Super Recaps: Tom Goes to the Mayor (Zoo Trouble)

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Tom Goes to the Mayor and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros and Adult Swim

Created by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim

Welcome back to another episode of Tom Goes to the Mayor Nights!  While we may not have THE HOFF to lead us on this adventure, there’s still a wacky and frankly unbelievable mystery to be solved by our two hapless heroes!  The episode begins with Good ol’ Tom Peters actually doing something constructive for the city of Jefferton as he’s volunteering at the city zoo; doing tour guides for the undiscerning masses about the fabulous creatures on display!  There’s a squirrel… and that’s about it.  Oh, and for some reason they have a gorilla named Michael Davidson with a really fancy state of the art cage, but he doesn’t come out much so the tour guide moves to the visitors center which is basically a tube TV in a shack that everyone needs to crowd around.  You know, Zoos are already an ethical minefield (helping endangered species while also providing educational experiences is all well and good, but exploitation and mistreatment of animals is always at risk of happening) and Jefferton isn’t’ really making a good case for them when the darn thing is so underfunded that they can’t afford more than a few animals and have to rely on guys like Tom Peters to keep it running.  Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on where this will go), The Mayor was part of that recent tour and even HE has noticed just how awful this place is.  Seriously, as much of a monster as he can be, he’s usually VERY good at being diplomatic and propping up his city even when he’s corroding it from within, and het even HE can’t hold his tongue on this crap hole; and hey, if THAT’S not enough to convince you… TOM AGREES WITH HIM!  If the incarnation of Pure Evil as well as the most mealy-mouthed loser in the world can’t muster any enthusiasm, you KNOW this place is in trouble!

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“This place is a total dump.”     “Well you’re The Mayor.  Shouldn’t YOU do something about it?”     “Don’t you sass me, young man!”

The problems may not be simply budgetary however!  Just down the street, an eccentric business man known as Bernie Fusterillio (Brian Doyle-Murray) has opened his REAL LIVE ANIMAL EXPERIENCE, and they’ve been snatching away a lot of business from the city zoo.  That BASTARD!  Sure, his VR rig is more humane than keeping Jefferton’s wildlife in a concrete mud pit, but this private enterprise is crushing city funded leisure activity and turning people towards mindless for profit entertainment!  I’m sure Leslie Knope would be horrified!  Clearly this cannot stand, so The Mayor and Tom decide to go undercover to investigate just what’s going on at that REAL LIVE ANIMAL EXPERIENCE; and by undercover I mean they buy tickets and wait in line for an hour.  Tim & Eric spend most of the commentary talking about theme parks, and with the way Fusterillio’s ride is portrayed in here, I’d really like to see them do something (a show or a movie) about theme parks which hold a very interesting place within Tim & Eric’s unique brand of humor.  To me, Tim & Eric work best when they show the absurdities of middle class Americana and how much of the glitz and glamor we ascribe to it is entirely manufactured which robs it of its humanity.  A theme park, especially ones in the Disney mold, are an even more exaggerated extension of that idea where Americana is not just clichés about white picket fences and lyrics from Bruce Springsteen songs; it’s THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH.  With their particular eye for comedy, I could see the two of them making something as incendiary and biting as Escape from Tomorrow or Los Disneys; though I imagine their approach will have far less murder and plenty of poop jokes.

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Movie theaters are getting REALLY desperate to keep attendance up.

As it turns out, Capitalism has one yet again as the REAL LIVE ANIMAL EXPERIENCE absolutely crushes what the Jefferton Zoo can offer; but that’s not about to stop our heroes from trying!  Now that they know just how uphill the battle is, they’re ready to give it everything they’ve got to fix up that zoo and make it awesome again which frankly is probably the ONLY time that both Tom AND The Mayor were on the same page about doing something good!  This is especially jarring coming from The Mayor who is evil incarnate, but they do give Tom a much softer edge here than they usually do as his actions, while not the brightest or the most helpful, aren’t tainted with any sort of dire consequences like they usually are; unless of course you forgot that his attempt to save Bass Fest ended up flooding the entire town.  Speaking of his unhelpful actions, how does Tom manage to screw all this up?  Well after The Mayor makes some minor improvements to the place such as adding moving sidewalks and putting top hats on the animals, he tells Tom that he needs to stay on guard duty overnight so that nothing happens before the grand reopening of the zoo; lest all their work be in vein.  Tom tries his darnedest that night, I’ll give him that, but sadly he gets a baseball bat to the back of the head and wakes up inside the gorilla cage.  You remember him?  Michael Davidson?  Yeah, apparently he can talk now and informs Tom (over a game of chess naturally) that THE ANIMAL COUNCIL has decided that the animals of this zoo should be set free and that they chose Tom to be the one they deliver the message to.  Am I the only one who thinks this sounds WAY too much like that awful Kevin James film?

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“Look, it didn’t work out for us the first time around so we’re going with Plan B.”     “oh!  Wow!  I’m all the way up there at Plan B!”

