I don’t watch much TV these days. I know I sound like a pretentious jerk for saying that, but there isn’t much out there that interests me. So when I watched “The Shivering Truth,” I knew I had to share it with you.
Imagine “Robot Chicken” written by William S. Burroughs and Salvador Dali and directed by Terry Gilliam. If you don’t get those references, think of your weirdest nightmare, full of meaning you don’t quite understand, all in stop motion animation. The six episodes are 12 minutes each, like a bizarro flash fiction collection in visual form.
Each episode is independent of the others, meaning you can watch them in any order. The episodes are either made up of a series of stories seguing together or a single story with multiple components brought together in the end. In each, the story flows between dreams, fantasies, and flashbacks.
While playing off Burroughs and other bizarre creators, “The Shivering Truth” abounds in fresh ideas. A boy scratches his arm until it grows into a church. A little girl plays peekaboo, rendering her invisible to her parents who panic in the most extreme ways.
It is humor expressed through surrealism, and surrealism expressed through humor, all presented in dark tones. This can best be seen in the episode “Constadeath”:
We see a patient with his doctor who informs him he has 34 seconds to live. Not only that, he will continue to die every few seconds afterwards. The only treatment is to pledge eternal devotion to a genetic hybrid of Hinduism and cheese. Desperate, he does so, only to find a different animal head on his shoulders every few seconds. It only grows weirder from there.
The show is not without its flaws. It mocks pretension even as its own content is pretentious. Some stories are better than others and some feel forced at times. Episode Six (“Fowl Flow”) faltered halfway through: it was so caught up in the story that it lost its spark.
The balance between the surreal and random is hard to maintain (“random” being the lazy attempt to sound weird and “surrealism” the creative expression of the unconscious). It is a narrow boundary and “The Shivering Truth” at times slips into the random. There it becomes a bunch of silly words and images thrown together for giggles. The strength of the show is that it focuses on the surreal.
If you are a fan of bizarro fiction or surrealism or just want some weird humor, this show is for you. The short episodes mean the whole series can be watched in less than an hour and a half.
You can find the entire series (for free!) here.