*This is a review of the Ugly Americans episode “Ride Me to Hell,” which originally aired on July 14th. I just got around to watching it this week and felt it deserved a write-up as it was not only a tremendous episode, but poked fun at one of my all-time favorite network shows as well. Enjoy!
When Ugly Americans first premiered, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. The creativity and animation that goes into constructing each character is enough to make me want to watch the show. Besides, on what other show was I going to find a dead-beat wizard who hates his job, a Koala-person and a demon with the last name Boneraper? The show follows Mark Lilly, a human social worker, as he interacts with his patients and co-workers at the Department of Integration (some of which I have mentioned above). In this particular episode, Mark’s friends have gathered to watch the series finale of one of their favorite shows, “dishonorable Discharge,” which pokes fun at the show Lost — even mentioning Lost producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse by name. Much like the Lost finale, not all members of Mark’s group are totally satisfied. The finale has a particularly troubling effect on the overly aggressive law enforcement officer Frank Grimes.
“dishonorable Discharge” appears to be a show about a detective who looks a lot like Tony Schalhoub’s character from Monk. In the series finale of the show — which ran for six seasons (Lost reference) — the main character is finally promised all the answers he has desired throughout his journey. He opens a door and is immersed with white light. Through the door, we see an angel who claims everything was a dream. The end title then flashes on the screen just like the Lost end title, and the viewer is told the executive producers of the show are Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof.
For any Lost fan, this entire sequence is brilliant. Whether you enjoyed the Lost finale or not, you can at least appreciate the joke here. Lost wasn’t a perfect show, and many things were left unexplained or ambiguous. The producers asked fans to take a leap of faith on a number of things once the series finally reached its conclusion (the whole magic light river thingy). Right off the bat, this particular episode of Ugly Americans started strong.
Once you take Grimes’ angry and overly aggressive personality and inject it into the situation, you have full on hilarity at your fingertips. The show’s ending causes Grimes to flashback to his days as a cop; where he first learned the tools of his trade. As Grimes flashes between reality and the past, we learn that he was very close with his old partner, who he tragically shot many years ago while attempting to stop a new leader of Hell from being crowned.
Thinking he can help Grimes, Mark agrees to try to counsel him. This doesn’t end well, as Grimes kidnaps Mark and drives him to LA to re-shoot the ending of “dishonorable Discharge.” On top of that, Mark’s zombie roommate, Randall comes along to film the whole ordeal. Randall’s presence deserves its own paragraph, but let’s just say his film starts as a documentary, switches to a “buddy-cop” movie and is eventually turned into a porno.
Grimes, Mark and Randall eventually reach LA and re-shoot Grimes’ ending to “dishonorable Discharge.” After shooting the scene, Grimes remembers that a new leader of Hell is set to be crowned again in a few hours. Determined to stop it, Grimes drives back across country to stop the ceremony. He arrives just in time, only to shoot his old partner — who didn’t die during the initial accident — a second time.
It’s an absurd premise to be sure, but this was probably my favorite episode of Ugly Americans yet. The Lost references certainly helped, but each character added something hilarious to the story. We may have even had a nod to Boogie Nights at the end…involving a Koala instead of Mark Wahlberg. I’m watching any show that can successfully pull that off.