”The Self-Indulgent 200th Episode Spectacular!” Parts 1 and 2
Parts 1 and 2 Written by Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath
Part 1 Directed by Ken McIntyre
Part 2 Directed by Dave Stone
Produced by Cartoon Network/WB Animation
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
The Teen Titans get as meta as they want to be in Teen Titans Go!’s two-hundredth episode special. Cursed with boredom, a lack of plot, and a disappearing background layer in their animation, the Titans are forced to enter the real world to take the people that make their adventures to task. But what they find is an extra silly and screamingly funny exploration of what it means to be a showrunner, the grueling schedule of a weekly cartoon series, and a surprisingly sweet tribute to the Titans and their audience. As the Titans flounder here in the real world in the face of their IRL creatives, we are treated to several of possibly the most meta gags the show has ever produced, interspersed with a kind of manic formless energy that whisks the Titans from one insane interaction to the next. Though nowhere near as episodic or as sitcom-y as the rest of the series, the Teen Titans Go! “Self-Indulgent 200th Episode Spectacular” is the show’s humor and tone cranked all the way up to eleven as it delivers a hilariously wacky tribute to the characters, cast, crew, and culture of the Cartoon Network staple.
Jump City is vanishing! And, in order to escape it, the Titans have to go the one place they have never gone: through your TV! Thus begins TTGO’s 200th episode, and it just get weirder and funnier from there. Though the current incarnation of the Titans has drawn criticism for being too childish and too geared toward a younger audience, the show’s commitment to a gag can’t be denied, and this two-hundredth episode is the most extreme example of this to date.
So it stands to reason that those who haven’t been sold on the show in the previous 199 episodes won’t find much else to sway them here, but the episode's script, written by showrunners Jelenic and Horvath, taps into a deep well of meta humor anchored by touching tributes to their families, both immediate and within the production staff. You see, as the Titans discover they are unmotivated due to Jelenic and Horvath not being able to come up with a script, they decide to take it upon themselves and make up their own two-hundredth episode, because “how hard could it be?” The answer, of course, is really freaking hard, and though the Titans are superheroes, they are hilariously ill-equipped to run a television show.
A lot of this stuff might be too “inside baseball” for children, but the best part is the show is still the show, fart jokes and all. Though Jelenic and Horvath are piling gags upon other gags about the poor treatment of cartoon artists and the vanity of actors, brought to life by the voice cast of the show meeting their superhero counterparts, the pair seem to genuinely care and love their younger audience and are committed to tributinzing their efforts to entertain them. The script lives up to it’s own overlong title as characters like Jelenic and Horvath’s father and young son (voiced by their actual family members) pop in and out of the story and the show’s crew take up a large part of the cast, but the jokes just keep coming.
And as does the positive vibes that radiate from the show’s core. In the real world, the Titans learn that imagination can translate to “power” of a sort and bring joy to people. And though Teen Titans Go! has taken its lumps for not being serialized and for not delivering serious story arcs, isn’t joy the point of these characters? And if an overworked team of writers, actors, and animators can slave away at 199 episodes under the watch of an Oz-like CEO of Warner Bros. (this actually happens in the episode) then it is our responsibility to cut them as much slack as possible and laugh at the genuinely funny and clever episodes this show cranks out on a regular basis. Teen Titans Go! may not be for everybody, but for everyone else the “The Self-Indulgent 200th Episode Spectacular!” is a winner and a fitting tribute to the team behind the Titans.