Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
This is it, guys. The final installment of my ultra-ambitious and long-winded project analyzing Regular Show. With a whopping four blog posts written over the course of nearly two months, covering about a quarter of the show’s 200-odd episodes and nearly forgetting the movie, this is a project that I’ll look back on for years and say, “wow, this was pretty modest compared to my MLP episode reviews”. Speaking of that project, my next MLP post will probably come out a week from now; I skipped out on it this week in favor of finishing my Regular Show review.
I scrambled to write this entire post in the last three days of September 2022 because I wanted to stick to my promise, and I hope it was worth it! Now let’s begin with the movie.
The Movie: I Almost Didn’t Cover This One
This is for you, commenter on my last Regular Show post.
Regular Show: The Movie isn’t on Hulu as of this writing like the rest of the show, so instead of digging up legal ways to watch it, I settled upon one of those janky episode mirror websites with weird domain names, which is my reluctant fallback for watching episodes of TV shows. Taking place between seasons 6 and 7, the movie’s plot revolves around time travel and Mordecai and Rigby’s difficult friendship. It shows us an alternate future where they are no longer friends and expands on their past by showing us their high school lives. The villain throughout the movie is their science teacher Mr. Ross, who in typical Regular Show fashion wants vengeance for something extremely petty: Rigby ruining his volleyball match. Also in Regular Show fashion, Ross’s desire for vengeance burns so fiercely that he does something surreal, which is building a time machine so he can change the past and destroy the universe with a time-nado—one that was wrongly presumed to be his troublemaking students’ fault.
This movie also reveals something interesting about Mordecai and Rigby’s backstory. Near the start, we’re told that Rigby got accepted to College University (a school that accepts anyone, with an asterisk) while Mordecai didn’t. However, we later see firsthand that the opposite is true: Rigby pretended he got accepted and made a fake rejection letter for Mordecai, because otherwise he’d lose his best friend, and that eventually landed them in their unglamorous job. Rigby eventually admits this to Mordecai, leading to a falling out and a reconciliation where they work together to defeat Ross.
While Mordecai and Rigby’s dependence on each other is usually portrayed as lopsided, with Mordecai more willing to ditch Rigby than vice versa, the future timeline shows us otherwise. Mordecai and Rigby in the future are in opposing teams in an intergalactic battle, with Mordecai on Ross’s side and Rigby with the rest of the park crew. Mordecai fatally shoots Rigby, who lands in the present and lives long enough to tell the park crew what they must do. While Mordecai appeared to be shot too, he survived and enters the past, then takes a bullet* from Ross to protect his and Rigby’s past selves. Future Mordecai lives just long enough to say that as wealthy and successful as his life was, he felt lonely on top and would have traded anything for his old friendship with Rigby.
Though any time travel plot is bound to have weird holes and head-scratching parts, this is still a very good movie that I’m glad I rewatched. It shows us that Mordecai and Rigby are practically brothers—they drive each other crazy, but they truly depend on one another. It also serves as leadup to Rigby’s high school graduation arc, and though it’s perfectly possible to follow the arc while skipping the movie, it’s still annoying that the movie is so overlooked and not always released along with the rest of the show.
* Technically a laser.
Season 8: A Massive Genre Shift
The final season of Regular Show overhauls both its genre and presentation style. Not only does the season take place in outer space, but it also puts much more focus on overarching plots. Its first two episodes end with cliffhangers as the park crew (now including Eileen) figure out what the hell they’re supposed to be doing. These episodes are followed by Welcome to Space (8.03), where the crew enters the Space Tree in which most of the season takes place. Most of the park crew is excited about this new adventure—it’s especially notable how chipper Eileen is considering she joined the team by accident. Compared to other supporting characters like Margaret, CJ, or Thomas, Eileen enjoys Mordecai and Rigby’s wacky adventures by far the most, which is part of why she gets so much screen time.
The one character who isn’t so stoked about all this is Benson, who keeps dragging down the mood and asking how to go home. He finds a room to take him back to Earth, leading to a gloomy montage where his life collapses. After years of an unsuccessful life, he watches a tape his friends put together about how much he means to them, and he breaks down crying… except the whole thing was a simulation to make him change his mind. This episode nicely gives Benson’s arc some closure, confirming he’s an important figure to his employees so that he can join them in saving the universe.
Worth noting that Anti-Pops’ first appearance is two episodes after this.
This new flavor of Regular Show is a bit of a mixed bag though—some episodes feel more like the kind of “mishaps with a freaky alien culture” episode you’d get in Futurama or Rick and Morty than Regular Show, and Lost and Found (8.05) is a prime example. It’s one of several season 8 episodes that feel disjointed from the usual appeal of Regular Show, which is not uncommon in a show’s final season. There’s also a hefty amount of new characters in season 8 who you don’t get much time to be invested in, because most of them are staff members at the space tree and that location eventually gets left behind.
