so, what even is a Moral Oral?
Moral Orel is a claymation cartoon that aired on Adult Swim from 2005 to 2008. It's about innocent 12 year old Orel Puppington who is a devoted christian and obsessed with the religon. He lives in Moralton, a town of hypocritical christians who's advice he often misinterprets, which ends in him causing chaos around the town. It ran for three seasons, although it was planned for five but was cancelled. It has a 2012 half hour special called Beforel Orel, which gives an insight to how Orel ended up the way he is in the show.
The main characters are Orel Puppington, our god loving protaganist, his abusive alchoholic father Clay Puppington who is constantly complaining about his 'dead end job,' Shapey, Orel's menace of a little brother who can barely talk, constantly plays with dangerous objects, and still gets breastfed despite being seven, Orel's mother Bloberta Puppington, who's obsessed with cleaning and neglects caring for both her children, and lastly Reverend Putty, the priest of the town's church who longs for love despite being a man of god. There are also other important characters like Danielle Stopframe/Coach Stopframe who is in love with Clay and is willing to do drastic and terrible things for him, Ms. Censordoll, the librarian obsessed with, you guessed it, censorship, and Ms. Sculptham, Orel's teacher. There are still plenty of other characters but who serve lesser roles.
Starting off where it all began, season one is the most lighthearted season. It starts the show off as a episodic dark comedy. Every episode, Orel goes to the local church with his family and hears a sermon from Reverend Putty, the preist. He misinterprets it and does something outrageous with the motive of doing what god (or in some cases, his father) wants from him. These can range from raising the dead on the basis of making sure they respect god's gift of life, drinking his own urine as to not put it to waste, or becoming an alchohol addict as a way of becoming more 'adult.' In the end, he ends up getting beat by his father who then lectures him, telling him why what he did was bad but for the very wrong reasons.
Overall, a pretty funny dark humored comedy. I quite enjoy the first season, Most of it aged suprisingly well and is just plain hilarious. (most of it.) My favorite episode from it is Charity, where Orel gets a job to learn the importance of money, but ends up giving what he earns to someone who he believes to be a homeless man. The man gives him crack and he becomes an addict, doing anything to get money for more of it. At the end, his father tells him to not do drugs because they are a gateway to slang. Absolutely comical.
This season sort of acts as a transition from season one to season three. It is still mostly episodic but does contain bits and build up to the events that happen in season three. The comedic episodes here usually contain something hinting that the show is evantually going to take a more dramatic turn. Equally as enjoyable as the first season, some characters start to get more fleshed out as their problems are shown on screen.
Now, there are three episodes that i feel are important to the rest of the show. Gods Prayer, and Nature parts one and two. In god's prayer, Orel's stepbrother, Shapey, gets replaced with another family's child, Block. They stay switched for the rest of season two, showing how neglectful his parents are of him. In nature part one and two, Clay gets drunk and has a drunken meltout in front of Orel, resulting in him accidentally shooting Orel in the leg, leaving him crippled for life. This episode is also the cataclyst and key part of the timeline for season three. The abuse and neglect of Orel's parents is starting to be taken seriously in this season, even if its just in the background of less serious episodes.
Here is where the show goes full on soap opera. This season's timeline is not completely in order and jumps from a little whiles before and after certain episodes, most notably nature. It also doesn't focus on Orel 100% of the time and gives the people of Moralton their own episodes that focus on their personal issues and trauma. This season contains the episode that got the show cancelled, 'Alone.' Alone depicts the inner life of Nurse Bendy, Ms. Censordoll, and Ms. Sculptham, showing that Nurse Bendy and Ms. Sculptham were sexually assaulted and cope with their trauma in different ways, and that Ms. Censordoll is infertile because of her mother sterlizing her as a baby.
In the episodes that are based after the Nature saga, Orel starts to lose faith in his father as he realizes the kind of person he is. His belief is sealed in the last episode, Honor, where even Coach Stopframe, the man who is in love with him can't even find anything redeeming about him. This season also features the backstory of Orel's parents and showing why they got married and what their childhood was like. they both have trauma but don't bother sorting it out, leaving them willfully stranded in a loveless relationship rotting together because thats whats expected of them. It's revealed that Clay was also beaten by his father who hated him for accidentally putting his mother into cardiac arrest and killing her. At the end of the season, its shown that Orel grows up has his own family with his childhood sweetheart, Christina. (who is introduced in season two.) He grows up to be a good man and ending the cycle of abuse from father to son.
