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You did say I would win, didn't you?
Episode 201: Politics

Transcript is availible here

Before seeing this episode, it would probably be a good idea to see “The Art of the Sucker Punch” for a nice Shannon introduction.

Cast:
Brendon Small/Ken Addleburg – Brendon Small
Jason Penopolis/Coach Jon McGuirk – H. Jon Benjamin
Melissa Robbins – Melissa Bardin Galsky
Paula Small – Janine Ditullo
Josie Small – Loren Bouchard
Shannon – Emo Philips
Mr. Lynch – Ron Lynch

Ken Addleburg's First Appearance

Synopsis: Brendon is running for class president, and actually wins. However, Brendon’s connection to Shannon may be his political and moral downfall. McGuirk decides to try his hand at standup comedy as “The Soccer Comic”, and Paula wins the “Nicest Teacher of the Month” award at her school.

History:
· This is the first episode of the second season.
· This is the first episode to be animated in Flash as opposed to Squigglevision.
· This is the first episode made specifically for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.
· This episode introduces us to Ken Addleburg, the hard-to-understand oddjobber in Brendon’s town.

Lawn Gnomes:
· Another episode where I couldn’t find one.

The Plotline Connection: (TheJazzFighter)
· Paula and Brendon both get elected for something...Paula for Best Teacher and Brendon for President. Not much of a McGuirk connection, however.

Think Big. Vote Small. Brendon Small.

Brendon’s Filmography:
· “Vote Brendon Small” – Do books burn your eyes when you read them? Brendon Small believes it is time to move away from books and into videos for learning. Vote Brendon Small for class president.
· “Thieves” – Actually not a movie but rather a set up to get Shannon. It kind of works.

The Movie-Episode Connection:
· The two different movies both relate to the storylines of Act I and Act II: Act I is about getting elected, Act II is about stealing said election.

Song Lyrics:
· Shannon’s Theme (No lyrics, just ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba)

Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba

Random Observations & Facts:
· Jason wrote “Jason Rules!” on the lower left corner of his poster.
· Shannon has apparently grown, as in season one him and Brendon were about the same size. Now he towers over him. (thanks to a fan for this contribution)
· Brendon ends up using Jason’s train/mom poster in his campaign. He apparently adds “Brendon for Presidint”.
· Thurman Thackery wears a “Vote Thurman” pin.
· Brendon spits on Thackery’s glasses.
· There is crude drawing of Paula on Paula’s chalkboard with stink lines.
· The video in "Vote Brendon Small" features a Japanese eye chart. When translated, it becomes "I can't. I can't read anymore." (Thanks to StrangerAtaru for translating that one. Impress your friends!)
· When Melissa says, “They’ll call you four eyes and idiot” when talking about glasses, she is holding a picture of Thurman Thackery.
· One of the soccer players runs into the goal post.
· Paula has made dinner in a sort of a smiley face shape.
· In the background when Brendon learns he won, a sign says “Think Big Vote Small”.
· Shannon drinks “Fizz Soda”.
· Shannon has gotten worse since the last time we’ve seen him. He was just a neighborhood bully in The Art of the Sucker Punch, but in this episode he breaks into cars, steals computers, writes graffiti and smashes hoods.
· In the school hall a sign says “Don’t Be A Quack, Don’t Use Smack”. This has appeared in several episodes since.
· Shannon’s official hall pass: “From the DESK of the office of the president; LEAVE HIM ALONE! B. Small”
· Melissa rolls her eyes and leaves after Brendon and Lynch start talking.
· The music that plays right before we go into Brendon’s office is the only time we hear that on the show.
· There is a crude picture of Brendon on Brendon’s chalkboard right next to where it says “President Small”.
· Other comedians performing on the same night as McGuirk: “Jay Bird & Patty”, “Crazy Mike”, “Match Head” (his picture fits his name), and “Clowny”.
· There is a game of Tic-Tac-Toe played on McGuirk’s “notes”.
· Jason laughs as Thackery falls.

I shall resign the presidency, effective noon tommorow...

Past Episode References:
· The Published Poet from Episode 108 – Method of Acting is once again in Paula’s class.
· Inconsistency – In Episode 103 – The Art of the Sucker Punch, we hear that Shannon doesn’t go to Brendon’s school. However, in this episode he does.
· Brendon, Jason & Melissa say, “We got Shannon! Right in the Cannon!” In The Art of the Sucker Punch, Shannon’s fighting name was “Shannon the Cannon”.

Movie & Other References:
· At the “Laugh, Damn It!” bar, there are people who resemble Jerry Seinfeld, Carrotop, Andrew “Dice” Clay and Marcel Marceau.
· Melissa and Jason play Bonnie & Clyde in “Thieves”.

End Credits: Spoken: McGuirk’s mom heckles him.

