“I told you that I can’t get wet.”
“Angel Boy” is a perfectly passable installment of Bedtime Stories, offering up a simple, weird, off putting at times story that does everything that it needs to do. This is all strengthened by the stylistic touches and technical aspects that hold the episode together, which I actually think are the most interesting thing going on here.
Tim and Eric have a deep reservoir of cinematic knowledge and a very keen eye for composition. We’ve already seen allusions to David Lynch this year, and Tim is greatly influenced by the Coen Brothers, but it almost feels like Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is the inspiration this time around, in its funereal march feeling when it comes to the sound design and editing. We see peaceful images of people jogging, lawns being mowed, and blue skies, as fade outs are constantly used to exit a scene, but the darker touches in the sound design tell you that not all is well.
This entry has Eric as Dan Dimler encounter the very peculiar Scotty Andrews (Tim) and his DVDs of him singing. It’s a pairing and dynamic we’ve seen versions of many times before, as Dan gets progressively obsessed with Scotty’s angelic voice and his videos, seemingly giving them more attention than his own wife, and ignoring his son’s advice that Scotty is in fact a dink. Thoughts of Scotty keep Dan up at night as the rest of the house sleeps soundly. The videos are largely like anything you would have seen out of Awesome Show! Great Job, with Scotty actually bearing more than a few resemblances to Casey Tatum from the often-seen Casey and His Brother, song segments. It works well enough, but to have seen them take an entirely different approach with the videos and music, they maybe could have tapped into something more impressive.
Like usual, there’s stellar work in the aesthetics, with the make-up and costumes really going far. All of Scotty’s costume are wonderfully haphazard in how they’re assembled, but Eric’s more understated hair and make-up work this week as Dan are maybe just as strong as Tim’s over-the-top style. Dan almost has a more grounded, realistic Homer Simpson look. Its minimalism is what makes it work so well. Tim’s voice for Scotty too is a strong commitment to the character, as he seems to talk through sharp exhales, his eyes always on the verge of rolling back.
Dan eventually decides to have Scotty headlines Patrick’s Super Sweet 17, as his passion for Scotty continues to soar. He builds a Dad Zone to keep out the riff raff and guarantee himself the best seat in the house for Patrick’s big night. But it doesn’t even matter when Patrick and his party buddies aren’t into any of this at all. They’d be having a much better time if DJ Chris were there.
Its nice to see the episode take a gradual dark turn as Dan’s need for Scotty’s music, and Scotty clearly being uncomfortable with being around him. There’s also the very possible idea running through all of this that Scotty is in fact autistic or on the spectrum in some sense, adding another layer of darkness to everything.
The conclusion, with Dan frantically drying off the Scotty decal that’s on his car, amidst a rain shower, is crushing. He’s determined not to fail again, now that he knows the rules. He wants to at least save one Scotty so he can be close to an angel once. He barks out manic fashion, “You want to keep my boy’s voice high, you gotta keep him dry!” as dear old Randy backs away awkwardly and Dan continues on his mission.
The ending is really beautifully constructed, with the music playing under Scotty’s post-wet vengeance wonderfully matching and building on everything. It’s still a pretty lazy, convenient ending, but it’s hardly beyond anything they’ve done like this in the past. The end of The Terrys for instance is very reminiscent of this. Still, nice artistic touches, like the close-ups of the sky being dark and storm-ridden after Scotty’s transformation, rather than the bright blue ones we had before paradise was lost, push all of this further.
All of this is fine and doesn’t not work while managing to still be a lot of weird fun. But it just feels very regular for Tim and Eric. Almost like they just the built the script by mashing together a bunch of concepts they know are reliable (weird voices, singing, powers, dads). Even taking more of a leap by casting one of their regulars as Scotty instead would have provided a more original angle to it. Picture John C. Reilly in the role. Picture Jeff Goldblum as Scotty, with Ray Wise as Dan, and tell me that that wouldn’t be more interesting than what went on here. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this but I might have preferred something entirely different and a little more ambitious for them. It’s paint-by-numbers Tim and Eric, which is still usually pretty reliable, but in a show like this, I think we’re entitled to a little more.