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Code Monkeys: Season 1 DVD Review

Code Monkeys: Season 1

September 12, 2008

Director: Adam de la Pena,
Starring: Adam de la Pena, Matt Mariska, Andy Sipes, Dana Snyder, Tony Strickland,

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DVD Review

Code Monkeys is a television show for anyone who owned a Commodore 64 personal computer or played Pac Man for hours. It’s a show for people who can remember seeing Tron or E.T. in theaters back in 1982 and yet with a nod to contemporary gross-out humour. Set during the early 1980s when personal computers were just starting to take off, Code Monkeys chronicles the misadventures of a fictional video game company called GameAvision and its two hot shot programmers Dave (De La Pena) and Jerry (Mariska) with the latter being the more responsible of the two while the former is wild and impulsive – in other words, they complement each other.

Part of the show’s charm is the attention to detail. The look is modeled after classic video games complete with a running score, a health meter and the same, crappy 8-bit graphics with all of the characters, backgrounds and objects rendered with an 8-bit colour palette that was the hallmark of the early home computers. Each episode begins with a screen flashing, “Player 1 Start!” and ends with a black “GAME OVER” screen.

The first episode features Apple Computers co-founder Steve Wozniak playing himself as the owner of GameAvision who decides to sell it so that he can start his own company (three guesses as to what it is). In an episode named “E.T.,” Steven Spielberg hires GameAvision to create a video game for his film, E.T. in 24 hours, much to Dave and Jerry’s chagrin. At one point, programmer Todd mutters that Spielberg is, “the poor man’s [George] Lucas.” Naturally, the boys create the worst game ever as the result of Dave going to a strip club instead of a screening of the film.

Another episode not only features Dungeons and Dragons creator Gary Gygax but also references ‘80s pop culture icon Molly Ringwald. The classic Nintendo video game The Legend of Zelda must be a real fave of the show’s creators as it is referenced in nearly every episode, usually with objects from the game appearing in the background of scenes. Also look for nods to the popular Mario Brothers game series and Mega Man.

The show is riddled with numerous references to 1980s popular culture: movies, music and, of course, video games. For example, Dave and Jerry chase down a truck carrying copies of their crappy E.T. game in a scene that directly references the video game Spy Hunter. “E.T.” also riffs on what a monumental bust the movie tie-in game was and the rivalry between Lucas and Spielberg. However, 1990s pop culture is also referenced in “Stonervision” where a bank is robbed a la Point Break (1991) with Secretaries of State instead of the Ex-Presidents as the cover for the thieves.

Special Features:

The first disc starts off with two original commercials for fake games, Barfight and Crosswalk, made by GameAvision that are ultraviolent and very funny.

“Gaming Tips” features tips for playing fake games from GameAvision a la the real show on G4.

Also included are “GameAvision’s ‘2 Card Monty’” and “Downloadable Wallpapers” that are accessible via a DVD ROM drive on your computer.

The second disc features an interview with show creator Adam De La Pena who gives smart-ass responses to numerous questions, like Stepson of Pong being one of his favourite video games (?!). He talks about his love of ‘80s culture and, in particular, video games from that era. De La Pena also talks about how he pitched the show and how an average episode is made.

“A Look Behind the Scenes of Code Monkeys” features De La Pena taking us on a tour of his office and then through the rest of the offices including introducing various staff members that makes fun of these kinds of featurettes.

Also included are six “Daily Pranks,” practical jokes that Dave and Jerry pull on each other and other characters in the show.

Finally, there is “”GameAvision’s ‘Hangman’” and “Downloadable Posters” which are accessible via a DVD ROM drive on your computer.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 79%

Website: http://www.g4tv.com/codemonkeys/index.html

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