There is a lot more to be said about the third season but my hands hurt, ill probably write more about it in the future. (which is good reason for you to come back here sometimes *wink*)
Beforal Orel is a 22 minute special made in 2012. It is about Orel as a younger child and shows how he became a dedicated christian. The special is based when Orel is four years old and Shapey is about to be born. Orel is shown to be very playful and curious of the world around him, and he is also very trusting of everyone around him which leads for his friends to take advantage of him. They tell him that when he falls off of a high place he won't get hurt (and even when he does get hurt they just tell them he isn't.) and that hes cold when hes hot, so that he will overheat under many layers of clothes, laughing at him and calling him dumb. Clay takes Orel to stay with with his father, now old and lives by himself on a farm. He teaches Orel to ask questions about the world and form his own opinions after learning about Orel's dangerous faith in people. They bond together over the the time spent with eachother. Orel did not know about god at this point, but when Orel gets back, the people of the town use scare tatics to make him become christian by telling him he will go to hell if he isn't, and Clay tells Orel that his grandfather is evil and should not be trusted.
When Orel learns about the story of Isaac and Abarham, he wants to replicate it with his at the time newborn brother Shapey to prove that god is real. Basically, he was going to try to kill him but hoped that god would intervene and stop him. He wrote to his grandfather about his plan, which caused him panic so he drove to Moralton to stop him. He did successfully which kindled Orel's belief in god and solidified him as a christian.
This special shows the contrast between Clay and his father, Clay and the rest of Moralton tell Orel to not ask questions and scare him into believing what they want him to believe without properly explaining it all to him. Orel's grandfather on the other hand explains things to Orel, corrects his wrong ideas, and answers his questions no matter how ridiculous they might seem. Even though Orel's grandfather was horrible to Clay when he was a child, he at least showed growth in age and didn't seem to resent Clay as much as he did in the past. When Clay quickly drives away after dropping and picking Orel up, his father doesn't feel hatred to it but more of just 'thats how it is.' And he treated Orel better than Clay did for the entire show, who just spanked him whenever he did wrong and didn't put any real effort into making him understand besides citing relgious reasons.
Orel's trust in other people is also very consistent to him in the show, as he believes everything his father and the adults around him tell him, even if he misinterprets their advice in his head. He believes adults always know what they are talking about and so their words must be right every single time, especially if it is in line with what God would want. That naivity starts to wither in season three after the events of Nature.
How Adult Swim Screwed It All Over
First of all, when Moral Orel was first made, Adult Swim made the TERRIBLE descision of airing the LAST EPISODE of the season BEFORE ANY OF THE OTHER EPISODES. The reason? It was a Christmas episode and it was around Christmas time that the show was going to air, and they wanted the episode to be a part of the holiday line up for that year. Already bad but it makes it worse that that episode is completely different from the rest of the first season and requires the context of watching the episodes before it for it to make any sense and convey what its trying to get across. That terrible decision already turned some people off from the show, but there was still hope. Season two and the rest of season one aired with no other big issues, until came season three.
Adult swim felt that the show was getting 'too depressing' for its viewers and pulled the plug after seeing the events in the episode 'Alone.'
In the last two seasons, it was planned to develop these characters into 'the most realistic people on televison,' as Dino said. Orel's grandfather/Clay's dad was going to discover he has a terminal illness and move in with them, living his last days in Orel's room. He would die and Orel would then truly begin to comprehend death, in an episode fittingly called Death. He would also leave his home to Orel instead of Clay, which would have made Clay spiteful and angry about it. During this, Clay's father would try to reconcile with him but Clay would turn him down. Other things that were planned was Bloberta running away with the town's police officer, Shapey and Block growing up, Orel maturing into a proper person, Ms. Sculptham developing stockholm syndrome for her assaultant, and Orel evantually staying in Moralton with Christina to try to make it a better place.
In 2012, they offered the creator of the show, Dino Stamatopoulos, another chance to bring the show back in some form. Thats where he pitched the pilot for a prequel series, 'Beforal Orel' but it was rejected and adult swim decided to air the pilot as a half hour special. The series has seen radio silence since, with all the people working on it moving on to greener pastures.
Where do we go from here?
I personally believe it is possible that Moral Orel could make a comeback in the future. In the past couple years, it has suddenly recieved a lot of attention online and people begging for it to come back. Plus nostalgia is all the rage nowadays, almost any old thing is being brought back or remade from tv shows to video games to fashion styles. Moral Orel could probably appeal to that trend.
The only issue with a comeback I see is that it seems most of the puppets are no longer in the hands of the creators. One of the Orel puppets is being used by a crew member for an instagram account, Orel Travels, where they take him around the world with them and talk on the account in character as him. (its really cute) The account also seems to own Clay's puppet and the puppington house. Quite a few have been sold off on eBay, Reverend Putty is with an anime figure collector, (yeah, believe it or not.) and there are lots of rumors surrounding where the other puppets are. I've heard that they have been burned, given away, are molding in storage, and that Dino Stamatopoulos still has them. So its beyond me what happened to the rest of them.