This scene, man. It hits me right in the gut.
On the flip side, Stuck in an Elevator (8.12) is one of season 8’s episodes most in the show’s traditional spirit. Mordecai and Rigby have gotten tickets for an outer space performance of Fist Pump, the same band they went to great lengths to see in season 1 only to sleep through the concert, and this time they’ve come much more prepared. Rigby even says that the universe is giving them a second chance, something commonly done in a show’s late seasons to convey how far the cast has come. As the title suggests, however, they get stuck in an elevator, and that’s when things get poignant—and also a little meta. While trapped in the elevator, Mordecai and Rigby reflect on their lives and existence as though they know this show is coming to an end. It’s an earnest and heavy reminiscence on the uncertainty of the future, which eventually leads to their long-awaited payoff: they escape the elevator and, with the help of a talking bat, finally see the band live.
This episode was also one of the last I had seen back in 2017 or 2018 before I forgot to finish the show for four years—the very last was Operation: Hear No Evil two episodes later. Everything from here on out, I had never seen until I decided to watch through the show in full this year.
As it so happens, Operation: Hear No Evil is arguably the last episode with an ordinary mundane premise, which is Mordecai and Rigby avoiding a spoiler for a TV show. It’s immediately followed by plot-oriented episodes, many of which feature Anti-Pops, the show’s final villain. Seasons 7 and 8 have heavily foreshadowed Pops’ backstory and given him increasing importance, and his true origins are finally revealed in The Ice Tape (8.21). With help from a trio of humans who are willing to (and do) die for Pops’ sake, the park crew finds a video tape for Pops and takes it to a secret mountain, where Pops correctly chooses which device can play it.
The tape is from Mr. Maellard, who reveals that Pops is not his biological son. Instead, Pops is an alien who is the embodiment of pure good, destined to be at war with the embodiment of pure evil: his twin brother Anti-Pops. He landed on Earth via meteor and was found on one of Mr. Maellard’s expositions. It turns out Mr. Maellard deliberately raised Pops in the most mundane setting—the most regular, you could say—that he could think of, which is the park where all our main characters would later work. While Maellard was never the most respectful to Benson or his other employees, this scene makes it clear it’s merely the result of being a forgetful old man. We get a heartwarming moment near the end where Mr. Maellard says he may not be Pops’ real father, but Pops was always his real son. He truly cares for the son he raised, and he delayed Pops’ destiny for as long as he could to treat him to an ordinary life. But now, the time has come for Pops to save the universe, and he doesn’t feel great about that.
This reveal of Pops’ backstory may seem out of the blue, but it’s actually an elaborate callback to the first of Regular Show’s predecessor shorts: The Naive Man from Lolliland. Knowing this, it’s clear that this was something J.G. Quintel wanted to work into the show from the start, but saved until the end. If this backstory didn’t have such strong precedence, I would probably find it a little forced, but instead it’s a clever way to bring Regular Show full circle.
Pops and Anti-Pops remind me of Calliope and Caliborn, a pair of good and evil twins from Homestuck.
After a few episodes where Pops learns his mission and trains for battle, Kill ‘Em with Kindness (8.26) is his first head-on encounter with Anti-Pops. Despite all the training he’s done and cool powers he’s gained, he’s still reluctant to fight his twin brother and would prefer to settle things peacefully. This gives us a major look at Pops’ relentless optimism, an unbreakable force that ultimately saves the universe. Anti-Pops is the opposite of Pops in every way, with a completely different upbringing, refusal to befriend anyone, and even powers to dissolve things into nothingness. But like any pair of opposing characters, they do have something in common: a childish attitude towards the world. We’ve gotten to know how Pops sees joy in the silliest, strangest things and is full of childlike wonder for his surroundings. Anti-Pops, meanwhile, is a petty brat who whines when things don’t go exactly how he likes them, as shown in his many one-star reviews that he wishes could be zero-star reviews. Soon enough, the brothers enter a dramatic duel that heightens the show’s tension, and Pops barely makes it out alive with the help of his friends.
The insults to streaming services aged like fine wine, considering the recent out-of-nowhere purge of shows from HBO Max.
This included Regular Show’s successor, Close Enough, which I should probably watch someday.
