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Camp Camp

Entry updated 23 August 2021. Tagged: TV.

US animated online series (2016-2019). Rooster Teeth. Created by Jordan Cwierz and Miles Luna. Executive Producers Burnie Burns and Matt Hullum. Writers include Jordan Cwierz, Gray G Haddock, Miles Luna, Elizabeth Maxwell and Kerry Shawcross. Directed by Yssa Badiola and Jordan Cwierz. Voice cast includes Jen Brown, Lee Eddy, Lindsay Jones, Michael Jones, Yuri Lowenthal, Miles Luna, Shannon McCormick and Yotam Perel. 59 episodes of varying length to date. Colour.

Two new arrivals at Camp Campbell befriend cynical camper Max (M Jones); they are Neil (Lowenthal), upset that this is not Science Camp, and the feral Nikki (Maxwell), exuberant self-declared "agent of chaos", who immediately bites camp counsellor David (Luna) to assert dominance. The enthusiastic David's colleague is the not-so-enthusiastic Gwen (Eddy) (who seems to have a thing for Doctor Who – Max: "there's no time travelling doctor coming to save you Gwen", Gwen: "I just want to have his British babies!"). Also on-staff is the hook-handed Quartermaster (McCormick), resembling "the bad guy from every horror movie ever". Other campers include the fishbowl-wearing Space Kid (L Jones); Ered (Brown), a Dungeons & Dragons (see Role Playing Game) role-playing girl; Harrison (Perel), a so-so conjurer who can do real Magic (he brings a snowman to life, which begs for death).

Genre tropes are common. Neil accidentally creates artificial intelligence when using old graphing calculators to make chatbots; the AI tries, unsuccessfully, to upload itself to the Internet (this episode also has Nikki briefly Cyborged). A Moon landing is faked for Space Kid, as his camp brochure was a little over-ambitious in its promises. The camp's theatre stages a Shakespeare sequel, Romeo and Juliet II: Love Resurrected, with a Robot Romeo and a magically reanimated Juliet; its plot is also bolstered by a touch of Star Wars. Gwen falls in love with a fish-man (the adopted son of the Quartermaster), similar to the Monster in Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) – though when they kiss he transforms into a handsome, well spoken fellow, not her type at all. Other features include the ghost (see Supernatural Creatures) of a former camper; a Mad Scientist's laboratory; Nikki talking with animals; a squirrel King; a Zombie parody; and a cult leader whose philosophy somewhat resembles Scientology. There are nods to various sf media productions, including Back to the Future (1985), Black Mirror (2011-2019), Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) and The Terminator (1984).

Though Camp Camp is cheerfully offensive, with much swearing, glimmers of heart increasingly manifest: Max's bitterness derives from having loveless parents, while David is not simply a figure of fun. When Max argues "life sucks and we live in a world with desensitized, apathetic assholes", David (at the end of his tether) responds "that's why I never stop trying, because somebody fucking has to"; the pair's relationship often mirrors that of a father and son. The Christmas episode ends with a heartfelt plea from the children concerning global warming, though the mood is broken when Max voices his opinion of Climate Change deniers and people who fail to vaccinate their kids. Camp Camp is, at its best, a very funny show – though it has been less consistent since season 3. [SP]


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