Season five of Workaholics has, intentionally or not, sort of been about Adam, Ders and Blake evolving and becoming at least slightly more mature. In these few episodes, they’re learned the downsides of getting black-out drunk and throwing crazy ragers, they’ve shown themselves to be far more tolerant than might’ve been expected and they’ve opened up their friendships to talking about something more than just their favorite porn websites. Yet “Gramps DeMamp Is Dead” is a step back from that character evolution, for good and for bad.
As the title infers, Anders and Blake join Adam at his grandfather’s funeral. While DeMamp family gatherings are usually off the chain, what with cousins who work at Medieval Times and the promises of relatives with “whistle tits,” the funeral is a surprisingly somber event. Apparently the DeMamp clan has turned their lives around, thanks to Adam’s grandfather’s new wife Annette, who wasted his grandfather’s savings on a very successful pizza franchise. There will be no drinking, no unfurling of corkscrew penises, no knighting and no whistle tits. Even though Adam attempts to get his family all riled up, it’s going to take a higher power to change this family: Adam’s father—played by Jack Black—keg in one arm, ready to blast some Offspring and mosh.
Adam’s dad sets out on a plan to steal Gramps DeMamp’s body and cremate—or crenate—the body and drop it from the sky, paratrooper style. Unfortunately absolutely nobody else wants this plan, causing the entire DeMamp clan to set out against Adam and his father and their dumb idea.
What makes this episode slightly disappointing isn’t that the guys are reverting back to an earlier mindset than they have this season. It’s in the writing. The combination of Jack Black and Adam Devine—who has basically been doing a Jack Black impression his entire career—should be fantastic, but instead there’s not enough laughs in this uniting of comedy styles. Their plot together comes off as incredibly strange rather than funny and especially morbid, considering that they’re trying to cremate their relative in pizza ovens.
However the strength and laughs in this episode comes from Anders and Blake. Anders utilizes the body theft to his own advantage, telling Annette he will give her the location of the body for unlimited pizza. His frustration over the failings in their agreement and his constant attempts at a lifetime supply of pizza in such an odd environment work pretty well. Meanwhile Blake focuses less on the body he’s sort of helped steal and tries to get Adam’s cousin who played the Blue Knight at Medieval Times to go back to his medieval ways. His dedication to helping this man to a less successful job for the sake of getting himself knighted a fast-food knight is also incredibly weird, but in that sweet way that Blake specializes in.
However it is fun to see these guys less about becoming better people and more about a crazy adventure and free pizza after a string of character development episodes. Hopefully Jack Black can come back again, since this is basically a perfect casting choice, and the writing can be a bit more in his favor. And maybe not so focused on him stealing his father’s body to burn.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.