Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp: Campers Arrive
August 1, 2015 8:01 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

June 24th, 1981 - 7:45 am. Camp Director Mitch attempts to exert control over his teenaged group of counselors. Andy arrives a week late to work and sets his sights on Katie. Coop is super-excited to see his girlfriend Donna again. Susie and Ben get started on their opening night musical theatre production. Victor and Neil make a bet.

June 23rd, 1981 - 10:47 pm.

Counselors party around the fire à la the opening credits of the movie, complete with Jefferson Starship's "Jane" as the backing track. Susie (Amy Poehler) and Ben (Bradley Cooper) are acting couple-y, while Girls' Head Counselor Beth (Janeane Garofalo) dodges a kiss in public from Camp Director Mitch (H. Jon Benjamin.) Boy's Head Counselor Greg (Jason Schwartzman) seems a little out of place amid such laid-back revelry, but he hides it well.

June 24th, 1981 - 7:45 am.

The underwear goes up the flagpole and the staff meeting begins. Mitch lays down the ground rules for the 16-or-17-year-old counselors, which mostly consists of not hooking up with the campers. Greg tells everyone that if he sees anything untoward he'll have to report it, so wink-wink-nudge-nudge just keep it out of his sight. Beth blows an airhorn at him, because as we can all agree, she's very funny.

Andy (Paul Rudd) arrives a week late, and Coop (Michael Showalter) super-casually drops that he is dating someone named "Donna," who isn't there yet. Victor (Ken Marino), who is just the coolest, announces a staff party at the Roundhouse that night. Neil (Jo Lo Truglio) asks everyone to be cool when his high school sweetheart "Shari" shows up at the party. Victor proves just how cool he can be with a joke Neil isn't quite hip enough to get.

Katie (Marguerite Moreau) is worried because she's supposed to meet her boyfriend Blake across the lake at the Camp Tiger Claw formal and would have to miss the party, as well as the opening night musical. Andy nails it when he calls the CTC crowd "prep school turkeys."

Over at Camp Tiger Claw, Blake (Josh Charles) watches the staff meeting through binoculars and manhandles his sidekicks when they talk about Katie slumming with the peasants of Camp Firewood despite her family's wealth.

The campers arrive, one of them in a bitchin' Delorean. A kid with a voice strikingly similar to Samm Levine's deboards the bus looking for the Campus Radio Facility he was promised. McKinley (Michael Ian Black) tries to assist him. Andy talks to J.J. (Zak Orth), improvising some beautiful words about Katie and then showing off how sincerely nonchalant he is about her.

New Camper Kevin (David Bloom) gets off the bus looking forlorn, but Coop intercepts sees a fellow romantic soul and takes him under his wing. Kevin goes to put his bag down and immediately locks eyes with fellow camper Amy (Hailey Sole.)

Mitch discusses his sexual escapades with Beth in a way both graphic and yet totally appropriate for being around a bunch of children. As he leaves, Coop comes up to Beth and admits that everyone knows about her and Mitch, just like everyone obviously knows about him and Donna. Beth believes that Coop is dating Donna, which is good, because Coop can confirm that.

8:34 am
Susie and Ben flop around stage as Raggedy Ann and Andy in a musical number that would make any teenager want to join them. Susie and Ben explain their roles to the crowd, and then finally answer the question on literally everybody's lips: are they still dating. "A thousand times yes," thank god. Ben briefly turns into a Southern Gentleman before the dynamic duo explains the evening's show, Electro City.

They then introduce special guest director Claude Dumet (John Slattery) who was a chorus member in the original touring production of Electro City and also has an Actors Equity card. He wins the crowd over with some fantastic mask work.

Victor and Neil sign campers in while Victor proposes a bet over who has sex first. Well, he explains, whether Neil loses his virginity first or Victor gets laid for the millionth time first. As someone who has had ex before, he just wanted to make the semantics clearer. They agree to the bet, Little Darlings-style.

Kevin meets his bunkmates Kyle, Ralphie, and especially Drew, who might be the single best thing in the show. They goad Kevin into playing some ill-defined game involving throwing a tennis ball, which Kevin apparently fails at. Accordingly, they should insults at Kevin until he runs away. Coop shows up just in time to admonish Drew, but in Drew's defense, he likes doing stuff like that.

Coop chases Kevin down, eventually, and the two have a quick discussion the upshot of which is that Kevin needs to challenge Drew to a burp fight. McKinley shows Arty, "The Beekeper" Solomon to his new radio station digs.

Donna (Lake Bell) finally arrives, and she and Coop have a lot to talk about. She musses up his hair and gives him a bangin' Puca shell necklace, and he calls her his "girlfriend" in a way that needs no confirmation on her part. Still, it's all just so much and she needs to decompress.

Kevin throws the gauntlet down for Drew, "the fuckin' burp king of Westchester," and it's on. Three rounds, no mercy. Drew wins all three rounds handily, but Kevin might have picked up some respect points for bravery anyway. Any does some rockin' pushups for Katie, and even the CTC minions can respect his form, though Blake has other concerns. Coop talks to Kevin, who's decided to stick around a while longer.

Greg walks in on a panicked phone conversation Mitch is having about how much it costs to run a camp. Despite breaking things in impotent rage, Mitch explains that it's just about the volleyball salesman busting his balls with seasonal pricing. Mitch sends Greg on his way and goes back to eating from his can of vegetables.

