WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER: TEN YEARS LATER | TV REVIEW | RELEASE DATE AUGUST 4th 2017
No one would have believed the 2001 cult-hit film Wet Hot American Summer would have both a prequel season of television and a follow-up season afterwards. Perhaps, after watching Ten Years Later, the follow-up shouldn’t have happened. Whilst the new episodes retain the silly and outlandish jokes, it sometimes feels like it diminishes the magic that was recaptured in First Day of Camp.
For fans of the original film and the prequel First Day of Camp, Camp Firewood and its fantastic cast is a welcome return. The characters haven’t lost their charm, despite supposedly being in their “early twenties”, and the show proves that no joke is too ridiculous. In all fairness, Ten Years Later proves to still be a great over-the-top comedy, it just didn’t feel as necessary as First Day of Camp did.
All your favourite characters return, although Ben who was originally played by Bradley Cooper is recast as Adam Scott. In typical Wet Hot American Summer fashion, this is brushed off as just a nose job, and not much is thought of it afterwards. The chemistry between characters also still clearly work; Andy’s first instinct when returning is to “fuck Katie”, Katie is more interested in revisiting her relationship with Coop, whilst McKinley and Ben are cautious of their new babysitter.
Noticeably, the first four episodes felt more fresh and unique than the final four episodes. At first it was encouraging to see all these characters interact again. Much of the humour worked really well in most scenes and the various different sub-plots made sense within the ten-year gap since 1981.
However the second half of the season did seem to tread on familiar grounds, and it seemed apparent how this was more of a fan-service of the movie and prequel, than an original plot. It felt somewhat forced when bringing in familiar faces later on, and the whole “camp needs saving” plot is something we really didn’t need to revisit again.
In fact, the storylines involving former President Ronald Regan and “Current” President George Bush (which they do force to remind us quite a lot) felt like the weaker moments of the season. The humour in these scenes is perhaps too extravagant and obvious – which is a weird criticism for Wet Hot American Summer – hence it didn’t feel as engaging. Unfortunately this makes up for most of the final episodes and the Ten Years Later climax.
In the end, this obviously isn’t a show to take too seriously. Bare in mind, this is the same show where a can of vegetables can pass off as a person, have sex with waitresses and hitchhike. So even the weaker laughs are forgivable by the various hilarious moments.
As a whole, Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later is still a funny show and great for its fans, however it just doesn’t feel it needed to exist. There are less effective jokes in this season than there were in the film or in First Day of Camp, yet that doesn’t mean Ten Years Later isn’t worth investing your time in. The season works as a great nostalgic trip and is a fantastic few hours of comedy.