Now if it was me, I’d attribute this to the concussion I surely got, but Tom takes the gorillas word at face value and goes to City Council the next day to make his case.  That case of course is that the animals chose him as their human ambassador and that the city must release the animals back into the wild under threat of THE ANIMAL COUNCIL.  Yeah, clearly that’s not gonna work out to well though City Council lets him down a lot more gently than I’d imagine they would, given what Tom is trying to convince them to do and why.  With no support from City Council and only emotional support from The Mayor who gives him a BIG hug (he’s REALLY nice in this episode!), Tom has to return to Michael Davidson with his tail between his legs to inform him of humanities latest slight against nature.  Michael doesn’t take it too well as he proceeds to beat the ever loving crap out of Tom, but something’s different.  The calm and collected Michael of before isn’t even talking to him!  He’s just acting like a regular gorilla now!  What’s going on?  Well that’s certainly the question on Tom’s mind as he wakes up in an emergency room, and here’s where this show being a mere eleven minutes becomes a bit of a detriment as they find an excuse to wrap things up VERY quickly.  Apparently some dude named Gene has access to security cameras all over Jefferton, and shows us Tom’s meeting with Micahel Davidson the night before because I guess there are cameras in that cave.  Upon closer inspection, Michael Davidson has a zipper on his back!  Why, he isn’t a gorilla at all but a man in a suit, and I’m guessing that man is Bob Burns III!  GOOGLE IT!!  So why is there a man in a gorilla suit trying to convince Tom to shut down the zoo?  Well if we go to camera number two, which apparently is INSIDE Fusterillio’s REAL LIVE ANIMAL EXPERIENCE, and we can see that on top of stealing all their business, Fusterillio was just plain stealing!  Something about how the ride shaking knocked people’s loose change out of their pockets and he’d collect it, I don’t know.  It’s all very Scooby-Doo which is the point, down to the Benny Hill inspired chase sequence with the man in the gorilla suit, but it comes way too fast and even for THIS show feels a bit unbelievable.

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“Someday I’m gonna get that filthy animal!”     “WHOA!  Rude!  I shower AT LEAST once a month!!”

Alright, well the two of them managed to chase the gorilla man back to the zoo and unmask him before the public to find that it’s… Fusterillio himself!  MAYOR SHOCK!  He basically thought (rather erroneously) that the improvements the zoo would sink his business and the scam he’s running within it, so he tried to convince Tom to shut it down so he can continue scraping pennies off the floor.  Well that’s what I call a job well done, right?  Yeah, of course not.  This wouldn’t be Tom Goes to the Mayor if there wasn’t at least one more out of nowhere bit of absurdism.  It’s actually a pretty good bit that continues with the Scooby-Doo style wackiness where Fusterillio has a zipper on his back that he pulls and reveals that he’s actually… THE MAYOR!  Apparently he enjoyed Fusterillio’s REAL LIVE ANIMAL EXPERIENCE so much that he COULDN’T let Tom’s wonderful zoo shut the place down.  Wait, didn’t The Mayor do all the improvements to the park himself?  Well before you can ask that question… ZIP!  Tom is revealed to be… Fusterillio!  Wait, we’re not done!  The Mayor zips yet again to reveal… JOY PETERS, and she’s confused about Tom ACTUALLY being Fusterillio.  Well she’s in luck because he’s NOT Fusterillio!  ZIP!!  No, it’s not Tom underneath; rather it’s The Mayor again which COULD be considered an improvement!  And so the episode ends on this rather odd note where the zoo is saved but now no one knows where the heck Tom is!

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“If you can put the Tom suit back on, we can make this work.”     “Well that is quite a tempting offer, young lady.”     “Don’t you sass me, New Tom!”

I was never the biggest fan of this episode because it just didn’t really leave much of an impact on me, but rewatching it for this series and putting it in the context of the rest of the series, it is a bit of fresh air and is a nice change of pace as we work our way through the second season.  It’s oddly positive and upbeat for a show that goes so far out of its way to paint the misery of everyday life to the point that the characters are ALMOST unrecognizable.  Seriously, this is like the ONE episode in the entire series that doesn’t paint The Mayor in any real antagonistic light or Tom as a fool who can only cause harm despite his best intentions.  To that end, this episode DOES feel a lot shallower and without much to say, but they make up for it with some really hilarious bits involving Michael Davidson, and even the ending is rather funny to watch play out even if it feels a bit rushed.  With such a change in direction that still manages to be rather funny, I’d honestly be interested to see what Tim & Eric could do with a kids show or at least something not so overtly cynical as this is, but then again it’s clear where their passions lie even if they want to take a break from it every now and again.  So yeah!  Maybe not the BEST episode, but it’s got a dude in a gorilla suit, and you can NEVER not laugh at a dude in a gorilla suit!

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The Recap Recap!!

Celebrities Galore

  • Brian Doyle-Murray is the eccentric business man Bernie Fusterillio who tries to stop Tom and The Mayor from restoring the Jefferton Zoo to its former glory!
  • Fred Tatasciore (the voice of Soldier: 76 in Overwath) plays Gene, the security cam guy who explains the plot at the end of the episode!

Here’s Bobby!

  • Bob Odenkirk very briefly shows up as the cashier at Fusterillio’s gift show, though you’d hardly even recognize him or his voice in this.

Tom Who Now?

  • Tom somehow manages to escape this adventure without someone misspelling his name! This episode really IS an outlier for the series!

Fun Facts from the Commentary!
(NOTE: Since Tim & Eric are… well Tim & Eric, anything said on the DVD commentaries should PROBABLY be taken with a grain of salt)

  • The idea for this episode started with Bob Odenkirk simply writing Zoo Trouble on a piece of paper and Tim & Eric built from that.
  • The original cut of the episode was even sillier than the final product. Adult Swim thought it was WAY too annoying.
  • Tim & Eric were actually getting tired of the Tom Goes to the Mayor formula by the time they got to this episode, so they intentionally wrote something very different from the rest of the series.
  • The second half of this commentary is an “argument” about Eric having a season pass to Universal Studios and whether or not he ever goes by himself.

The Bonus Screenshot

 

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“Don’t get too close now!  The lock on the cage is broken and we’re about forty percent sure they have rabies!”

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