After a quick montage reminding us where everyone is, we close on a shot of two men in HAZMAT suits pouring barrels of bright green sludge onto an unseen part of the campgrounds.

posted by Navelgazer (18 comments total)
This episode was a slow burn. Chuckle worthy in places, but I felt underwhelmed. Though John Slattery's entry was fucking fantastic. As was his outfit. Paul Rudd's entrance wasn't half bad, now that I'm thinking about it.

I also failed to realize it was a prequel, which probably did not help at all. If you're on the fence, subsequent episodes pick up. I've only binged on three so far, but this is the weakest of the bunch.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:03 AM on August 1, 2015

Nice write-up!

I agree with clever name, it didn't race out of the gate, so to say. I think the theater group was the strongest of this episode.
We are all so happy you are here. But if you do want to stay here, you're gonna have to use a little bit of this. A little bit of this. And a whole lot of this.

That's right, that's your diaphragm. And that's gonna allow you to project your voice in the theater!
And of course ...
Electro-City is the story of a young man who moves from the country to the city to become a Broadway star and is immediately sent to the electric chair for a crime he did not commit.
[all gasp]
Or did he?
[all] Oh.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:04 AM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

From what I've heard, they only had Bradley Cooper for a single day of shooting, and we're very clever with how they used it.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:12 AM on August 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

Jon Benjamin eating the can of mixed vegetables.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:34 AM on August 1, 2015 [8 favorites]

I am 100% okay with use of more of the cast of Mad Men.
posted by Dr. Zira at 1:32 PM on August 1, 2015

The guy who plays Harry Crane: Tiger Claw is becoming dangerously close to being a character actor.
posted by codacorolla at 1:33 PM on August 1, 2015

I love The State and all these people, but I can't watch this as a comedy. It's the Island of Misfit Sketch Ideas.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:37 PM on August 1, 2015

I'm guessing the radio station isn't broadcasting and no one's actually listening to that dude's show?
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 3:27 PM on August 1, 2015

At some point in the middle of the movie, they show "The Beekeeper" doing his thing and tilt down to show that nothing is plugged into anything, yeah.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:08 PM on August 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

It picks up considerably at episode three, the first one is the weakest - I was iffy on it but totally full in by three
posted by The Whelk at 5:16 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

The Whelk is right, people! (Also, obvs I'll be getting these in every day for the following remaining week of Wet Hot American Summukah.)
posted by Navelgazer at 5:30 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I love the extreme dichotomy between the people who aged a lot since the movie came out and those who didn't.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:13 PM on August 1, 2015 [11 favorites]

Paul Rudd x2
Amy Poehler
Elizabeth Banks
Chris Meloni
Michael Ian Black
Bradley Cooper
Ken Marino
Joe Lo Truglio

Michael Showalter, gallantly taking on the aging duties of several co-stars (though this seems to get better as the day goes on?
Janeane Garofalo, though not in a bad way, for sure.
H. Jon Benjamin, who was only a voice in the movie, but we know. Oh, we know.
David Hyde Pierce, but he only looks more distinguished, and not all that much more distinguished, really.
Marisa Ryan, but in a blessed way that only makes her look more like Rashida Jones.
Zak Orth

And then there's the strange case of Marguerite Moreau, who somehow looks exactly like she looked in the movie and yet cannot possibly pass as anything less than 35 anymore.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:32 PM on August 1, 2015 [7 favorites]

I'm glad to hear it improves, because the first ten minutes were abysmal. I might just skip ahead to episode 3.
posted by kanewai at 2:31 AM on August 2, 2015

I loved everything about this. Expectations were low based on comments here, but I thought it was pretty hilarious, and i agree with those who say it gets better.
posted by isthmus at 11:31 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Watching the first episode immediately after the movie was both pleasant and slightly distracting and a lot of it was Michael Showalter's appearance. It wasn't his weight gain, but his wig, which just didn't seem to resemble the one from the movie, despite the extensive work put into recreating Camp Firewood. I dismiss the weight as saying he'll just lose it over the summer.

A lot of the first episode is fascinating in immediately constructing what is going to happen in this season versus what will happen between it and the movie. We know what's going by Point C, but what will happen by Point B?

Sometime in the next couple months, already a couple of characters we've been introduced to will have to disappear. Hrm. HOW?! I look forward to finding out.

It definitely was a slow burn opening, I think kind of riding on just introducing all the characters (and giving everyone time to go, "OH LOOK AT THEM NOW! HEY! NO CHANGE! GET THE VAMPIRE KILLING KIT!".

I appreciated the setup of the rival preppy camp.

I was surprised by the focus on one of the campers. In the movie, campers were never really the focus of attention unless they were accompanied by one of the counselors or older stars of the film.
posted by Atreides at 8:03 AM on August 3, 2015

I was surprised by the heavy focus on the campers in the first twoish episodes , esp since it was being played fairly straight -- they get less and less screen as it goes on however.
posted by The Whelk at 8:20 AM on August 3, 2015

Add to the NOT AGEDx2 list:

A.D. Miles, who plays Gary (who works in the kitchen).
posted by mochapickle at 6:29 PM on August 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

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