Superjail! looks like a poor man’s Metalocalypse. It uses lots of disturbing Satanic imagery, blood and gore. But the premise is more interesting: The world’s worst criminals locked away in the world’s craziest prison. Seemingly, this setting would allow for a lot of great storytelling. But Superjail!, sadly, isn’t about telling a story, but about trying to be cool and shocking. Sorry, guys, without a good plot to back that up, it gets boring.
Superjail! is about horrible criminals being tracked down by a robot who then whisks them away to an isolated prison, where much of the imprisonment is mental, because they’re forced to drink crazy drugs and stuff.
Built in an active volcano, Superjail has a population made up of dangerous criminals, fantastic creatures and a prison warden who is bonkers. The infamous complex routinely has riots and murders, and while the criminals of Superjail may escape time to time, their horrible crimes eventually bring them back.
Superjail! is disturbing. The opening scene of the whole series, though action-packed, depicts an escaped convict stealing someone’s car, running them over (with lots of blood) and then realizing there’s a small girl in the back. He drives to a pet store to buy her a bunny, but the prison’s robot gets to him first. The girl is left on the sidewalk, crying, no bunny, no parents. Okay, maybe teenage guys won’t find it disturbing, but I did.
Then Superjail! picked up. The theme song is really good, fast-paced and clever. Then the trip to prison is interesting as the location becomes more and more remote. The prisoner is dropped in and forced to drink something funky, giving him hallucinations. Trippy! Fun!
But, the fun ended there for me. Superjail! devolves into old territory. There’s lots of violence, blood, questionable sexuality and attempts at shocking “adult” jokes. I suppose all that may appeal to Adult Swim’s key demographic — young males — but how long can it last?
I’ve tried more than once to find the wonder and pleasure in this show, mostly at the prompting of the colorful emails I received in response to any opinion I posted in social media. But every time I watch an episode, I wind up bored, confused and disappointed. Sure, the animation is interesting for a while, but that’s just not enough to keep my interest. I need story. I need characters that make sense, even in a surrealistic world. As my husband said while we were watching Superjail!, “Are we supposed to know what’s going on?” Bottom line: I don’t.
The best part of Superjail! is the warden, who is more Willy Wonka than Shawshank. He controls his prisoners with a lot of drugs. He’s happy and up, while callously dealing out justice. His plans and ideas for Superjail are outlandish, and usually end in catastrophic violence.
Jared, his assistant, is the most grounded character on the cartoon. Though he knows the Warden’s schemes are disasters in the waiting, he executes them out of fear.
Alice (in header picture) is top guard in the prison, and the object of the Warden’s affections. (Does he not see the giant skorts snake and hear the husky voice?)
The Jailbot also keeps the prisoners in line.
The pilot episode of Superjail! aired on Adult Swim on May 13, 2007 during “Night of 1000 Pilots.” (There were actually only five, not a thousand.) The official premiere of Superjail! was on September 28, 2008 on Adult Swim.