My Thoughts on Regular Show, Season by Season (Part 2 of 4)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Remember when I said I would make three blog posts reviewing Regular Show? Yeah, so… that number kind of just bumped up to four. The reason why is because I was slower with writing this post than expected and didn’t want to drag ass for too long. This post goes over seasons 4-5, part 3 will go over seasons 6-7, and part 4 will go over season 8.

To be fair, seasons 1 and 2 combined are the same length as most other seasons: 40 ten-minute episodes. So this post covers about the same amount of content as part 1, just with more text.

Season 4: Introducing Thomas

I’ll never forget how incredibly hyped I was when watching this episode’s premiere.

The first two-part episode of the show other than Terror Tales of the Park, Exit 9B (4.01-02) is one hell of a strong start for season 4. It features all the park members besides Mordecai and Rigby having their jobs switched and memories erased, and a huge showdown of the park crew against every single villain we’ve seen in the first three seasons, all led by the vengeful son of the guy whose high score Mordecai and Rigby had beaten. The episode is full of hype all the way through and raises the bar for how dramatic this show is willing to get. In the end, the day is saved by a new addition to the cast: the park’s intern named Thomas. When a show adds a new character to its main cast, the character will usually be divisive, and Thomas is no exception.

Obligatory mention that this isn’t the only character named Thomas.
We actually met Death’s son Thomas before this guy.

Though Starter Pack (4.03) is an episode focused on Thomas, where the park crew (especially Muscle Man) prank him like crazy until Thomas pranks Muscle Man in return, he only appears sporadically for the rest of season 4. In many of those appearances, he serves as comic relief while the others go on wild adventures. He’s often out of the loop on the park’s workings and only gets a few episodes where he’s treated like a regular member of the main cast. I can tell that after a while, the show’s staff didn’t know what to do with his character, which is why they eventually made him a Russian spy. I’ll discuss what I think of this twist in season 6, when it’s revealed.

On the other hand, Eileen gradually works her way up to being the main cast’s real eighth member, which she fully achieves in the final season. One Pull Up (4.10) is the first episode where she appears and Margaret doesn’t. Eileen helps Rigby learn to do a pull-up so that he can pass the park’s fitness test, but even after a bunch of training, Rigby still tries to take a shortcut by buying a device to make himself muscular. This backfires and makes the pull-up tougher, but Rigby succeeds with the skills he learned anyway (and has to go to the hospital). Rigby and Eileen have some real chemistry together, and it feels natural to see the two become closer and more supportive of each other.

Season 4 also has a few episodes bringing back early one-time characters, like the Death Kwon Do trainer or the quartet of baby ducks.

Season 4 progresses with a lot of episodes building up Mordecai and Margaret’s “will they or won’t they” relationship, and eventually we arrive at Picking Up Margaret (4.25). Mordecai offers Margaret a ride to the airport so she can visit her dream college, but she’s worried that Mordecai will get into insane mishaps along the way, which he does. But despite his tumultuous journey, he arrives just barely in time, and right before Margaret heads off, she and Mordecai share a proper first kiss. Though a satisfying scene, this episode also builds up to Margaret getting shafted for a season and a quarter—this isn’t the first time Margaret brought up the possibility of moving far away for college.

I love how Frank is the only human in Margaret’s entire family, and no one questions it.

We don’t know yet that Margaret’s dream is to become a news reporter, but it makes perfect sense in retrospect knowing her father who we meet in Family BBQ (4.32). Though very close with his daughter, Frank is initially cold and brash towards Mordecai and notoriously refuses to give him a handshake until a life-threatening situation at the very end, where it turns out that Frank simply didn’t want to lose his “hug bug”—in all his later appearances, he treats Mordecai with a lot of respect. Frank is a famed news reporter who flies a helicopter around catching criminals, and it’s clear from her later pursuit of journalism that Margaret wants to be just like him. I think this father-daughter relationship adds a lot more flavor to Margaret’s character, especially since other characters have more contentious relationships with their parents.

Party Re-Pete (4.39) is a good example of how the show’s non-romance-oriented episodes have evolved. While the early episodes had something crazy happen solely through Mordecai and Rigby’s mishaps, there’s a lot of later ones where they explore a shady company and have to get other friends of theirs out of trouble. This episode reveals that the Party Pete company we saw in season 2 imprisons people good at partying in cryogenic tubes and makes clones of them, and the latest subject of these schemes is none other than Benson, who Mordecai and Rigby have to rescue along with the real Party Pete. This show has no hesitation in making fun of corporations, which is fitting because the show has had plenty of jokes slip through the cracks of executive meddling.

The second entry in the saga of season finales focused on Mordecai’s love life, Steak Me Amadeus (4.40) has him go on a date with Margaret, but with mishaps involving counterfeit money, interruptions from a not-quite-dead group of villains, and an unfortunate twist at the end: Margaret got accepted to her dream college and can’t be with Mordecai. Mordecai gets increasingly broken and awkward from here on out, whereas Margaret is sidelined for the entire next season. If a character is set aside for this long, it comes off like the show’s team didn’t know what to do with that character, and she’s far from the only supporting character who meets this fate. CJ and Thomas run into similar situations, whereas Eileen is a success story: it’s clear that out of all the supporting characters from the show, the staff found her by far the most fun to work with. Anyway, Margaret going off to college for a season is gracious to her when you think about it: she gets some time away from the freaky near-death antics that Mordecai and Rigby cause.

