Code Monkeys: Season One review, Code Monkeys: Season 1 DVD review
Starring
Adam de la Peña, Matt Mariska, Andy Sipes, Dana Snyder, Tony Strickland, Gretchen McNeil, Suzanne Keilly, Lionel Tubbins, Julia Rose
Director
Adam de la Peña
Code Monkeys: Season One

Reviewed by Will Harris

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here’s nothing wrong with being a geek, and lord knows that the people who run the cable network known as G4 positively revel in their geekdom, but sometimes you just have to ask yourself, “Am I too geeky?”  If you’ve posed this question, then you’ll want to check out “Code Monkeys,” G4’s animated series about a bunch of video game programmers in the 1980s. The show regularly reminds the viewer that not only are there way bigger geeks in the world than you or I, but also that they can use their powers of geekery to produce one very funny TV show.

Welcome to GameAVision, a heretofore-unknown video game company started by Steve Wozniak, apparently at some point prior to his move over to Apple, Inc. It’s the early 1980s – possibly 1982, but it’s never declared definitively – and Woz (that’s what his employees call him) is one of the best bosses of all time. But things go pear-shaped when the Wonderful Wizard of Woz decides to sell out to a Texas billionaire named Bob “Big” T. Larrity, whose only knowledge of video games is how much potential they have to make him even richer than he already is.

The GameAVision employees are a mixed bunch. There’s Jerry, a hard-working and dedicated young programmer who’s the most diligent member of the staff, thereby making him the complete antithesis of his office mate, Dave, who’s constantly drunk, high or humping various pieces of office equipment. Somehow, however, the two have become a solid team, creating many classic games for the company, including “Barfight,” “Hooker Patrol” and “Floating Space Rocks.” Todd Friedman may be the greatest geek character this side of “The Big Bang Theory,” coming across as a blend of Dwight Schrute and a grown-up (if not actually mature) version of Jason from “Home Movies” (all the while sporting an ego almost as significant as the Viking helmet he regularly sports). Black Steve might be a cliché – he’s the office’s lone African-American employee – but he’s no less funny for that, particularly in the episode when it’s revealed that he once worked as an underground wrestler known as the Black Shadow. Come to think of it, pretty much everyone in the office is a cliché, including the women (Clare’s promiscuous, Mary’s all about the girl power); the token gay character (Clarence is so flamboyant that his every line of dialogue is delivered like it’s the chorus of a Cher song); and Mr. Larrity’s adopted Korean son, Benny Lee. The series as whole, however, is so funny and creative that you can forgive these cookie-cutter characters.

“Code Monkeys” is animated using an 8-bit color palette, thereby giving it the appearance of an actual video game from the ‘80s, and to take full advantage of the resemblance, there’s a score at the top, the characters constantly find themselves in scenarios that involves them jumping over chasms, climbing vines and so forth. The sense of humor is not terribly far removed from “South Park” or a Will Ferrell film, but beneath the low-brow comedy lies some of the geekiest plots imaginable. Guest stars include the aforementioned Mr. Wozniak, along with the late Gary Gygax (who has to assure Todd that sexual stamina is not actually a “Dungeons & Dragons” attribute), John Romero (developer of “Doom”), and Nolan Bushnell (founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s). There are premises that involve technology conventions, D&D and even the infamous “E.T.” video game.

“Code Monkeys” is a twisted little show, and it’s not for all tastes, but if your sense of humor veers toward the dark side and you immediately thought of “Star Wars” when I used the phrase “the dark side,” then you’ll love it. But you don’t see anything funny about the revelation that Adolf Hitler didn’t actually die in 1945 but was instead frozen in carbonite, then this isn’t the cartoon you’re looking for, so move along.

Special Features: You may not want to watch the interview with creator/voice actor Adam de la Pena, which is more obnoxious than enlightening and proves unequivocally that de la Pena is Dave. “A Look Behind the Scenes of ‘Code Monkeys’” isn’t dramatically better, but at least we do get to meet a few of the cast members and behind-the-scenes folk. Also included are “Code Monkeys Daily Pranks” (Dave’s best pranks), promos for games called “Barfight” and “Crosswalk,” original GameAVision games to play on your computer, downloadable wallpapers and posters, and gaming tips from G4’s Kristin Holt.

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