Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
For those who don’t know, Regular Show is an eight-season Cartoon Network show directed by J.G. Quintel that ran from 2010 to 2017. In short, it’s about a bunch of guys who work at a park and get into mishaps that lead to surreal adventures. But there’s much more to Regular Show than that, and in this three-part blog post series, I want to review this show and give it the justice it deserves. This post goes over seasons 1-3; the next two will go through seasons 4-6 and 7-8 respectively.
EDIT: Change of plans, this is now going to be a four-part blog post series. The next three posts will go over seasons 4-5, 6-7, and 8 respectively.
Regular Show is a show that I have a long history with. I remember the day I first watched it in I want to say January 2011, on the old tiny TV in my parents’ bedroom when I was home alone, and it didn’t take me long to get hooked and follow almost every episode live from season 2 through 5, then inconsistently in season 6. As much as I enjoyed the show, I eventually stopped following it for a good while as my parents got rid of our cable TV in favor of streaming services. That didn’t stop me from watching episodes on unofficial mirrors online, which I did several times from 2016 to 2019, but I never quite finished the show. Eventually, over the course of the past month, I binged the entire show on TV with my family Hulu subscription until I watched the final episode on August 10, 2022.
Given that it took me over a decade between first watching and finishing Regular Show, and that it had a fair amount of influence on my life—my main Internet username before my current one was WikiRigbyDude—I think it’s only right to talk about this show on my blog. But don’t worry, I won’t make a lengthy ambitious post series analyzing every episode. Instead, I’ll talk about the show season by season in three blog posts, and discuss various episodes along the way that I think are highlights. Unlike a certain show involving horses, most Regular Show episodes are only ten minutes each, meaning there’s usually not that much to say about each one.
Season 1: The Unhinged Madness That Started It All
Yes, this scene is from the very first episode.
The Power (1.01) is the first episode of the show, and it gives a good picture of what the show’s early seasons are like. In most season 1 episodes, Mordecai and Rigby (the dual protagonists) have a simple, mundane problem, whether it be fixing a hole in their bedroom’s wall, getting tickets for their favorite band’s concert, or buying their boss Benson a grilled cheese sandwich, and their affinity for quick shortcuts instead of getting work done leads something ludicrous to happen, like getting sent to the moon where they have to save their coworker Skips from an evil monster. At the end of each early episode, the duo often doesn’t get what they want anyway, or if they do, Benson is enraged at them for slacking off and threatens to fire them. Many of the show’s most memorable episodes are in season 1, since as the show progresses it tones down the wackiness some in favor of character arcs and romance drama. But we’ll get to that later.
Out of season 1’s twelve episodes, one stands out for being more emotional than the rest: Don (1.10). At this point, Rigby is by far the laziest and most immature of the main cast, and when his brother Don is hired to do an audit to save the park, everyone is happy and excited to see him except Rigby, who’s felt overshadowed by Don all his life and consistently refuses to give him some sugar (which is to say a hug). The heavy moment is when Rigby tells Mordecai he doesn’t know what it’s like to have a brother, and Mordecai responds by saying Rigby is like a brother to him—someone who drives him crazy, but is important and dear to him regardless. After Rigby reveals that Don is his younger brother despite appearances, Don talks about how much he always looked up to Rigby, and how he always walks around without clothes because Rigby does, which is remarkable because very few other characters don’t wear clothes. But they don’t reconcile right away; only when the park is about to be destroyed does Rigby step up and give his brother some sugar.
This memorable episode gives us our first look at how difficult some of the main cast’s childhoods were, and it plants the seed for further moments in the show where Mordecai and Rigby’s friendship is tested. We’ll get a lot more of those in later seasons.
Season 2: Nostalgia Galore
For the most part, season 2 is more of season 1, except with more focus on the park workers outside of Mordecai and Rigby. We get a few episodes focusing on Skips, the immortal yeti who often busts the two out of their problems; Pops, Benson’s friendly and scatterbrained boss in name only; and Muscle Man, the annoying green guy famous for his “my mom” jokes who eventually becomes much more sympathetic. There’s also High Five Ghost, Muscle Man’s quiet sidekick who takes much longer to get his own episode.
