As Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp transitions into nighttime (and the back half of the season) we have nuptials and plays to get through.
Let’s bitch it out…
- With no flashbacks, ‘Dinner’ is primarily the tale of how Jonas (Chris Meloni) becomes the muscle tee, bandanna wearing chef he is in the film. After an innocuous prank call gone-awry, Jonas chases Victor (Ken Marino) – slasher movie-style, of course – through the woods for hours, nearly missing his own wedding to Gail (Molly Shannon) in the process. When he finally comes to his senses, Jonas makes it to the Mennonite ceremony on time, only to find his place usurped by librarian Jeff (Randall Park). This entire extended story line is suitably ridiculous, from Victor hiding in plain sight (under a blanket, on the back of a door, with a pot over his head), to the over/under a tree branch sight gag to Gail’s impulsive decision to swap grooms at a moment’s notice in order to try Jeff out (totally called it, btw). It’s all very, very silly.
- Callback reference: Gail requiring the advice of her young charges to solve her relationship problems. Here it’s a group of girls, several of whom correctly refute Gail’s claim that she and Jonas haven’t seen each other that day.
- With so much time dedicated to Jonas, nearly all of the other story lines are given a short shrift. Faring best is the not-so-slow dissolution of Susie (Amy Poehler) and Ben’s (Bradley Cooper) relationship. While it’s far more puppy love between Ben and McKinley (Michael Ian Black) as they practice their adorable zoot suit number for Electro/City, Susie’s seduction by sex-obsessed Claude (Jon Slattery) happens with surprising ease. I quite liked how Susie reassures her older paramour that she isn’t one of those easy Broadway girls who gives BJs for parts…and then promptly puts out.
- Beth (Janeane Garofalo) and Greg (Jason Schwartzman) recruit lawyer Jimmy Piss-Pot (Michael Cera) for the “public urination case of the century” against Xenst*r. I’ll freely admit that I’m not quite ready to welcome Cera back into my heart, plus these scenes have a certain undercooked feel to them, though Beth and Greg’s inability to disguise themselves (despite clipped hair and colouring, they look exactly the same) is mildly amusing.
- After an episode off, Coop (Michael Showalter), Yaron (David Wain) and Donna (Lake Bell) are back, talking about triangles and turds in a laugh-free dinner scene.
- Donna’s totally right, though: people who don’t drink are total Freddie Fuddyduddies.
- More bizarre than amusing is Lindsay’s (Elizabeth Banks) trip to the abandoned cabin. There she discovers Eric (Chris Pine), the angry lead singer/recluse, who demands she leave so that he can rock both a guitar and a can of tab.
- Whose wig is worse: Jonas’ or Eric’s?
- My favourite (recurring) joke: characters appearing and disappearing out of thin air. Nurse Nancy leaves the Infirmary and a second later Victor and Neil (Joe Lo Truglio) appear without seeing her. Later Victor disappears out from under a sheet when Jonas searches the cabin and finally Claude appears out of nowhere around the corner of the Mess Hall when he propositions Susie to dinner. None of the appearances are gut-bustingly funny, but the recurring gag becomes more amusing as the instances add up.
- Unusual sound effect count: 1 – broken glass when Jonas tosses the knife.
- On the dinner drink menu: bug juice. Perhaps it’s chock-filled with vitamins?
- Finally: no kids this episode. Yay!
- McKinley (as Susie delivers her monologue about pain): “Is she always like this?” Ben: “Every day.”
- Claude (when Susie calls him Mr. Duvet): “Oh please, just call me Mr.”
- Susie (after Claude encourages her to freshen up before their private dinner): “Well I’m young, so I’m squeaky clean.”
- Andy (to JJ, after a fart joke prompts Katie to smile): “I’ll fart my way into that snatch, just you watch.”
- Coop: “It really, really sounds like he’s saying ‘turd'” Donna: “He’s saying ‘turd'” Yaron: “Turd. Like what happens in the toilet.” Donna: “Oh, I guess I misheard it.”