Season 5: (Re)introducing CJ

Now that I think of it, the ambiguous reality of the talking pile of clothing is a lot like Calvin and Hobbes.
(Calvin and Hobbes is an even older obsession of mine than Regular Show.)

Laundry Woes (5.01) is a season premiere that focuses on recovering from the last finale. Mordecai starts the episode depressed over losing Margaret and gradually gets back to normal until he stumbles upon a sweater that Margaret didn’t bring to college. He uses this as an excuse to see Margaret again no matter how much it deprives him of sleep, and no matter how much Rigby discourages him, and though he comes very close, in the end he quietly throws the sweater in a trash can.

I’ve seen many people point out that around this part, Mordecai and Rigby’s relationship gets reversed: Rigby has become the voice of reason against Mordecai’s ridiculous escapades, except Mordecai’s focus on tiptoeing around romance instead of around his job. Another change in the show is that many of the more unrealistic events are the result of characters’ imagination and dreams, and this episode is a good example. After Mordecai kicks Rigby out of the car, Margaret’s sweater comes to life and torments him, and it’s ambiguous whether or not this was Mordecai’s hallucination. The show overall gets a little more subdued around this point, making its characters feel more believable at the cost of fewer surreal shenanigans.

I haven’t talked about Pops much in this post series, and Tants (5.10) is a good point to remedy that. Pops gives Mordecai and Rigby a gift called “Tants”, a table-pants hybrid that they think looks ridiculous and lend to Muscle Man, then accidentally ruin. But when they find out how excited Pops was about the gift, Mordecai and Rigby scramble to make their own Tants with help from Eileen. Things look promising until they rip the label off the destroyed Tants, summoning the owners of Tants Co.

This confrontation to two major friendship moments. The first one shows how much Rigby  has warmed up to Eileen: when the Tants Co. staff is about to burn the fake Tants, Rigby steps up and says Eileen worked hard to make them. This is such an endearing demonstration of character development, considering Rigby used to find Eileen obnoxious. And then comes the big one: after Mordecai and Rigby say why they made the fake Tants, Pops reveals that he heard everything and forgives the two, since their efforts to replicate the Tants show how much Pops’ friendship means to them. This is a heartwarming moment that shows what makes Pops unique among the main cast: as easily distracted as he is, he’s also by far the nicest of the group and the most forgiving. Mordecai and Rigby get free Tants due to this display of friendship, but the fake ones are burned to Eileen’s disappointment.

Sorry, Mordecai’s mom. I’ll include an image with you in season 6.

Mordecai and Rigby take even greater lengths to remedy their mishaps in The Thanksgiving Special (5.13-14), another episode whose premiere I vividly remember getting enthralled by. After destroying the turkey that was supposed to be for the park’s Thanksgiving party, Mordecai and Rigby enter a song contest so that they can get the fabled Turducken, and they drop an epic musical number about what Thanksgiving is truly about. They don’t get the Turducken in the end because of a greedy billionaire, but they do manage to snag the golden wishbone inside, which they use to save their lives. Regular Show has an affinity for making memorable episodes out of eccentric premises, in this case a holiday that gets far fewer TV specials than Halloween and Christmas.

At the end of the episode, the families of the park crew all have dinner together, and we’re treated to the first appearance of Mordecai and Rigby’s parents. While there were probably no intentions to make their parents appear at first, when a show has been running for 5 seasons, you may as well bring out the protagonists’ parents to give them some extra depth. But it’s not until the next two seasons that Mordecai and Rigby’s relationships with their parents are properly explored.

With episode titles like New Year’s Kiss (5.16), I Like You Hi, and Play Date, season 5 is honest about its increased focus on romantic relationships. In New Year’s Kiss, Rigby’s future self tells him he has to stop Mordecai from kissing a girl at a new year’s party, and Rigby goes through mishaps to ensure it doesn’t happen. In the end, Mordecai kisses a different girl in the heat of the moment, and once they take off their masks, he and his brief old love interest CJ are shocked to recognize each other. And from this episode until the end of season 6, this previously one-off love interest for Mordecai gets a great deal of screen time.

I always found it weird that the show decided to bring back a one-off character from season 3 and do this much with her. Clearly the show’s staff wanted to continue Mordecai’s difficult romance arc with a rival love interest, perhaps to make this show appeal more to adult viewers, and they must have thought it was a smarter idea to reuse an existing character than add a new one. Their new relationship is cemented in the following episode, Dodge This, where the two run into each other in a dodgeball match and are forced to acknowledge their prior romantic fling. CJ plays off Mordecai and the others in fun ways, but her role ultimately doesn’t amount to much once she storms off from the show’s cast, so I’m not sure how I feel about her heavy inclusion in the show.

