Despite numerous attempts—many of them responsible for some of the strangest, most interestingly upsetting online content of the last few years—Adult Swim has never managed to match the sheer viral punch of Too Many Cooks. The 2014 short caught the internet totally off-guard when it debuted, unannounced, at 4 a.m. on the network’s schedule, weaving a steadily worsening surreal horror around its ostensibly wacky “endless sitcom” premise.
Now, the network has tapped the creators of that original masterpiece for a new bit of video weirdness, recruiting writers Casper Kelly and Nick Gibbons—lately of the network’s damned live-action sitcom Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell—for an attempt to apply the Cooks formula to an avenue of content that was still in its earliest stages when the pair’s last video first aired: Let’s Play videos and online streams.
Thus Final Deployment 4: Queen Battle Walkthrough, which the network placed on its site earlier this week. Like Kelly and Gibbons’ earlier offering, the video applies a “rake gag” approach to a familiar format, as a note-perfect Twitch-like streamer boorishly walks players through the title boss fight of a passably-shitty-looking shooter, complete with glitchy strategies, bad on-screen captions, and the occasional pity-mention of his sick mom in Florida. Once the big alien bug goes down, though, things get stranger and stranger, invoking the same sorts of nested realities that were such a key part of Cooks’ appeal.
And if this latest video can never hope to match its predecessor in innovation or horror, Final Deployment 4 does, at least, have a more cogent point behind it, commenting in nasty but brutally honest fashion on the ways we work the system to generate “content,” and to generate some facsimile of desperate meaning for ourselves.