- Susie (when Claude tells her to get naked): “Ok, I feel uncomfortable but I know you have my best interests at heart”
Playing much like a season finale, ‘Electro/City’ encapsulates the season’s two long running story lines as both the musical and the case against Xenst*r get their day in court (in one case, literally).
- The musical comes together in the end, despite Andy’s (Paul Rudd) terrible singing, the fact that the music seems cobbled together from other (more successful) productions and every costume has seemingly been attacked by a bedazzler. The size of the production is hillariously out of proportion to the one day prep time (I especially enjoyed the off the shoulder lycra outfits that somehow fit everyone just right). While Andy and Katie (Marguerite Moreau) try to conceal their burgeoning attraction behind the performance of show business, at least Ben and McKinley get their kiss and Ben and Susie come clean about their mutual infidelities.
- Other Electro/City highlights include the crowd’s rapturous, slow-motion reaction to the overly complicated final lift – a move better suited for the So You Think You Can Dance stage than community theater.
- I also quite liked JJ’s overzealous reaction to everything (which is consistent with both the character and a callback to his maniacal appreciation of the talent show in the film)
- Less amused by the musical: Blake (Josh Charles), who suffers the indignity of attending Camp Tigerclaw’s dance solo, despite Courtney’s (Kristen Wiig) sexual advances. Wiig continues to make the most of her brief cameos and the return of Blake is a reminder of how much the show benefits when Charles’ sullen fratboy is involved.
- Back in the city, Greg, Beth and Jim stand firm when confronted by Xenst*r’s army of lawyers (who enter wielding a large number of boxes on carts…that are strictly there for show). Head lawyer Martinson is played by Bruce Greenwood, an actor who typically sticks to dramas, so it’s refreshing to see him cut loose and climb on a few desks. The courtroom theatrics are appropriately satirical, especially the Judge’s ruling (without consultation of the jury) for Camp Firewood after several floppy discs are admitted into evidence. Alas the celebration is short-lived when the Falcon (Jon Hamm) kills both Jim and Greg in cold blood during the press conference. Arguably the most ridiculous sight gag of the episode is the fact that Greg survives a close range head shot to the forehead from a rifle long enough to urge Beth back to the safety of camp.
- Lindsay’s attempt to reassure reclusive musician Eric that the music is inside him includes playing his body like a drum set and it’s horribly unsexy (which is great considering the music is working overtime to craft a romance backdrop). Her voice over dialogue also continues to amuse.
- Ugh, the kids are back. Dibs on chucking this story out like Gail’s quickie marriage to Pete. At least the hours-long married couple got to have make-up sex. All we get is this crap.
- Riskiest joke: Susie turning Claude down for an assistant job in NY while reassuring him that he’ll find another underage girl. Wet Hot American Summer excels at a variety of humour, but this is probably the blackest / most inappropriate so far. Keep the PC police away from this episode!
- Johnny (when he’s described as young by Martinson): “I’m old enough to take a big, fat shit on your face.”
- Judge (calling after Jim): “Counselor?” Beth & Greg: “Yes?”
- Gail (to Jeff during intermission): “It’s our first date as a married couple.” Jeff: “And also ever.”
- Ben (to Susie, after their both admit to cheating): “Ok, let’s say ‘with whom’ on three. One, two, three” Both: “With whom?!” Ben: “Ok, let’s just say who we did it with on three.”
- Courtney (describing Blake’s relationship with Katie): “Or maybe you’re the town to her cunt…<5 second pause>…try. Country.”
- Courtney (after witnessing the end of the musical): “God, Electro/City is such a cruel place to live!”
- Andy: “But none of that was real, right? You’ve got a boyfriend and I’m just some guy that farts in your face and makes you laugh.”
Your turn: what did you think of Gail’s romantic affairs? Did you enjoy Electro/City in all its tackiness? Will Lindsay get her scoop? Happy that Ben and Susie have broken up? Do you care about the kids? Surprised that Greg was murdered by Falcon? Sound off below, but please refrain from posting spoilers if you’ve watched ahead.
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp is now available in its entirety on Netflix. Check back next Tuesday as we wrap up the season with our review of episodes seven and eight.