I’m going through every episode from here on out: the third-last episode of the show (counting the finale as one episode) is Meet the Seer (8.27), an episode I find deliciously metafictional. The plot is driven by personifications of disc formats and a villainous personification of streaming services. The disc format characters have been part of a little sub-arc of the show that started with season 4’s The Last Laserdisc Player, and this arc comes to a head in the last few episodes. Breaking the fourth wall can either be the coolest thing ever or the most groan-worthy thing ever, and the Seer’s speech about the park crew’s adventures which are soon coming to an end is definitely on the cool side.
The Seer knows everything about the adventures the park crew has been through. She delivers a few jabs at the direction their lives went in, much like a fan critiquing the show would, which so happens to be what I am doing right now. This show knows full well it isn’t perfect and has made some questionable decisions through its course, like ridiculous amounts of romance drama and adding new characters only to shaft them a season or two later. But Regular Show is the kind of show that I can love and hold dear to me while acknowledging it has flaws. I feel exactly the same way about My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, another show close to my heart, and as for Homestuck, well… my relationship with it is complicated, but it’s far more influential to me than any other media.
Uh, sorry. I got off track here. The Seer says that while the park crew’s universe has lasted longer than most, it will soon end anyway, which feels like an honest reflection on how successful this show’s run has been. This whole scene comes off as the show’s staff reflecting on what they have been through as they near the finish line, and I admire that a lot.
Cheer Up Pops (8.28) serves mostly as a breather episode before the finale, but it does feature something plot-relevant and meta. The Blu-Ray girl, who has a hilarious sibling rivalry with her brother HD DVD, generates a physical disc series of Regular Show. This is done in a surprising act of sexual innuendo, where Benson sweats and blushes as he presses buttons on her back. I didn’t talk much about the sexual jokes sprinkled in this show, but I find it amazing that the show got away with so many of them, and especially that it has one this close to the end when the jokes were toned down. Anyway, the disc series is buried in the ground as a time capsule, and it turns out crucial to the show’s conclusion.
The Finale: Going Full Circle (like the Shape of Pops’ Head)
This scene is where we learn Pops and Anti-Pops’ birth names: Mega Kranus and Malum Kranus respectively.
A Regular Epic Final Battle, Part 1 (8.29) is the first third of Regular Show’s grand finale, and boy is it a doozy. It starts with the park crew arriving at Pops’ home planet, whose name is revealed to be Lolliland—a planet where everyone is as quaint and goofy as Pops which calls back to the show’s origins. Here, we learn that the universe resets itself every 14 billion years at the end of the battle between Pops and Anti-Pops, and Lolliland is the only planet that remains unscathed. The planet keeps records of all the prior battles in the hopes that one day, the cycle might be broken. This exposition scene is a unique blend of old and new, revisiting how Regular Show came to be while revealing some final lore about its universe—blending contrasting themes is what Regular Show does best.
Upon Mordecai’s suggestion, our heroes set up a trap to catch Anti-Pops off guard when he arrives, and it seems to kill him… except it’s a fakeout, since this is only part 1 of the finale.
Battle scenes are so annoying to get good screenshots from.
At the end of part 2, Mordecai references 2 in the AM PM—the animated short where he and Benson originated.
While the first act of the finale consisted of lore and bulidup, A Regular Epic Final Battle, Part 2 (8.30) is where the dramatic battle kicks into high gear. Pops sets a deal with Anti-Pops and duels him fist to fist, but when Anti-Pops is knocked down, he reveals he lied about the deal because he’s just that evil and petty. The opposing twins continue fighting, Mordecai and Rigby join the battle with spaceships, the rest of the park crew becomes an anime mech, and tons of other old friends (and villains) come back for the final battle. This fight is filled with obligatory series finale tropes, and I can never stay mad at obligatory series finale tropes.
Eventually, Anti-Pops becomes huge and starts wiping out the universe, and Pops becomes huge in retaliation. Though Pops puts a valiant effort to protect the universe, all the show’s cast is wiped out one by one, Mordecai and Rigby being the last to survive as they fly between the twins’ fists.
And just like that, the universe is reset, and we’re back to The Power (1.01)… or are we? I absolutely love the way this fakeout plays out: we see the title card of the show’s first episode, and it plays unedited until Rigby starts remembering things. I’ve always been fond of cyclical themes in media, where the ending recalls how it all began, because it puts into perspective how far this show has come. This scene does so perfectly while maintaining the show’s sense of humor. Mordecai thinks Rigby is full of nonsense until they encounter the Blu-Ray copies of the show that were buried in a time capsule, and they realize a glitch in spacetime caused the universe to not completely reset. Then they use the Power—the same dangerous item that drove the plot in the first episode—to skip to the end and help save the universe. When they arrive at A Regular Epic Final Battle, Part 3 (8.31), the Power shields them from getting obliterated.
