I recently had the pleasure of talking with young genius Saint Pepsi (also known as Ryan DeRobertis) — a man whose summer hit was a love letter to a Degrassi character — about Adult Swim’s weirdo action-comedy series Eagleheart. He loves Eagleheart very much, and thinks you will, too.
KELLY: Why did you want to talk about Eagleheart?
RYAN: Eagleheart is my favorite thing to have ever been on TV. I didn’t get into it until the second season, though. I remember the first time I saw it I was pulling an all-nighter before finals and Adult Swim was on in the background. The episode “Beazor” was on and there was this bit where they ran a fake Activia-esque infomercial in the middle of the episode, and then directly after that there was another infomercial with the same spokesperson who explains that the first one was her doppelganger.
KELLY: Haha, that is great.
RYAN: I go crazy for continuity breaks and things of that nature. So instantly I was like, “Okay this is ridiculous.” And then I got mono that summer and decided to watch all the episodes, and I never laughed so hard in my life. There’s so much visible influence from so many different genres of film and television, and you can tell the people who put it together live for that stuff.
KELLY: Yeah! I’ve really only ever seen a few episodes, but the Walker Texas Ranger influence is obviously pretty strong. It seems like a really joyous, insane celebration of that sort of cop show.
RYAN: Yeah, it’s funny because from what I’ve read, they pitched it as more of a direct homage. But once they got Chris Elliott involved (who is UNREAL as Chris Monsanto) they realized they wanted to do a lot more than just a straight-up cop parody, and so a lot of wacky elements come into play. There’s one where the marshals go to “Tinselwood” because all of these old movie stars are being killed, and all throughout the episode there are these cameos from old people who CLEARLY aren’t actual movie stars. But they have these lines like they’re referencing their movies, and it’s all so pitch perfect. Conan is in an episode, too, which is really funny. The more you go into the show the more they break the fourth wall, and even in the third season which is supposed to be more of a “fluid narrative” it’s really just anything goes.
KELLY: That sort of bizarre quality really makes it stand out from similar Adult Swim shows, I think. NTSF:SD:SUV is great, but it’s more of a straight parody. Childrens Hospital is more grounded.
RYAN: YEAH! I think that’s why I prefer it to NTSF or Childrens’ Hospital. Even though I’m a really big David Wain fan.
KELLY: He’s the best.
RYAN: With Eagleheart it actually feels like they’re pushing the limits — where Adult Swim was probably going, “Uh…this might be a little too much.” And because it’s so scatterbrained and laced with all these crazy references and homages, it didn’t land the audience that Childrens’ did, but I noticed online that people get fanatical about Eagleheart.
KELLY: Yeah, it definitely seems to have a very intense fanbase. Which makes sense — weird, incredible things that not a lot of people “get” tend to draw that sort of crowd. The people who aren’t alienated are brought together.
RYAN: Exactly! And Jason Woliner is the director too, he did Human Giant.
KELLY: Right, yeah!
RYAN: I think he’s one of the funniest people, honestly. I’ve listened to a ton of interviews with him because he’s really proud of Eagleheart and I obviously got very sucked into it, haha. But like, he was a child actor to an extent, I think he just did commercials and stuff, but it’s just cool to me that he’s been around that industry his whole life. And whereas Human Giant was more of a sketch kind of thing, Eagleheart seems like it was made to appeal to television buffs. Which I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m similarly fanatical when it comes to music so I really “feel the love” so to speak. I don’t think Adult Swim gave it much credit either, because everyone I showed it to at school fell in love with it, too.
KELLY: Yeah, I do think “weird comedy” is sort of made under the assumption that few people are going to be able to understand it and enjoy it. And where in some cases that is true, I think Eagleheart could easily translate to something liked by people who like normal things.
RYAN: I like Eagleheart’s portrayal of action shows, specifically in their villains, because they’re ridiculous and everything but still grounded. One episode the villain is the Scatman. It’s ridiculous in concept but they really know what to do with it, how the dude acts and how he’s dressed. They don’t half-ass anything in that show.
KELLY: Yeah, I really think that is the key. If there were any sort of hesitation or lack of full-heartedness it might fall flat.
RYAN: And so many shows do.
KELLY: Definitely. Do you have a favorite episode?
RYAN: I do! there’s one in the second season called “Bringing Down Bunju,” and it’s all about this guy who runs a dictatorship in Africa, but his life goal was to get everyone in the world to play this board game called Scribblers 8 he invented.
RYAN: He makes it a national pastime and his country falls to pieces, and he’s looked at as a bloodthirsty ruler but it’s the game that makes people crazy. I found out it’s based on an actual game called Scramblers 10, and that’s what made it so good to me.
KELLY: What is Scramblers 10?!
RYAN: It’s like the most obscure reference ever:
KELLY: Oh my god, this is incredible.
RYAN: This dude auditioned for an American Inventor game show and somebody on the Eagleheart team must have seen it and thought he’d make the perfect antagonist. But, as funny as the show gets, the last episode of the third season actually left me speechless, because it was clear that it was over. And it ruined me when that show ended, haha.
KELLY: Aw. :( R.I.P. Eagleheart. 2 good 2 live.
RYAN: Gone but not forgotten.