Essential Episodes: Eagleheart

eagleheart essential episodesEagleheart is one of those very rare shows where it came out of the gate feeling fully formed and the first episode is a strong beast indeed, which is packed with very funny moments where Chris Elliott and co spoof many a cop show, most specifically Walker, Texas Ranger. But then with its third season it became a quite different affair, with it containing an ongoing narrative throughout the season, and it’s the first episode of that season that I’ll be celebrating here.

It begins in a graveyard with a mournful song playing over it, and regular viewers would find themselves quite shocked by the fact that we’re shown the funeral of Brett Mobley (Brett Gelman), who up until this point was a series regular and the partner of our hero Marshall Chris Monsanto (Chris Elliott). His death looks to have been quite the painful one too given that we’re shown him lying in his coffin but his stomach and groin is missing, and the next thing we know that’s confirmed as there are scenes of Chris being splattered in gallons of blood as Brett is fed in to a wood chipper. Which might not sound like the stuff of comedy, but it’s so ridiculously over the top that it’s funny and then some.

The rest of the episode sees Chris rather haunted by what he’s done, but when interviewed by Internal Affairs he refuses to tell the truth, instead suggesting that a bigger question is why “Saul Rubinek hasn’t been recognised for his film work yet, I mean the man simply lights up the screen, I mean he really does, I dare say?”, and Elliott has such charm that it’s a laugh out loud moment. As is the punch he receives to the guts for refusing to talk about Brett’s death, but that persuades him to at least attempt a fake story where he claims they cornered some goons at the lumber mill, but someone placed a wig on the woodchipper and Brett thought it was a pretty lady and so dived in for a kiss. Even better is that we get to see this, and it’s a memorably hilarious image indeed.

Chris then heads over to the Police Captain’s office where his other partner, Susan Wagner (Maria Thayer) is waiting for him, with Chris noticing that the Captain’s hand is being absorbed in to the desk, with the Captain explaining “New marshals are coming, every few decades the old guard gets absorbed and a new crop is spit out, guess my times up”. It’s almost Lynchian in its oddness, yet the way the building seems to be alive is weirdly amusing, even if it does mean the Captain is soon to sadly no longer be with us.

Chris and Maria are then given a mission to investigate missing squid at the aquarium, but before they head over Chris is wondering around outside the police station when he’s approached by a mysterious man who claims “I know what you did”. Consumed with guilt Chris spills the beans about Brett’s death, and the man tells him that Chris works for him now, but because this is a delightfully inventive show there’s a twist – the man, Bernard Moss, has spent his life going around “Cold Accusing” people for decades, not having a clue what someone may or may not have done, and it had never paid off until now.

To make things even more unusual when Bernard comes home and proudly boasts to his wife that he’s finally tricked someone, his angry son rants at him about how it won’t bring back his dead sister, or stop Mom from shooting up in the bedroom, and it becomes a beautifully funny mockery of soap opera tropes and overdramatic theatre. Meanwhile as Chris and Susan investigate the missing squid at the aquarium Chris is acting very strangely indeed, turning on all manner of machinery for no good reason, and though Susan tries to hint that she knows he was responsible for Brett’s death he completely fails to pick up on that, all of which is nicely funny due to the two very strong performances from Elliott and Thayer.

Events then become even crazier when Bernard Moss runs in to Leo Printz, who claims “I know you don’t know”, without being aware that he’s just another “Cold Accuser” of a different variety, and so he tricks Bernard in to working for him. While this is going on Chris is being forced to phone random people and try the old “I know what you did” trick on them, and at the aquarium we discover that the owner plans to counterfeit money in a most unusual manner, which involves starfish and their ability to grow back anything that’s chopped off.

The way it all comes to an end with a shoot out at the docks and a joke about carbon footprints is just sublime, and the manner in which everything is tied together is not only hilarious but astonishingly imaginative, it had me laughing an enormous amount and I’d be amazed if anyone who watched it didn’t have that reaction. It’s smart stupid comedy of the very best kind, and one which comes with a fantastically witty script and stunning performances from everyone involved.

If you need any more persuading that this is something of a comedy classic that deserves your love and attention then the fact that it’s written by Michael Koman (Nathan For You, How To With John Wilson), Andrew Weinberg (Nathan For You, Those Who Can’t) and Jason Woliner (who directed the recent Borat sequel, and this) should have you rushing out to buy it asap, it really is one of the finest comedies that everyone involved in the making of it has ever created, which given the talent mentioned in this article really is saying something.

It’s a strange, unpredictable creation, one which received a lot of praise when it was airing but now seems to have been slightly forgotten about. This is definitely something which hopefully will be rectified over time though, as it’s a series that is gloriously funny and deserving of everyone’s love. It’s definitely worth starting at the beginning as the first two seasons are full of gems, but you can do so with the knowledge that as great as it is, it actually gets even better.

★★★★★

Alex Finch.
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If you’re based in the UK, Eagleheart is available to rent via Amazon here. And if you’re in the US, you can watch it for free on Adult Swim’s website.

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