Born from the ashes of the promising, but quickly canceled animated show “Minoriteam,” Adam de la Peña created “Code Monkeys” in 2007 and in the process, has produced one of the most underrated and hilarious animated sitcoms on television today. It’s first season, which is available on DVD, chronicles the first 13 episodes of the show and serves as a great introduction to the series.
Anyone that grew up with the WWF, Cyndi Lauper and the Super Mario Bros. will absolutely fall in love with the show, as it is drenched in ’80s references and nostalgia. Taking place at a fledgling video game company sometime in the ’80s, the show uses this time period to its advantage, exposing just how idiotic we all were back then and how much simpler and fun things appeared to be.
Feeling like a combination of “South Park” and “Aqua Ten Hunger Force,” the show features the voice talent of Dana “Don’t Call me Master Shake” Synder, who is an absolute laugh riot on the show, serving as game creator Todd, who seems to be way too close to his mother and nachos, and Benny, a foul-mouthed and drug using illegal immigrant teenager brought to the game company to test games 24-hours a day. With Snyder on board, the show’s hilarity and promise were high, but there are several other talented voice actors on the show that give the show a type of appeal and atmosphere not many animated shows have.
Series creator De La Pena also serves as the voice of the main character, Dave, whose absurdity and perversion outranks both Master Shake and Eric Cartman. Matt Mariska plays Dave’s best friend and sidekick Jerry, who isn’t afraid to admit he’s half Jewish, but is afraid of pretty much everything else. This combination on the show provides the bulk of the laughs, but Andy Sipes’ portrayal of Gameavision owner Big T Larrity often tops everything else going on. Perverted, horny, greedy and borderline racist, Larrity will arguably be many people’s favorite character.
Speaking of racism, the show features Tony Strickland as Black Steve, the accountant who embodies every African-American stereotype known to man and is proud of it. If that wasn’t enough, Gretchen McNeil plays Mary, the only female programmer at the company, who is an arch feminist.
Add all these characters together and you have a 22-minute power-keg of exploitation, sexism and outright craziness that is waiting to explode.
Boy, is it ever fun to watch.
However, in spite of all of this, the best reason to watch the show is the animation. Taking a page out of the eight-bit graphics on the Nintendo Entertainment System, “Code Monkeys” is a perturbed video game fan’s dream come true and everyone else’s guilty pleasure. It pulls no punches in its comedy, which will offend some, but those looking for a different brand of humor will be pleasantly surprised.
Plus, it’s the only place to see eight-bit strippers and polygonal nudity of mass proportions.
The show is so raunchy that if our favorite Italian plumber would have seen it in the ’80s, it’s safe to say the Princess would still be off in another castle somewhere with a fire-breathing King Koopa.
He’d be at the strip club with Dave and Jerry instead.
“Code Monkeys” is indeed a surprisingly hidden gem – perfectly square and clearly pixilated – emerging on a network traditionally devoted to video games. Appearing much like an 8-bit game, itself, its most charming aspect is the inclusion of game play in the episodes’ admittedly funny story lines.
When the team must escape from a dungeon in “Super Prison Breakout,” (an episode that should almost entirely be devoted to Todd and Tiffany, his girlfriend doll) a narrow walk-way a la “Zelda” dominates the screen. In “Third Reich’s the Charm,” the gregarious group gets ready to fight some Nazis; cowboys step in and undertake “Final Fantasy’s” iconic form of battle.
Hysterical, unwittingly charismatic, shocking and ultimately nostalgic, “Code Monkeys” takes the best of a childhood borne of the ‘80s and bestows upon it its most secret wish – to live inside the world of a video game.
– Olga Privman