Either way if there was a reboot, they would probably have to remake a lot of the puppets. But I still have hope. A Clone High reboot is in the making, a cartoon that wasn't very popular for it's time and is now over a decade old, and thats hope enough for the possibility of a Moral Orel reboot for me. And Dino still seems open to returning to the show in the future, even mentioning a movie if possible.
Overall, Moral Orel is an important show about generational abuse, christian fundementalism, and people. Even though it didn't get the ending it was meant to have, it still was able to get it's point across. I read somewhere in a youtube comment section that Moral Orel didn't change the world but that it changed people, which is arguably more important. Its a good way to put it.
Bonus Content! (these are all external links.)
Abstinence. A home production of one of the scripts for an episode that didn't quite make it into season three put together by some dedicated Moral Orel staff. It was lost media for quite a bit until David Tuber, it's director, uploaded it to youtube.
Narcissim. A script for a scrapped episode from season three. It's about Reverend Putty wanting Florence back after rejecting her during their hookup.
Raped. A script for a scrapped episode that would have taken place during the second half of season three. It's about Ms. Sculptham going to visit her assaultant in prison, wishing to marry him after finding out shes pregnant.
Promos. A collection of promos made a little while after Beforal Orel. The third one with Orel pretending to be a thirty year old man always makes me laugh.
Reverend Putty Sermons. Extra shorts of Reverend putty doing some humorous sermons. These are not featured in the show.
Beforal Orel Frankenhole Special announcment. A bumper that served as the announcement for a future special, the one we now know as Beforal Orel. It is a crossover between the show and Mary Shelley's Frankenhole, another stop motion adult swim cartoon that was also created by Dino and cancelled for similar reasons.
Behind The Scenes. A short look at how Moral Orel episodes are made and where the ideas came from. Filmed when the second season was in progress. Super wholesome.
Moral Orel Frankenhole Sell Out Show. Concept for a Moral Orel and Mary Shelley's Frankenhole crossover show by Dino. It would have been more comedic and composed of mostly short sketches. It was turned down by adult swim. I can find almost little to no information about this so I'm not sure of it's authenticity.
The Music Of Moral Orel. SUPER huge album featuring basically every single tiny bit of music in the show. I have no clue where this came from or if its even offical but it features extra parts and versions of songs that aren't in the show so i assume it is.
Bloberta Single Ladies Dance. Do I have to explain?
Danielle is the most evil character in the whole series.
Although what he did for Orel in the last episode was very good, for the rest of the show he has been nothing but terrible just so he can get with Clay. he got Bloberta pregnant and didn't care about it or the kid, just so he could worm his way into the Puppington family, he almost sacrafices Orel to a cult,and he is generally shown to not care about anyone else besides Clay. Clay is already a pretty cruel character but at least he cares a LITTLE for Orel and doesn't hurt others with malicous intent in the same way Danielle does.
Orel's grandfather/Clay's father is a very morally grey character.
Hitting Clay and constantly guilt tripping him for his mother's death was terrible but it could be argued it wasn't done out of true malice. He believed he deserved it as he was the cause of her demise. He already felt ignored by his wife since Clay was taking up all her attention, which probably made him feel at least a little bit negative towards his son. And as they both got older, that hate faded and he tried to better with Orel as much as he could. He is 100% a bad person through and through but there is some good there that makes it hard to classify him as one or the other. People thinking either way really depends on their opinion of Clay and what he did to his mother.
Does Clay really love Orel?
Personally I believe, yes. I have heard some people theorize that he doesn't and even that it was planned for him to shoot Orel during the hunting trip all along, but i have to disagree. In fact, next to Danielle I think Orel was one of the people he cared for the most, despite his terrible parenting to him.
Clay was raised by his father to believe that being hit was a sign of being 'worth it.' In fact, he would try to provoke his father just to get him to hit him and prove in his mind that he is worth something to him. He seems to apply this to Orel to and it's implied he taught him the same as well. In turn the other cheek, Clay refuses to lecture or beat Orel since he doesn't want to admit he was wrong with the advice he gave him, and Orel think that means that Clay is giving up on him. So i believe that his beatings are not out of a hatred of him. Even when Orel was thought to be dead but comes back, Clay seems happy that he is alive, if only for a second. His love to Orel is definitely not the kind a father should be feeling towards his son, but it is love. But I do not believe that its the kind where he would be too distraught if Orel ended up dying in grounded or nature.
Orel is autistic 100%. watch that kid in action and tell me he isn't, you can't. its likely that he would be undiagnosed since i cant imagine moralton being the type of place to even have somewhere to get a diagnosis in the first place. (or even knowing the first thing about autism)
season 1 dvd pictures coming soon!