The Postcard (5.19) is a rare episode that focuses on High Five Ghost and gives some long-overdue expansion of his character. High Five Ghost wants to find his old love interest named Celia who went to study abroad for four years through muddled instructions on a postcard, which a forensic police crew that includes Low Five Ghost (his brother) struggles to decode. High Five Ghost and Celia miss each other and then wind up at the same coffee shop where they first met, making this a cute little love story that gives him interests he doesn’t share with Muscle Man, like electronic music and watching animals. It also reveals that unlike his best friend, High Five Ghost hates chicken wings. This episode shows us that Muscle Man and High Five Ghost are more different than you might think: aside from their different interests, High Five Ghost is a lot more sensitive than Muscle Man and doesn’t take so easily to jokes. Later episodes will show some testy moments between them, both in the present and in flashbacks.

Gary and the Guardians of Eternal Youth are major figures in Skips lore who have appeared since season 1.

One of the most moving episodes of the show is Skips’ Story (5.24-25), where Skips tells Mordecai and Rigby the full story of how he became immortal. I really like that Skips’ reason for telling the story starts from something mundane: while Mordecai and Rigby are helping Skips install roof tiles, Rigby drops his sandwich, and he and Mordecai talk about all the cool things they could have done to recover it if they were immortal. This leads Skips to clear up their misconceptions about immortality and tell them why it’s not as desirable as they think, and that’s how the story begins.

At high school centuries ago, Skips (then known as Walks) was considered the perfect candidate to fight an immortal monster called Klorgbane using the Fists of Justice—both the monster and the fists are previously known parts of Skips lore. However, due to Klorgbane’s extracurricular activities and Walks’ newfound relationship with a girl named Mona, Walks ran into a schedule conflict and had no choice but to fight the monster during prom. He tried to avoid this conflict, but fate eventually caught up with him and Mona got killed in the crossfire. We already knew that Mona died long ago and meant a great deal to Walks, so how does the episode make her death hit hard? Simple: by showing her parents on the night before prom being mildly embarrassing but very proud. The brief appearance of Mona’s parents makes her feel much more real, and makes the viewer understand why Walks was so vengeful after her death.

Walks beat up Klorgbane and sent him back to outer space, at least for the time being. Some rough years later, he met with the Guardians of Eternal Youth, who told him Klorgbane would return in 157 years. After being warned of the depressing consequences of being an immortal among mortals, Walks agreed to become immortal because he had already lost the only woman he ever loved. Then we find out the real reason he changed his name to Skips: he had to pick a new name after becoming immortal, and he chose one in memory of Mona. Mordecai and Rigby are moved to tears and remark that they’re glad not to be immortal, then Skips reveals that he still has the trinket from Mona to this day. This show has by now reached a point where it regularly deals with heavy topics relevant to adults, and I really appreciate that this episode tackled the difficult subject of mortality.

A reveal that beneath this ordinary intern is a total badass? Honestly, I’m all for it.

Thomas Fights Back (5.37) exists entirely to foreshadow Thomas’s secret identity, and it’s incredibly fun to rewatch and pick up the hints. The park crew has to sneak into their rival park (led by a vending machine named Gene) to get their statue back, and since Thomas’s internship is soon to expire, he sees this as an opportunity to stay longer and prove his worth. He does sly things like fooling others with pre-recorded phone calls, joining the rival park’s crew under a fake identity, and being exceptionally good at looking unassuming. You can’t have a game-changing reveal come completely out of the blue, and that’s why this episode exists.

For those of you who don’t constantly get lost in TV Tropes spirals, a Disney death is when a character who looks to be dead turns out alive.

The third romance-oriented season finale, Real Date (5.40) is exactly what it sounds like: Mordecai and CJ going on a real date. They keep getting interrupted by the CEO of Couple Corral, the website where they first met, who wants them to break up so that his business doesn’t collapse. A whole bunch of mishaps eventually lead Mordecai to have a Disney death. While these fakeout protagonist deaths are everywhere in Disney movies and are seen by many as tiring, it’s very unusual for Regular Show to feature a Disney death played completely straight. This combined with the dramatic music and tears from CJ makes it a very memorable scene and a nice way to lead to this episode’s happy ending. Mordecai gives a necklace to CJ that got fused together by the gun that almost killed him, and the cake that she wanted to give to Mordecai winds up in Eileen’s hands, leading to a shippy moment between her and Rigby.

Given how rough Mordecai’s romance arc is, it’s nice for a season finale to throw him a bone for once. While I have mixed feelings on CJ’s role in the show, I do enjoy her character for what it is. She’s a lot more snarky and hotheaded than Margaret and brings plenty of surreal mishaps into the show, but the main problem with her is that the show never seems to know what to do with her when she’s not being Mordecai’s love interest. Maybe that’s just what happens when a one-off love interest is brought back into the show without being integrated much with the rest of the cast.

Wow, this post got pretty big! I didn’t think I would have this many words to say about Regular Show, but I should have seen it coming. There’s plenty of episodes in season 4 or 5 that I considered writing about but decided against, because this project was supposed to be a broad overview of the show. Still, I know myself well enough to predict that the level of detail will bump up a notch when I review seasons 6 and 7 in my next post.

>> Part 3 (Seasons 6-7)

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