Yesterday, a friend sent me a Youtube link along with a brief note saying, “I”m not sure why I”m forwarding this to you except it”s the oddest f—ing thing I”ve seen on TV in a while, and…f—…I don”t know why…try to get through it…”
With that kind of intro, how could I not immediately dive into “Too Many Cooks”?
An Adult Swim short (created by Adult Swim vet Casper Kelly) that – like some of the channel's other weird experiments – debuted earlier this week at 4 a.m. (in a timelsot labeled “Infomercial”), “Too Many Cooks” is an elaborate parody of '80s & '90s sitcom title sequences that in time turns into… something else. As my friend said, it is the oddest thing you will have seen in a long time, but it may also be either the most brilliant or dumb thing. It may be the best 12 minutes you spend today, or you may rightly decide to turn the thing off after 90 seconds. Other than warning you that it gets very dark and violent after a point, I give you “Too Many Cooks,” and then I'll have some comments after. I apologize in advance.
Having watched that, I feel a bit the way Ron Swanson felt after being exposed to too much “Doc MacStuffins.” Now, there is no other TV; there is only “Too Many Cooks.”
If nothing else, I have to salute Kelly and company for committing to the bit. The initial “TGIF” parody phase of the video just keeps going, and going, and going… until the theme has become an earworm and it seems possible that the entire population of the United States may eventually appear in that house. But then the concept becomes elastic, allowing for “Too Many Cooks” to be not just a family sitcom, but a cop drama, a “G.I. Joe”-style cartoon, a primetime soap and a science fiction epic. And several of those gags – not to mention the serial killer haunting every iteration of the show and its cast, and catching one innocent victim because her chyron is visible behind a closet door – go on well past the point where you might have expected them to give way to the next one. The reality of the show is elastic, stretching to the point where being part of “Too Many Cooks” seems like the most nightmarish thing in the world. (Case in point, the doctor infected with “intro-itis” who pleads “Kill me now” right before he's forced to turn and smile into the camera.)
Like a lot of Adult Swim content (and the AS-influenced shows on FX, Comedy Central and elsewhere), it's a warped parody of the pop culture we grew up with, but the repetition of it and the dark places it goes…
… you know what? I'm going to stop trying to analyze “Too Many Cooks.” Instead, I'm going to watch it again. That's the only rational response.
What did everybody else think?