So what's with these classical music stations?

Reviews: (Keep in mind these reviews were taken from the first time the episode aired, and the big thing was the new animation) WARNING: Spoilers

Spectre: The flash animated zooms were so freaking cool... everything was amazing to me. Better animation, great lines, ... I thought everything was great. And we get tons of Shannon. The whole Shannon montage was hilarious. A

The Condiment King: The second appearance of Shannon in the series. Shannon is a great character, and he was good here as well. He wasn't really the center of the episode persay like in "Art of the Sucker Punch", but he worked well within the plot of Brendon running for Class President.

I love the scene where Melissa is shooting Brendon's campaign video on his literal campaign platform. That's great banter. What always loses me in this episode is why everyone (including Brendon) just assumes that Thurman Thackery is going to win this. He's a nerd and he said himself that he had run unopposed for years (thus why he's been class president). I like Melissa's excited facial expression when she tells Brendon he won, and then Brendon of course goes crazy.

McGuirk is "The Soccer Comic", which is a great sequence with McGuirk trying to tell jokes that aren't funny at all. At the same time, in retrospect, they aren't really hilariously terrible. They are just genuinely bad attempts. The situation itself is funny for a character like McGuirk, but it feels like they could've done more with this. I don't know. Something that shows how much Brendon looks up to McGuirk or mimicks him is how he repeats McGuirk's joke while standing in front of the audience at the end.

Paula is named "Nicest Teacher of the Month" which becomes "Best Teacher of the Year" in her mind. More classic dialogue with Brendon and Paula going back and forth about who said what with the flowers blocking their view of each other on the table. Then, of course Paula discards the flowers because of ants. Another thing that characterizes the difference in Paulas from "UPN 5" and the rest of the series: in the "UPN 5", Brendon cursed in front of Paula at least once and Paula said nothing, whereas here Paula quickly reprimands him. I like this character. ****

RandomGuy: I loved it. When Home Movies first debuted on UPN, I caught the first episode, and for the first couple of minutes, I hated it. By the end though, when Brendon was asking Erik to play Freebird on his violin, I had fallen in love with the show. I've been watching it ever since, and it's easily my fave Adult Swim show. I found myself more or less doing the same thing with this episode. At the first the dialogue seemed off, the new animation annoying, but by the end, I had laughed a lot and really enjoyed the whole thing. The lack of squigglevision was a first a problem, but really, the show is so much clearer, brighter, and smoother that I have to admit the animation is a step up (seeing the original squigglevision in an AS promo, later in the evening, it clearly looked worse). I'll admit, the music is an unwelcome change, I was sorry to see that neither Dwayne nor Erik were in this episode (and Melissa is ALWAYS underused), but overall, I was impressed. With Williams Street episodes being released sporadically, and Cowboy Bebop in reruns, Home Movies is THE Adult Swim show for the forseeable future, and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Shnay: The reaction I had the first time I saw this was a bit distorted by high expectations coming off of "Brendon's Choice" and, of course, the shock of the switch to Flash. On first viewing, I thought it was rather boring, but I've changed that initial impression drastically after seeing it again. This episode had moments of great dialogue, interesting plots and subplots, and good pacing. "Politics" isn't among the best, but it's still a very good episode when compared to all that we've seen so far.

This episode involves three stories, and a good number of characters. This could have easily resulted in a mess, but the pacing and story development was handled very well. Brendon's election plot line, the episode's focus, is very clever. The question of Shannon's role in Brendon's victory is an interesting twist to what could have been a simple story about a school election.

However, while the addition of Shannon adds another layer to the story, it is also what ends up detracting from it. The election story line has some great parts, like brainstorming slogans and the campaign movie, and both of these parts involve interaction between Jason and Melissa. I would have rather seen this episode focus on them being Brendon's cabinet members or election team, rather than them trying to get "Shannon in the cannon." The focus on Shannon can be seen during the musical montage of his crime spree (which made him out to be much more rotten than I think the neighborhood bully should be). Again, I think this time would have been much better spent if it was focused on Jason and Melissa, and what they thought of him.

The McGuirk story, which is much more straightforward, is also much funnier. McGuirk is really in his element here, as we get to see him do just about everthing that makes him McGruik. His conversation with Brendon on the soccer field about going into comedy is classic Home Movies dialogue, and his method of dealing with Melissa's "heckling" is hilarious ("Who's your father, Picasso?" and "...'cause you work there" were my favorites). Seeing Melissa's embarrassed reactions to his comments, and then seeing Brendon stand up for her was a very nice touch to the scene, as well.

