Our “best of hits” of Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp continues as we move into the mid-day period and gonzo musical Electro/City heats up.
Let’s bitch it out…
- We kick off things at 1:15pm (aka the lower midriff of the day).In the wake of Mitch’s (H. Jon Benjamin) death (then miraculous reincarnation as a can of vegetables), Beth (Janeane Garafalo) and Greg (Jason Schwartzman) seek out Jonas
‘s wig(Chris Meloni) for help deciphering the secret code of the government’s secret computer network (your WHAS drinking game for this episode = “secret”!) The code turns out to be approximately 20 digits/characters long, something Beth and Greg memorize without the aid of a pen and paper or repetition of any kind.
- Chris Meloni really gets to ham it up during his memory exercise to recall the code, complete with elastic facial expressions and a variety of different voices for each stage of his life
- Everyone notice the subtle stroke Jonas makes along the exterior of the fridge when he comes out of his trance?
- Donna’s (Lake Bell) latest betrayal comes in the form of a Shokar, a traditional musical instrument that only Yaron (David Wain) can play properly. Naturally Coop (Michael Showalter) thinks that she’s given the gift, complete with personalized (re: lackluster) wrapping, solely to him, but it turns out that she has literally given one to everyone in camp. There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for her actions, though; Coop’s undeniable influence activated her energy plummage and Yaron just happened to be there.
- My favourite joke: Lindsay’s (Elizabeth Banks) complete lack of subtlety writing down the urban legend of Eric and the Rockin’ Knights on her typewriter.
- Second favourite joke: Showalter (in his second role) as President Reagan, beating the crap out of Ron von Kleinenstein (Judah Friedlander), especially when Friedlander is very obviously substituted for a mannequin.
- Jon Hamm’s introduction as the Falcon, including the incredibly fake green screen background standing in for Argentina, is also a delight
- The normal Camp Tigerclaw activities prove to be a WASP-y delight. Naturally they would play croquet!
- Unusual sound effect count: 1 – when Andy (Paul Rudd) picks up his life preserver from the picnic table with a velcro/tape ripping sound
- One of ‘Activities’ silly recurring jokes that shouldn’t be funny, but is: Katie’s (Marguerite Moreau) persistent need to blow her bangs out of her face (symbolic of her boy troubles).
- Less funny: watching Becky (Hannah Friedman) repeatedly try to master her Electro/City jump with Danny (Michael Blaiklock), regardless of how amusing it is to hear dance coach Rhonda (Michaela Watkins) advise her to jump from the crotch or Susie (Amy Poehler) lament to Claude (Jon Slattery) that their performers sound like a suck dick.
- Finally, integral back story alert! Nurse Nancy (Nina Hellman) is a crossing guard during the school year and she’s very willing to share her contraceptives.
- Beth (after directing the mob to a scarecrow with an obvious pumpkin head): “Oh we only have an hour, maybe two, before those parents realize that isn’t Mitch.”
- Andy (to Katie): “Blake can’t blow your life like I can.”
- Greg (when Gary mentions he saw Mitch less than an hour ago): “Well he died more recently than that”
- Coop (describing his Shofar): “My girlfriend Donna got it for me from Jerusaleh”
- Blake (when Katie confirms that the reason she’s in the bunk is because it’s her bunk): “Touche”
- Lindsay (in voice over): “Second rule of journalism: sometimes stories have chapters. And I just found my chapter one.”
- Beth (gesturing to the computer): “Steve, I need you to stop playing with that typewriter and that TV screen.”
In stark contrast to ‘Activities’, episode four is almost entirely dedicated to the troubled production of Electro/City, with a few subplots as the Falcon closes in on Beth and Greg and Gail investigates Jonas. Mostly absent are Coop and Donna, with only minimal involvement by Andy and Katie.
- Because Danny and Becky nearly killed a background extra with their less-than-impressive tumbling skills, Susie and Claude dump them and hold auditions for a new leads. Naturally the roles go to Andy – for his aphrodisiac audition – and Katie, who so impresses Rhonda that the dance coach tips her cigarette ash into her coffee before drinking it. Yum.
- Most importantly, the cast shake-up opens the door for a meet cute between Ben (Bradley Cooper) and McKinley (Michael Ian Black), teasing their future together as ‘creative’ types.
- Every moment of Logan’s (John Early) audition is sheer unadulterated sassy diva bitch gay. I simultaneously loathed and wanted to worship it as my new god, especially the histrionic ending. Almost as good: his gaggle of adoring like-minded gays.
- Callback reference: Jonas met Gail (Molly Shannon) at the Porthouse Marriott where he fell in love with her and her electric slide. Alas poor Gail, after overhearing the kerfuffle last episode, researches her husband’s peculiar history and discovers – the horror! – that he’s not Jonas Jurgenson, he’s Jean Jankinson. I definitely think she should jump ship and hook up with Jeff Jeff (Randall Park) the librarian instead.
- Before revealing his true identity as the Falcon, hypnotist Jackie Brazen (Weird Al Jankovich) puts on a dynamite show that involves making JJ (Zak Orth) bounce like a human pogo stick and Becky act like a constipated dachshund.
- I did enjoy Beth and Greg’s slow run for the exit as the Falcon chooses between a banana, an orange and a gun.
- Kristen Wiig’s brief introduction as Courtney is predictably SNL/Kristen Wiig-esque. As someone who enjoys her, that’s fine by me. The half-dance that accompanies her description of rowing feels very much within her wheelhouse, though for me, the overly sexual double application of lip gloss is the comedy bit that sold me.
- Henry (insisting that his Dean would stop him): “And certainly not you, you back slapping, glad hamming fuck dick of a shit butt!”
- Girl asswipe (after the Falcon sweeps them off their feet): “Oh, my uterus”
- McKinley (to Ben): “Oh I just thought it was so obvious that I’m creative. I mean, I just thought, because you’re creative that you would know that I’m creative. <pause> Oh, I see, Ben. You don’t realize that you’re creative, too”
- Blake (taking a swipe at his friend when he describes Courtney as a minx): “Socialist.”
Your turn: which of the two episodes did you prefer? Do you have a favourite story line? Are the guest stars overshadowing our main players? Will Coop kick Donna to the curb? Surprised at Lindsay or Henry’s (David Hyde Pierce) back stories? Sound off below, but please refrain from posting spoilers if you’ve already watched future episodes.
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Summer is available in its entirety on Netflix. Check back next Tuesday for reviews of episodes 5-6.