Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Semi-Cult of "Super Jail"

"Super Jail" is a cartoon on Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim".

The premise is that Super Jail itself is a Super Max prison. It's physically isolated so prisoners actually have a lot of freedom to run around and have fun and on occasion start a riot and slaughter each other. That's pretty much the plot of every episode.

The art is virtuously ugly. They try to make the ugly art part of the ugly feel of the cartoon. The sort of succeed, but it's still ugly.

The mindset is above "Assy McGee" (as is everything) but below "Metalocalypse". They all pale compared to "Secret Squirrel".

All in all it's just another show on "Adult Swim". Watch it if you want, but don't kill yourself getting to the TV.


There is more to Super Jail than meets the eye. Something culty.

At the end of each episode a character name "Jacknife" escapes. Who cares, right? It turns out that, indirectly, a lot of people do.

The next Super Jail begins with Jacknife being recaptured. Each episode the capture is elaborate and different. This isn't Bart Simpson writing something new on a blackboard, it's a whole new intro. It's these intros have developed their own cult following.

For example, the episode called "Mr. Grumpy-Pants" has the following intro:

Open on a children's hospital in winter. Shot of a ward full of dying children. Hey look, it's Santy Claus! Nope, it's Santy Jacknife. Santy Jacknife steals all the kids meds. A medical monitor turns into Jailbot, the ruthless, unstoppable prisoner retrieval robot. Jailbot chases Jacknife. Jacknife uses sick children as obstacles. Sick children are run over by Jailbot. Jacknife is cornered. All the remaining children are crying. Jailbot is touched. Jailbot turns into a sleigh, strangles Jacknife into submission and flys off while projecting a hologram of reindeer in front of the sleigh. It really was Santa Claus! We love you, Jailbot!

But wait! There's more!

Que the rocking theme music. It's 30 seconds of pure garage rock. Pretty munch anyone with a Stratocaster, a Fender "Champ" and a history of fuzz petal abuse could do the same. You gotta crank up the fuzz. I think fuzzy rock could save both music and the Internet.

During the theme, our antihero Jacknife is dangling by his wrist from Jailbot, who is now a helicopter. As Jailbot flies back to Super Jail, scenery flies by, all of which is new and warrants notice.

After that, I've got a 50/50 chance of changing the channel. I'm not alone. I've run into a few people who hate the show, but always watch the intro. The show isn't developing a cult following, the show's intro is.

There are people who are waiting for the theme to be turned into a full song so they can buy it off the net. They have no intention of buying the Super Jail DVD, they just want the theme.

If the theme doesn't suck when they fill it out, and it isn't strangled by Digital Rights Management (DRM), I may even buy it.

You can watch the intros to Super Jail at I think entire episodes are there, but I've never watched one all the way through.

It's a cult thing.