But it's not until McGruirk gets to the comedy club that the story really hits its peak, and ends up becoming the highlight of the episode. The whole idea of "The Soccer Comic" is pretty funny in itself, but McGuirk's terribly awkward jokes are what make this so memorable. Jon Benjamin is so freakin' talented, and he really shines here. The jokes about the bank robbery, classical music on the radio, and kids on the milk carton, all had such an insecure, nervous, and awkward delivery, that McGuirk becomes a perfect hack comic. We later see McGurik talking with the other hack comics about things like bartenders named Teddy and punchlines. What I loved about this scene was seeing McGuirk trying to make sure that the mime would "stick with [him]" as it adds to his darkly humorous alcoholism.

Finally, this storyline is tied together with Brendon's through the hecklers Brendon gets at the end and the very funny "real life" soccer comic bit over the credits.

Then there's the Paula side story, which was just kinda out there by itself. The storyline isn't much more than filler, but it provides a few laughs and even develops Paula's character. You can't ask for much more than that from something that just supposed to kill time. By showing Paula get some appreciation from her students (even if it's just "Nicest teacher of the month" and not "Greatest teacher of the year," as she would have liked to believe) shows that she actually does have some talent as a writer and a teacher. Later in this season, her writing and her job kinda degenerates into one big joke about her, but this episode gives her some much deserved love (as shown by the flowers). There is a bit too much time spent on the flowers, but the fact that the "before that" conversation that came out of it makes up for any feeling of tedium that comes later. That's such a great exchange.

There were definitely some scenes that could be tweaked for timing, and some parts that could be spruced up with another joke or two, but the episode generally stays very funny throughout its seperate story branches, with a couple standout, memorable parts.

Mynd Hed: This episode was all right. Shannon's always good as the sort of bully NOBODY remembers from their youth. "I'm a thug. It's what I do. You don't break into cars: I do. I don't play with dolls: you do." Other than that, it fell kinda flat. McGuirk's standup routine should have been funny for its sheer patheticness, but I dunno, I just found it drab instead. I think that the writers just had a hard time adjusting to the switch away from retroscripting, because as I recall the episodes will start getting funnier than this after a while.

Overall Grade: C+

StrangerAtaru: And so the flash era begins with a minor miracle: a fun little HM episodes that, while not perfect, we can still take as fun. The center of the episode revolves around Brendon's election bid for class president against the incumbent, where we have a very funny initial meeting between Brendon, Jason and Melissa (where all they get out of it is a poster featuring a train and Jason's mom) followed by the eventual commercial promoting Brendon's campaign, and weird promise. (sure Brendon, Jason couldn't read the eye chart because it was Japanese) But of course as we all know, everything changes because of the infamous return of Shannon, who now for some reason goes to Brendon's school. The whole factor of Shannon's immunity once Brendon mysteriously wins leads to a now famous montage of Shannon causing havoc and the main characters trying to control him even if it means Brendon's resignation. (and a just as funny resignation speech, very much like Nixon fused with Kennedy, with some side comments to boot) But there was other fun stuff happening in this episode as well: Lynch has a great role as a constant victim to everything going on at the school. (Well they were his Sinatra tapes). And Paula has a fun little subplot of her own involving an award she wins and, consequently, her with the flowers she receives. (Enjoy it while it lasts, Paula...sorry, a bit for foreshadowing) On the other hand, the weak link to this episode is McGuirk and his subplot about wanting to be a stand-up comic. Sure he was supposed to be awful, but it really didn't help the episode too much other than the thing during the credits where he fights with his mom.

The Landstander: A nice beginning to the second season, and though not a standout a fun episode.

Brendon's election plotline is the focus here. The opening parts involving Brendon getting elected were all pretty funny, and I liked Jason's almost accidental brilliant campaign line. The storyline then quickly shifts to Shannon and the potential of corruption within the Small Administration. Shannon just about always worked on this show whenever he appeared, so it's nice to see him again. It seems he's transformed from neighborhood bully to master criminal, but whatever. The storyline moves in an obvious way, but there's some good back-and-forths here: Namely the ones by Jason and Melissa in attempting to bring Shannon down.

Then there's the equally funny McGuirk plotline, which stands (no pun intended) on its own. "The soccer comic" is an awesomely bad idea for a routine, and his actual stand up sequence is the type of uncomfortable awkwardness that's really hard to pull off, but Benjamin makes it work. Paula also has a quick storyline involving flowers that's kind of funny but not too notable.

Also, the Flash quality obviously got much better as the show went on, but the animation isn't offensive here. It also seems like they included such aspects as butterflies and the "Shannon does bad things" sequence just to play with their new software.

On a final note, this episode contains one of my favorite dialogue sequences from the entire show:

Paula: What were you saying?
Brendon: Move the flowers.
Paula: Before that.
Brendon: Uh, this meatloaf is dry.
Paula: No, before that.
Brendon: This is meatloaf?
Paula: Before that.
Brendon: This fish is dry.

A Good Episode.

I drew a train, and then I drew my mom...