Code Monkey Like Fritos
"Code Monkeys" is a vile and offensive show without the slightest redeeming value. And I love it.
It airs on G4, which is exactly the channel that pops to mind when you try to think of the channel that just epitomizes original television. Honestly, until I stumbled across "Code Monkeys" online at a friend's recommendation, I'd have told you that G4 was just a home shopping network channel for expensive but crappy gadgets, hosted by Olivia Munn's cleavage. The show has aired two seasons, with 13 episodes each, and a third season is planned for the summer of 2010.
Set at Gameavision, a video game company in the 1980s, the show is rendered entirely in 8-bit graphics with the sound and video effects closely mimicking video games of the era. Status icons and score totals run across the top of the screen, with points semi-erratically tallying up over the course of the episode, with health meters appearing when characters are harmed (which happens almost constantly at times). On occasion a character dies and the show is interrupted with a "Game Over: Continue?" screen that is recognizable if you have played a video game in the last thirty years. If you ever lost an entire summer to a Super Nintendo, this show is a recurring 22 minute nostalgia trip. If you're too young for that, you might just wonder the entire time why the graphics are crappier than those on "South Park."
The characters are beyond the level of surreal. The company is owned by a Texas billionaire who likes shooting employees for fun and has a mounted dolphin on his office wall. Todd, one of the programmers, constantly wears a Viking helmet, has a dungeon-like office, has imagined an entire long term sexual relationship with a "Lettuce Patch" doll, and subsists entirely on nachos. The company legally owns a Korean child to do all game testing, feeding him a diet of nothing but cigarettes, amphetamines, and pixie sticks. He lives in the air ducts like Newt from Aliens. The show has landed numerous guest stars playing versions of themselves. Tommy Chong plays, well, a stoner. Steve Wozniak appeared in several episodes as himself, being the former owner of Gameavision in the show's universe. Gary Gygax appears as himself, although he lives in a house shaped like a twenty-sided die and is in the show's reality a high level wizard.
Where the characters are surreal, the plots are downright bizarre. In one episode, Todd loses his mind, thinks he is actually his D&D character and travels to Shermer High to kidnap Molly Ringwald (who hasn't done that?). Kit from "Knightrider" appears and falls in lust with one of the male characters, which involves a good deal of gear shifting. In order to save money on strip clubs, Dave gets himself breast implants. In short, "Code Monkeys" is so bizarre that watching it on acid might actually kill your brain.
There's a great deal of meta humor involved, with the show set up as a video game about a company making video games. For example, once the show locked up and real video cut in of someone pulling out a cartridge, blowing out the dust and reinserting it. The show restarted from the beginning since old school games had no save states. If you have no idea why that is funny, then get the hell off of my lawn.
Is it a good show? Hmm, well "good" is such a relative term. It is at times, utterly wrong. There is no characterization, story arcs, or plot development outside of the confines of a given episode. It probably is offensive at one point or another to every individual on the planet. It has none of the social or political commentary that runs between the lines of "South Park." All that being said, the show has one thing going for it: it is absolutely balls to the wall hilarious.
Drinking yourself to death is expensive! -Dave
Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at www.burningviolin.com. You can email him here.