The titular First Day Of Camp has come to an end and so too has our coverage of Wet Hot American Summer.
Let’s bitch it out…
1×07: ‘Staff Party’
With Susie & Claude and Beth & the government conspiracy sidelined, the time is right for hook-ups, seven minutes in heaven and a few tearful goodbyes.
- If ‘Staff Party’ can be said to belong to anyone, it’s Ken Marino’s Vic. From the hilariously homoerotic cologne crotch scene with Neil (Joe Lo Truglio) to the histrionics while buying condom and lube to Vic’s inability to figure out what to do with a condom, Marino is absolutely the MVP of physical comedy in this episode.
- Sidebar: did anyone else completely forget about the virginity pact until it’s brought back up in the opening scene?
- I really like how our expectations about Vic’s journey to buy condoms and lube are subverted when everything except those items require a price check. Watching Marino yell at the top of his lungs that he wants only wants “condoms and lube!” to a crowd of customers is very funny.
- Is it bad that I laughed when the condom hits Rhonda (Michaela Watkins) in the chest and she completely fails to react? It’s like she’s such an old pro when it comes to picking up teen boys that she won’t be distracted by flying condoms.
- It’s a bit of a non-starter to introduce Neil’s high school girlfriend Shari (Beth Dover) so late in the season, so the bit when she is humiliated does little other than reinforce that these counselors are anything but kind. Shari starts the evening having a good time, which we know can only spell disaster for her. The “You’re a Pig!” song that everyone sings to (at?) her when she’s last to react is incredibly childish, which only makes her “Carrie in the showers” reaction all the sillier.
- Lindsay (Elizabeth Banks) also ends up leaving in tears after she is forced against her will to file her story because she’s a 24 year old journalist. ‘Staff Party’ delights in mocking Lindsay’s torn indecision between her responsibilities to the magazine and her 12hr long friendships at camp. When the truth finally comes out, Lindsay is blacklisted: Nancy (Nina Hellman) reclaims her diaphragm, JJ (Zak Orth) spends two minutes tearing her story into a million pieces and some guy whose name we don’t know kicks over her suitcase. Them’s the breaks, Lindsay. Back to giving blowjobs and doing bumps of coke and partying with Mick Jagger. Camp’s done for you!
- Coop (Michael Showalter) finally gives Donna (Lake Bell) the boot after she allows Yaron (David Wain) to instigate a threesome. All I can say is that if this is truly the end of this story line then thank god. It’s been the dreck of the series.
- Despite their success in the Electro/City show, Andy (Paul Rudd) is done with Katie’s (Marguerite Moreau) “hot and sour” attitude…at least until she shows him that she’s ready for mu shu pork with a little real talk and open mouth kissing. Alas their timing could not have been worse: Blake (Josh Charles) is spying on them and their PDA prompts – approved by the other Firewood counselors – inspires Blake to return to Tigerclaw and rally his 1950s-outfitted companions.
- FYI: when Tigerclaw gets riled up, they mispronounce the name of their camp as Tiggerclaw.
- Finally, Ben’s (Bradley Cooper) DJ Ski Mask is a joke that doesn’t really pay off.
- Vic (to Neil): “It is definitely time to get your dong in a thong.” That doesn’t quite sound right.
- Lindsay (refusing to write her piece about camp): “These people are my friends. I’ve known them for 12 hours!”
- Sherri (proving she can be dirty, too): “Eat my pussy Mr. Shit cocksucker”
- Vic (when everything but his prophylactics require price checks): “Just give me the condoms and the fucking lube!”
- Nancy (when Lindsay is outed as a rock journalist): “I trusted you with my diaphragm”
1×08: ‘Day Is Done’
Tracking closely with ‘Staff Party’, the series comes to a close as multiple forces threaten the future of Camp Firewood, including croquet and tennis racket-wielding counselors from Camp Tigerclaw and President Reagan’s armed forces. In the end, new romances bloom, deaths are faked and the remaining tie-ins to the film are wrapped up.