These are the most nostalgic episodes of the show for me, because that was the time where I initially followed it live on Monday evenings and got very excited to watch a new episode. All the while, I tried my best to catch reruns of every season 1 episode, and some of them took me a long time to see. Regular Show quickly became a big obsession of mine that I memorized all sorts of information about, and I even dressed as the creepy British taxi from Ello Gov’nor (2.01) for Halloween once. As you might have guessed from my old username, Rigby was always my favorite of the main cast, and I think he still is. He may be a spacey buffoon, but that’s what’s cool about him. He doesn’t think too hard when getting through life, and that often leads him to have a better time than Mordecai.
This episode is also the first time we learn that Benson can play drums.
One of the highlights of season 2 is This Is My Jam (2.13), where Rigby gets a catchy song stuck in his head. When the song finally is out of his head, it turns into a living cassette tape that the guys can only defeat by making another catchy song in retaliation. The main reason this episode sticks out to me is because the song “Summertime Lovin’” really is insufferably catchy in just the right way. While typing these words, the song is playing in my head right now. And if you’ve seen the whole show, then it’s likely the song is playing in yours too.
Lots of surreal events in this show arise from technology mishaps. Especially involving spilled liquids.
What else happens in season 2? Rigby dies twice, recurring characters are introduced like Mr. Maellard, Death, and Starla… I’ll talk more about them later. Another highlight of the season is Grave Sights (2.19) for one reason: it’s extremely hype. Mordecai and Rigby screen a zombie apocalypse movie to the park, but a technology mishap causes zombies to appear from the graveyard. The guys fight zombies in parallel to the events of the movie, and the audience thinks it’s all part of the show. It goes so well that Benson asks Mordecai and Rigby to host the same show tomorrow much to their panic. Though this show is normally saturated with absurd humor, this episode kicks ass without a trace of irony, and I love that. Almost every episode in season 2 has events make something unrealistic happen, and this repeated formula leads season 3 to twist things up a bit.
One more thing worth noting: the early seasons have a LOT of adult-oriented jokes that I’m amazed were allowed on this show (the late seasons to a lesser extent). I know a lot of them were cut out of international airings, but these jokes still give the show a lot of personality and set it apart from other Cartoon Network shows of its time.
Season 3: Backstories and Testy Romance
Warning: the level of depth is going to ramp up in this section.
Stick Hockey (3.01), the first episode of the season, gives a pretty good picture of what season 3 does differently from the first two. Mordecai and Rigby find a new distraction from their work: a stick hockey game in the park’s garage. Benson is predictably frustrated, but tells the two that if they finish their work today, they can keep the game… except when Mordecai and Rigby finish their work, they find that Benson sold it anyway. The two are enraged at Benson and set out to get the table back by themselves, and Pops and Skips both condemn Benson for what he did. Mordecai and Rigby eventually land in a high-stakes stick hockey tournament, and Benson comes in and reveals that he was a stick hockey player in his youth who watched his apprentice die right in front of him, leading him to save the day and get the table back.
Like many others in season 3, this episode fleshes out a member of the main cast outside the lead duo. It does a great job showing Benson’s pitfalls as an employer and his difficult past, and it shows that there’s more to his life than being an irate boss. The episode sets the stage for his character arc where he gradually learns to treat Mordecai and Rigby with more respect.
Death is quite a fun character.
He gives us several “deal with the devil” episodes, but he’s ultimately an ally of the main cast.
Skips Strikes (3.03) does something similar with Skips, though his backstory is described bit by bit until season 5 rolls around. Though he normally knows how to keep his cool, Skips’ flaws are his excessive sense of pride and secrecy about his past. Death nearly sabotages the park’s team from winning a bowling tournament (plus the team’s souls) by threatening to tell a secret about Skips’ past, and Skips leaves the team at first but then rejoins when he realizes his friends are more important than his secrets. This episode reveals that Skips used to be called Walks, and he claims that he changed his name because he was tired of people asking why he’s called Walks when he skips. This isn’t even close to the full story, which makes this episode a little weird to rewatch, but I think gradually hinting at his backstory makes the full reveal all the more emotional.
Season 3 also begins the Terror Tales of the Park series, where characters take turns telling Halloween stories. Most of the stories are pretty tame and humorous, but a few of them are among the creepiest content the show has to offer. It’s a fun per-season tradition that isn’t that relevant to the show’s overall progression, so don’t expect me to say much about most of them.
I remember I broke down crying when I missed this episode’s premiere.
(Yeah, I threw tantrums a lot when I was younger.)
