Aqua Teen Hunger Force
Written and directed by
Aqua Teen Hunger Force, sometimes abbreviated as ATHF, or known more simply as Aqua Teen, is an animated television series currently airing on Cartoon Network's late-night block, Adult Swim.
The show is about three human-sized living fast food items named the Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and their quick tempered neighbor having crazy adventures in New Jersey. The characters are Shake (a milkshake), Frylock (a box of french fries), Meatwad (a piece of ground beef), and Carl (an actual human being). The show has undergone lots of format changes, including the detective aspect of the show being wiped out almost completely. Continuity between the series is virtually non-existent, and every major character has died at least once.
Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad originally made their appearance in an episode of Space Ghost Coast Coast named "Baffler Meal," which was not produced until ATHF became popular. Voice cast members Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro also are the co-creators and producers of the show. Keith Crofford and Michael Lazzo are executive producers.
ATHF is one of four original Williams Street series that debuted on Cartoon Network in December of 2000. Along with ATHF, other three shows included The Brak Show, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, and Sealab 2021. ATHF is the only one that continues to air with new episodes to this day.
The title of the show is a decided misnomer: The characters have no major affiliation with water (though many episodes involve their neighbor's pool), they aren't teenagers (although their ages are never really established, it has been revealed that Meatwad isn't old enough to smoke or drink), and they are rarely shown as any kind of a force. "Hunger" seems to be the only word that has a bearing on the characters' lives.
In "Baffler Meal", their name comes from their mission to battle hunger in teens.
In seasons 1 and 2, the episodes cold-opened with a segment showing the Laboratory of Dr. Weird. He and his assistant Steve use the first several seconds to unveil monsters, disasters, and random silliness. Many of these episodes open with Dr. Weird saying his catchphrase "Gentlemen, behold" to Steve and, sometimes, their Hispanic janitor Javior, and nobody else. In season 1 episodes, the openings usually had something to do with the episodes. As it progressed, however, they just started becoming gags in the episodes, having no use at all.
In the third season, a segment called Spacecataz was used. Spacecataz was originally supposed to be a spin-off series featuring the Mooninites and the Plutonians playing gags and pranks at each other. Obviously, the creators, Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis could not get a plot, so the Spacecataz pilot is seen occuring throughout the third season. The full episode of the pilot is available on ATHF Volume Four DVD Box Set as a special feature.