EDIT TO ADD: Regular Show: Season 1 & Season 2 are now available as a combined set!
Now here's my review...
Is this a very cool cartoon?
Does it kind of suck that this DVD release doesn't contain the whole season?
I'm not going to try to tell you whether you should or shouldn't buy this release. Obviously you stand where you stand on that kind of thing. What I am going to say is that this is a seriously good cartoon. Although nominally a kid's show, it's every bit as smart as most cartoons aimed solely at adults. While barely a year old as of the time of writing, it's already quite clear that it's well on its way to becoming a cult classic.
The ironically named "Regular Show" deals with the adventures of two young adult slackers whose main aim in life seems to be coasting through their jobs as park groundskeepers while doing as little actual work as possible. Given that this is a cartoon, it isn't terribly surprising that these characters are anthropomorphic animals: the central pair are Mordecai, a blue-jay, and Rigby, a racoon. However, once we depart from that launching point things grow progressively more strange. For example, their boss at the park is Benson: a walking, talking gumball machine. Occasionally we even get to hear the gumballs rattling around inside this decidedly sour personality! Nevertheless, ordinary humans too are also often found wandering through this rather odd universe.
The stories generally start out with Mordecai and Rigby facing a relatively mundane problem, such as wanting to slack off work and go play video games. However, things quickly spiral into surreal, and potentially even apocalyptic madness. If this series has a flaw, it is that many of the episodes can be a bit formulaic in this regard. That said, they are certainly no more formulaic than most shows on television, and in any event, it would probably be fair to say that this formulaic quality only stands out because the show really is so original and exceptional on just about every other level.
The artwork in Regular Show is also rather interesting. In many ways it quite clearly takes its cues from some of the better quality, hipper animation from the early 1970's. We're not quite talking Fritz the Cat here, but we're also light-years away from the old Hanna Barbera stuff. On a purely visual level it actually bears more than a passing similarity to many of the very early original animated segments used in Sesame Street. Sesame Street aside, for many viewers the most familiar reference point will be the old 1990's Nicktoon Hey Arnold!, which likewise clearly alluded to this same artistic linage. The style of art in Regular Show is very similar to that found in Hey Arnold!, except that in Regular Show the colors tend to be lighter, the coloring more solid, and the overall composition less dense. Of course, this lighter, more spacious composition is entirely fitting for a cartoon set largely in parkland rather than urban sprawl.
What's also interesting about this show is that contrasted against the 1970's influenced artwork, many of the technological and pop cultural references within the show are drawn from the 1980's. For example, audio and VHS cassettes feature prominently, and in one episode we even get to revisit the New Kids on the Block. The video games Mordecai and Rigby are forever so focused upon also tend to have a decidedly 1980's feel to them. If you're a mature viewer, I think you'll find that it's a show that repackages and reimagines many of your old memories, often in quite surprising ways.
Overall, I would say that if you have any interest in animation at all, you HAVE to check out this show. The show itself I'd give five stars in a heartbeat. But as for whether you should part with some cash and buy this particular release..?
That's up to you.