Review: WTF 101 “Abandoned Military Ops”

Turns out that WC Fields was right, “Never work with children or animals.”

Overview (Spoilers Below)

This week, Brad can’t take another second in detention. He hurls a chair at the window, to try and create an escape route, but the chair bounces back and hits him in the face. It’s universally agreed that his escape plan was stupid, but Professor Foxtrot tells him that he’s got terrible planning in common with some of the United States’ best-funded military R&D specialists.

The good professor then takes the class on a tour of three of America’s very stupidest military boondoggles that (luckily) never came to fruition. The first is a bat bomb, which is literally what it sounds like. A scientist strapped little bombs to a thousand bats, put them to sleep, and put them in a larger bomb to drop on the city. When the bomb went off, the bats would disperse throughout the target area and each explode. Unfortunately, the bats didn’t always wake up at the right times and would bomb unintended targets, such as the testing facility.

Next, they tour a stink bomb factory that would be used against the Japanese. This one would have actually happened, but (luckily?) the bombing of Hiroshima put an end to the project. The final project is one where a cat was going to be used as a cold war spy, but that failed because cats don’t want to be held, let alone trained. Additionally, the first test subject was killed by a car. Professor Foxtrot takes the class back to the detention room and then fires lasers at them in hopes they learn things.

Our Take

I’m always happy to be proven wrong by one of the shows I’m reviewing. Last week, I declared that WTF 101 didn’t seem to have any idea where it was going, and this week it entered some reasonably uncharted territory. While the show does still seem to only vacillate between scary nature and irrelevant science, disgraceful military operations were pretty clever territory to stake claim to, and not a move that I would have predicted.

Where the show is still lacking, is in its bite. I don’t want to continue to compare the show to its older brother Adam Ruins Everything, but this episode was done a pretty distinct disservice by not having an agenda. This was an episode about the military industrial complex, and its over-reliance on pie in the sky solutions for simple problems. There was not a mention of either a) the ideology behind this make-work project or b) the fact that it’s still going on to this day. Yes, all of these operation ideas are beyond dumb, but cherry-picking examples from before the internet age isn’t nearly as apolitical as the show thinks it is. The absence of critique is deafening.

I’ve found this to be true across the board as I’ve perused the DropoutTV catalog. While mainline CollegeHumor seems to have a more liberal bent, more centrist and conservative content is hidden behind the paywall, almost as if the network knows to be a little ashamed of it. Some of this comes from CollegeHumor alumni such as Jake & Amir and Josh Ruben who hail from a less woke period for the site, but it exists among the new cast’s content as well.

It wasn’t necessary, however, to fault “Abandoned Military Ops” on political grounds. The triad of scenarios this week suffered from the same shortfalls that are typical to the show thus far. Without fail, the scenarios are slightly too similar. This time it was two different bombs and two different animals in three examples. While animals are unquestionably funny, there is no shortage of better bomb projects, it felt a little lazy for the scenarios to have this much in common. No super-soldier stuff? No weird handguns? I mean the CIA psy-ops stuff is definitely worth a mention.

I think that this is just what WTF 101 might be. The science will be stupid, the nature will be nasty, and that will mostly be the end of it. The characters are mouthpieces to get us to the action, and Professor Foxtrot will be Mrs. Frizzle by way of Rick Sanchez. It’s ten minutes long on an internet-only streaming service. Budgets can’t be huge, and the animation is really good considering that. I guess I’m just unimpressed. I know that Adam Ruins Everything has way more in the way of budgets, but I remember when that was just a CollegeHumor short. I remember liking it much more than I do WTF 101. I have no doubt he’s trying to carve his own niche for himself, but it just seems as if Mike Trapp is no Adam Conover.

Score
5/10

Zach

Cartoon Philosopher

Zach has 127 posts and counting. See all posts by Zach