Finally, an opening credits sequence so long and involved that it requires its own closing credits.
Adult Swim, the late-night conga line of programming that Cartoon Network has perhaps become best-known for, never shies away from the bizarre. The shows under its banner tend to cater to a substance-impaired collegiate audience, so absurdity is pretty much its standard M.O. The other night, however, Adult Swim may have topped itself by airing an unexplained, utterly mind-warping, 11-minute opening credit sequence for a nonexistent show called Too Many Cooks, which encompassed many genres of TV shows and left behind a body count. Co.Create sought out the writer/director behind this magnum opus to find out how it came together.
“It started as just a shower idea I didn’t know what to do with,” says Casper Kelly, co-creator of the Adult Swim show, Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell. Kelly remembered a ’90s sitcom, possibly Family Matters , adding a couple extra characters one season and suddenly having a longer opening credits sequence. After word of this idea-nugget spread to Adult Swim overseer Mike Lazzo at a party, Kelly got the go-ahead to make something out of it. The only problem was, it had to be 11-minutes long–the standard-length of all shows in the programming block that includes Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories and The Eric Andre Show. Kelly scrambled to come up with ways to take the joke beyond an extended-credits concept and to a truly memorable place.
Lucky viewers glazed out in front of their TVs on Wednesday night at 4 a.m. suddenly found themselves having to countenance what looked at first like an episode of Full House. “Too Many Cooks” starts off as the typical opening to a ’90s sitcom, complete with doofy theme song and blandly expository character intros. It doesn’t take long, however, for the initial joke to kick in–this show keeps relentlessly introducing characters.
Viewers don’t even have enough time to register that, haha, now the title makes sense, before things start getting weirder. Characters introduced include multiple sets of twin children, Snarf the magical animatronic cat, and too many actual cooks. Eventually the show begins switches genres, morphing into a workplace comedy, a cop show, and a cartoon–and only after that, do things truly begin to spiral out of the boundaries of psychiatric wellbeing. Without the context of a blog post like this one to let viewers know something crazypants was about to happen, it must have been quite a journey for the viewer randomly up at 4 a.m.
Those who watch Adult Swim to completion religiously, however, would be less surprised. The programming has recently included one fake infomercial a week, airing at 4 a.m., just to bewilder anyone who stumbles across it. Past entries have included Fartcopter and Alpha Chow & Goth Fitness. Adult Swim just happened to have an extra slot open at the time, and the powers that be decided it would be a perfect place to host Kelly’s bizarre vision, even though it wasn’t an infomercial. The response on Twitter alone has been rapturous. Although approval of Too Many Cooks has spread pretty far, the core audience seems especially happy. Only a brand that respects its audience’s mental durability would air something this next-level bonkers.
“I’m kind of attracted to that style of comedy where you repeat something and it gets annoying, but then it gets funny again,” Kelly says. “But that’s always a risky proposition, and there’s a point where it becomes annoying again forever. You’ve got to zig and zag right when the audience gets bored.”
The creator assures that he will “absolutely” be doing something like this again, so one assumes if he repeats himself, it will only be in a wonderfully baffling kind of way.