The finale’s interactions with the fourth wall are brilliant and I enjoy them very much, but we’ve only just begun. As Anti-Pops continues rampaging through the universe, we get tons of head-bending fourth wall interactions like a look inside the show’s storyboards, letters from the title card, and even Pops briefly entering The Naive Man from Lolliland. These meta interactions make for a dramatic variant on the usual “reality is collapsing” trope, befitting of the show’s flavor of surrealism.
And then we get to Anti-Pops’ defeat. Pops remembers what his heart was telling him all along and rescues Mordecai and Rigby, then defeats his brother in a way never done in any prior universe: by giving him a hug. Anti-Pops says that the moment Pops lets go, he will blast the universe apart, so Pops keeps holding onto him as they fly into a sun, ending both of their lives on a bittersweet note. What’s a good finale to a show without something sad happening? While I accidentally spoiled myself that Pops dies at the end, this is still a heavy scene that shows how far Pops will go to save his friends. There are few things more heroic and poignant than sacrificing yourself to save the universe. Pops gives Mordecai and Rigby some telepathic last words, and Anti-Pops realizes he regrets all his one-star reviews and smiles in his last moments.
Elderly characters dying offscreen (in this case, Mr. Maellard) is another series finale trope that gets me teary.
After the park crew arrives back home, we’re treated to an emotional montage of the next 25 years of their lives, set to “Heroes” by David Bowie, who died a year before this episode aired. This montage is filled with little heartwarming moments, and I’ll go over them as a list:
- When she notices the park dome has returned, Margaret rushes out of the news station to give Eileen a hug.
- Mordecai and Rigby both get hugs from their parents, and Rigby’s dad is at long last genuinely proud of him.
- Mr. Maellard gloomily stares into the sky, knowing he outlived his son.
- Mordecai, Rigby, and Eileen share a group hug as Rigby prepares to move out with his wife, which is impressive because back in season 2, an impersonator of Rigby blew his cover by hugging Mordecai.
- Mordecai revisits his long-lost passion in painting, where he uses art to reflect on his romantic misfortunes. At an art show, he meets a fellow painter who he marries, giving his love life a happy ending.
- A highly family-oriented man, Muscle Man starts a huge family with Starla, while High Five Ghost starts a more modest family with Celia.
- Benson hooks back up with Pam and raises animals instead of children, which is good because I really cannot imagine him being a good father. He also inherits the park from Mr. Maellard and trains new employees.
- Skips is the only other one who still works at the park. I can only imagine his skills and historic knowledge come in handy for this new generation of mishaps at the park.
- And finally, Pops is remembered fondly, with Benson putting up a statue in his honor.
I can’t watch montages of characters of a show I’m invested in becoming old without a few tears in my eyes, and this final montage is emotional for many of the same reasons as the finale of MLP:FiM. It’s followed by a brief speaking scene with middle-aged Mordecai and Rigby, where they reflect on how Pops saved the universe and decide to check out their old video games. Then we see that Pops was watching all this in heaven, leading to the show’s very last words: “Jolly good show.” These are fitting last words because Pops was the first character in Regular Show ever conceived. While it’s hard for a series finale not to be a little divisive, the ending of Regular Show seemed to be positively received by most fans, myself included.
Now that I’ve reviewed the entire show, I’d like to answer one last question: what made Regular Show appeal to me so much? While there are plenty of different long-running TV shows I’ve enjoyed over the years, this is one of very few I was invested enough in to watch every episode, and one of only two I’ve written a blog post series about. My main reason for liking Regular Show as a kid was its sense of humor, helped by the cool action scenes. But as I grew older and revisited the show, I was impressed by how much it blends the real and surreal. Two guys work a boring job and do anything they can to slack off while fumbling through romance drama, but they also get into insane mishaps that complement the realistic sides of their lives.
As misleading as its name may be, Regular Show largely is about a bunch of adults living regular lives. It heavily focuses on the troubles of adult life, with plenty of character arcs as the cast becomes more mature and plows through their difficulties. And as it so happens, I’m early in my adult life right now. I decided to finish Regular Show after all those years because I wanted to tie a loose end from my childhood as I move forward with life. I think it’s fairly poetic that I finished the show at 23 years old—the same age Mordecai and Rigby are at the start. The age of 23 seemed so far away when I first watched the show, but I’ve reached that point right now, and there are plenty of uncertainties that come with being 23.
What is a certainty, however, is that I’m glad to have written this review of Regular Show. This is a show with a ton of heart and soul, and it’s clear that the show’s staff had a blast making it.
You could say, in fact, that it is a jolly good show.