpet Premiere, featuring a lot of writers and actors saying nothing in particular, and a stills gallery comprising character models in various states of animated completion. It’s one for those who want to study the great man’s work and follow in his footsteps, though by the base level of his Id-heavy idiocy, I envisage he favours sliding around the ground on his belly to walking.
Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade Of Cartoon Comedy is released on January 25 and available from the Den Of Geek Store.