- The bet between Vic and Neil is humourously reaffirmed as both guys lie about their respective statuses despite Neil’s one-thrust loss of virginity to Shari (who is never seen again).
- The mess hall fight between Jean and the Falcon (Jon Hamm) proves to be an enjoyably madcap bit of physical comedy. Anticipating the unorthodox weapons yet to come in the camp counselor battle, the kitchen fight makes good use of localized weapons such as frying pans and mixing bowls. In a moment of weakness, Jean’s desire for the fridge proves to be his Achilles tendon: he was holding his own against the Falcon until he sidled up the fridge and took a frying pan to the head.
- Naturally this is all part of Operation Switch, which not only sees Jean swap Mitch (H. Jon Benjamin) for a novelty can of vegetables, but confirm that Falcon has actually been working for the Camp the whole time, despite murdering at least two innocent people. Thankfully everyone, including Beth (Janeane Garafalo) and later Coop, agrees that this makes no sense.
- As expected, Camp Tigerclaw brings their bougie weapons in the form of rackets (tennis and croquet) while Camp Firewood is more scrappy (Katie uses a slingshot; someone uses a frisbee, and Molly Shannon’s Gail uses paintbrushes). The fight is predictably dumb (I love that Blake and Andy are barely close enough to land their respective punches because the fight choreography is so bad). Favourite scene: Kristen Wiig’s Courtney stabbing Victor in the leg with an oyster fork, then pulling it out and licking the blood off (repeatedly!)
- Eric’s (Chris Pine) sudden appearance on the roof is less surprising than his impromptu band made up of DJ Ski Mask on drums, McKinley (Michael Ian Black) on bass and Gail on violin.
- Reagan’s ambush of the camp provides the series’ most obvious, but inspired comedic moment. After serenading the two groups of competing counselors with a song of peace, Eric’s attempt to do the same with the soldiers comes to a quick end when he is shot and falls off the roof, then run over by a humvee in a squirt of blood. It’s a completely predictable development that nonetheless managed to elicit a guffaw from me.
- Lindsay’s embrace of her journalistic integrity saves the camp and paves the way for her return, provided she leave the journo rock’n’roll and shoulder padded blazer behind so she can become a traditional (slutty) counselor.
- Unusual sound effect count: 1 – breaking glass (as always) when Beth tosses Mitch aside after spotting Henry (David Hyde Pierce) lounging on the deck of his summer rental.
- The young campers’ storyline ends with a pronounced whimper. While it is an amusing bit of unnecessary exposition to have Coop explain everything that occurred the day before, Kevin and Drew’s burying of the hatchet after Amy rejects them both is anticlimactic and dull. Had this been one of the adults, it might of been funny; instead it feels like a colossal waste of time.
- Ditto Donna and Yaron, who leave without much fanfare before Coop catches Katie in a fleeting glance at the morning flag raise.
- After engaging in divorce sex with Jeff (Randall Park) in ‘Staff Party’, Gail meets her new conquest when Ron (Judah Friedlander) volunteers to stay behind to clean up the Xenst*r toxic goo. Surely this engagement will be the one that breaks the streak, right? Lol.
- Finally, neither Amy Poehler nor Jon Slattery appear in these final two episodes and Bradley Cooper barely makes a cameo (which may explain the existence of DJ Ski Mask). I wonder if the scheduling didn’t quite work out for them? Or perhaps they committed to a few episodes in exchange for sitting out others?
- Beth (to Jean): “Wait, did you say pubic mound?”
- Mitch (to Beth): “You can renew this camp with a new energy. So much so that by the end of August, everyone will feel like they’re 15 years younger.”
Your turn: What did you think of the final battle(s) for Camp Firewood? Did any of the fleshed out backstories surprise you? In your opinion, did any of First Day of Camp not work? What provided the biggest laugh? Sound off below.
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp is available in its entirety on Netflix. No decisions have been made about a second season.