Though probably best known for a memetic video called “They Cussed on The Regular Show?!?”, Camping Can Be Cool (3.06) is also a good excuse for me to talk about Margaret and Eileen. We first met them in season 1 and 2 respectively, but this is one of the first times they hang out with Mordecai and Rigby outside of the coffee shop where they work. I really enjoy the slice-of-life shenanigans the four of them go through before the trip goes crazy. Even in a show as wacky and bizarre as this one, sometimes characters need to do ordinary things like setting up a camping trip so that they feel more real and believable. This episode gives plenty of time for Eileen to be an adorable nerd, and while Rigby found her insufferable at first, this episode is where he starts to warm up to her, which is really cute. It’s also nice to give some more personality to Margaret aside from being Mordecai’s love interest; she’s portrayed as friendly but with a somewhat morbid sense of humor.
Season 3 has several other episodes focused on the same group of two guys and two girls, and Mordecai and Margaret’s romantic tension gets teased in all of them. When rewatching those episodes, I found myself paying more attention to Rigby and Eileen’s relationship, since three seasons later they are revealed to be dating. And because Eileen in general is ridiculously adorable, possibly the cutest character in the show.
This episode didn’t get away with having the actual ashes of Muscle Dad, but it did get away with Rigby throwing a brick at a cop.
(I think I recall reading that on Calvin Wong’s Twitter.)
After some more testy episodes involving Mordecai and Rigby’s relationship with Benson, and their relationship with each other, the next main character to get fleshed out is Muscle Man in Trucker Hall of Fame (3.31). This episode focuses on Muscle Man’s relationship with his recently deceased father, who appears as a ghost once his wish of spreading his hat’s ashes is fulfilled. He has a breakdown when he learns that his father wasn’t a trucker but a forklift driver, but after reading a letter, he follows his old man’s last wishes with the help of Mordecai and Rigby. The very end is the most touching part: while Mordecai and Rigby are asleep, he admits that he views them as dear friends, and crude pranks are just how he learned to show it. Then he farts.
By this point, the show has made it clear that beneath his vulgar attitude, Muscle Man has his own style of honor and respect for others, which he also heavily shows in his relationship with Starla. Out of the show’s main cast, Muscle Man has it by far the best with romance—from mid-season 2 onwards, he maintains a stable relationship with basically a female version of himself. He’s even the first of the group to get married. If he and Starla didn’t have such grotesque designs, their relationship would be unbearably cheesy.
Diary (3.34) is notable for a 3x bombshell combo near the end. Because Rigby didn’t keep his eyes closed when Skips helped him and Mordecai restore Margaret’s diary, the three of them each need to tell a big secret in return. Skips reveals that the reason he always skips is so that he would never forget the love of his life, who he used to skip with. This is a big step in revealing his backstory, and it subtly shows a peril of immortality: just because your life is infinite doesn’t mean your brain has infinite space to store all your memories.
Mordecai’s secret is insightful to his character too. When he ordered beds for himself and Rigby, he only pretended Rigby’s never showed up: it turns out he secretly combined the two beds for himself because it’s so comfortable. This secret demonstrates Mordecai’s selfish side, which is a reason for both his testy relationship with Rigby and his bad luck with the ladies.
The final and most memorable secret is from Rigby: he thinks Eileen is hot without her glasses on. Eileen had a big crush on Rigby since her debut, and it didn’t take very long for Rigby to start returning those feelings. Compared to the tumultuous arc with Mordecai’s love interests, Rigby and Eileen’s relationship arc is handled a lot more subtly, and I really appreciate that. The buildup to their reveal is fluid and shows a surprisingly sweet side to both of them.
No matter how hard you try to make time travel in a work of media be consistent, there’s always going to be something illogical and weird.
That’s simply unavoidable.
Season 3 ends with Bad Kiss (3.40), where Mordecai’s first kiss with Margaret is ruined because his breath smells bad. He and Rigby travel through time to undo the kiss: at first they create some stable time loops that tie the plot together, but then that’s thrown out the window as the timeline is altered, and in the end their future selves disappear and the kiss doesn’t happen. This is the first of four season finales in a row that focus on Mordecai’s love life, which I think is pretty weird. My biggest problem with this era of the show is that it spends too much time focused on romance drama, and a lot of scenes involving Mordecai’s love life are downright painful. Thankfully, the show as a whole is good enough that I enjoyed myself even when rewatching those episodes.
I tried to keep my season-by-season thoughts on Regular Show concise, but as usual, I’ve failed miserably. I originally wanted to write one blog post about Regular Show, but I guess I’m writing a post series after all! Don’t worry, instead of being over 100 posts, it will only be
three four posts.