Too Many Cooks (2014) — In Smarf we trust

“Too many cooks! (too many cooks!)”

Justin’s rating: Never going to get that song out of my head. Least I can do is spread it to yours.

Justin’s review: Let me set the scene. It’s Halloween season 2014, and cable channel Adult Swim decided that it wanted to pull the ultimate prank on its viewers. So at 4:00 in the morning, it aired a seemingly innocuous sitcom called “Too Many Cooks.” Tired and groggy viewers took in the cheesy ’80s-style theme song as possibly a show they’d never heard of before or a retro-styled homage.

But this is when writer/director Casper Kelly started messing with their minds. Because, you see, Too Many Cooks’ theme song… didn’t end. At least not for 11 minutes. As the theme song went round and round on an endless loop, the characters smiling constantly at the camera started to act a bit off. Then a serial killer named Bill began stalking the many (many) cast members before knocking them off, one by one. Then the elongated title sequence — which was still making people smile and slapping up credits — morphed into other genres before eventually devolving into an absurdist head trip.

By the end of it, first-time viewers probably felt like they had gone insane. By the end of the first week, Too Many Cooks became legendary.

It was weird and upsetting, yes, but it was also starkly brilliant. To make an 11-minute title sequence in the style of several different shows while binding them together with running plot threads, main characters, and numerous homages to famous sitcoms and other TV shows of past generations had to be fiendishly tricky. Probably the most tricky part was to create a song that was at once catchy, cheesy, and awful.

Just ask everyone who’s seen this if they can sing it. Of course they can, and they’ll hate that you reminded them of it (just like I’m doing now).

Above the shock and humor value, there is a lot of clever subversion and sitcom trope poking with these intros. I mean, who hasn’t found it oddly strange for characters in old sitcoms to just stop, turn to the camera, and give a daffy grin during those opening titles? And what if those titles followed you around and proved to be a beacon for killers tracking you down?

It’s also a whole lot of fun for some of us older pop culture addicts to identify and name the different genres and specific TV shows that Too Many Cooks references. There’s Full House, Battlestar Galactica, He-Man, G.I. Joe, TJ Hooker, Growing Pains, Step by Step, Family Matters, Dallas, Wonder Woman, Law and Order, medical shows (like, all of them), Seinfeld, and the Brady Bunch.

And perhaps you’re just here for the out-of-nowhere jokes, such as a guy playing “Coat,” a half-naked fireman who shows up at the dinner table, the girl frantically running through the sets, and the amazingness that is Smarf. Truly, Smarf is our first, last, and best defense against the Bills of the world.

I rewatched this for the first time in a few years and found it just as hilarious, brilliant, and disturbing as it was back in 2014. The only thing I could conclude is…

…you can never have too many cooks.

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