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"Moral Orel" is one of the latest additions to the "Adult Swim" portion of the Cartoon Network. The series is an exceptionally funny (and I'm guessing sure to be controversial) parody of "Davey and Goliath" (as well as a jab at 50's sitcoms), taking that show's sappy sweetness and adding a dose of "South Park". As twisted as "Morel Orel" sometimes gets, what makes it as hilarious as it is is the fact that it remains as chirpy and innocent in tone as "Davey and Goliath" ever was.

The stop-motion animated series takes place in the little town of Moralton, where young man Orel lives with his family, who try to "teach him right and wrong", although their often questionable "wisdom" is often taken the wrong way by Orel, who - despite wanting to make God and family happy - ends up doing things like selling classmates homemade sports drinks that contain "Vitamin P", getting an unusual piercing, becoming as much of an alcoholic as his father and getting hooked on crack after buying it from a homeless person.

Despite claiming to provide guidance, the adults in Orel's life aren't always the best role models, such as Orel's father, who's depressed, stuck in a dead-end job (and unhappy marriage) and ready to sell the crack that Orel has gotten his hands on for a profit. The episodes are all quite short, clocking in at around 11 minutes each, but they feel a fair amount longer (in a good way, because they're so dense with jokes, gags and some great throwaway one-liners, such as an instance where Orel's friend asks him what he put for number 3 on the science quiz, and he replies, simply: "Jesus." His friend smacks his head and goes, "Of course!")

"Moral Orel" isn't going to be everyone's cup-of-tea, but I thought these episodes (the DVD is the first time I've seen the show) were really sharply funny, well-written and the stop-motion animation is quite good.

1 The Best Christmas Ever 12/13/2005
2 The Lord's Greatest Gift 1/23/2006
3 Waste 1/30/2006
4 Charity 2/6/2006
5 Omniprescence 2/13/2006
6 The Blessed Union 2/20/2006
7 God-Fearing 2/27/2006
8 Maturity 5/15/2006
9 Loyalty 5/22/2006
10 God's Chef 7/31/2006
11 God's Image 11/13/2006
12 Love 11/20/2006
13 Satan 11/27/2006
14 Elemental Orel 12/4/2006
15 Offensiveness 12/11/2006


The DVD

VIDEO: "Moral Orel" is presented by Warner Brothers in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The presentation quality is terrific, with crisp images that show off every aspect of the show's stop-motion animation. No edge enhancement or pixelation is noticed, but a little bit of shimmer was occasionally seen. Colors remained bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other issues.

SOUND: The stereo soundtrack offers up clear, crisp dialogue, music and effects.

EXTRAS: While there are commentaries by the creators, crew and cast (a mix of participants discusses each episode), the first extra of note is included on the second disc, and it's called "The Awkward Comic-Con Panel". The featurette is a taping of a panel Q & A at the San Diego Comic-Con and features the creators of "Metalocalypse", "Robot Chicken", "Moral Orel" and "The Venture Brothers" and it's really one of the most bizarre things I've seen in ages. "Orel" creator Dino Stamatopolous seems as if he's gone completely off the reservation, yelling at audience members and generally getting on the wrong side of the teams sitting on either side of the "Orel" team and eventually, upsetting some of the audience.

The remarkable thing is that, despite not visibly drinking or taking who knows what else, Stamatopolous seems to continually get more crazed and disruptive as the session goes on. It's a tense, weird, incredibly uncomfortable and oddly fascinating 27 minutes of footage. The piece includes commentary from the "Moral Orel" team and "Venture Brothers" teams, who share their side of the story.

The commentary tracks with the "Moral Orel" team for the episodes (go to the episode list on each disc and click on the episode and select "commentary", otherwise it's not apparent at first how to access the commentaries) are funny and informative, discussing issues like development of the stories, material that standards found objectionable, animation, voice acting and more. The tracks have a fun atmosphere and keep the discussion moving throughout the episodes.

Additionally, we also get a "behind-the-scenes" featurette, promos, 6 deleted scenes (including the slightly different and uncensored original opening), a collection of end animations and Stamatopolous doing the voice of Reverend Putty.

Final Thoughts: "Moral Orel" isn't going to be everyone's cup-of-tea, but I thought these episodes were really sharply funny, well-written and the stop-motion animation is quite good throughout. This first volume of the series on DVD offers great audio/video quality and a solid selection of supplements, especially the wild panel discussion. Recommended.



DVD Information





Moral Orel: Vol. 1: The Unholy Edition
Warner Brothers Home Entertainment
1.33:1
Stereo
173 minutes
Rated NR
Dual Layer:Yes
Anamorphic:No
Region:1
Available At Amazon.com: Moral Orel: Vol. 1: The Unholy Edition