Series / Too Many Cooks

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"It takes a lot to make a stew,
A pinch of salt and laughter too,
A scoop of kids to add the spice,
A dash of love to make it nice
And you've got too many cooks (too many cooks), too many cooks (too many cooks), too many cooks..."

Too Many Cooks is a 2014 short film written and directed by Casper Kelly, edited by Paul Painter, and distributed by [adult swim]. It was broadcast on [adult swim] at 4 a.m. each morning from October 31st to November 6th, then posted on their YouTube channel (where it quickly went viral). The short is an Affectionate Parody of 80s sitcom openings that introduces the loving Cook family — one by one by one by one by one by one by one by one by one by one by one by one by one...

What starts out as a mostly straight spoof of family shows progresses to spoofing police shows, hospital shows, action shows, and so on. Then things get even weirder, into a Mind Screw unlike the family sitcom it seemed to be. See the whole short HERE, all eleven mind-scrambling minutes of it.


Too Many Tropes! (Too Many Tropes!)

  • Action Girl:
    • Captain Jen Simmer, briefly seen on an alien planet gun-toting while a space battle rages overhead.
    • Policewoman Laura Cook has her ECM be taking out a crook with a thrown baton.
    • Subverted with Melinda Cook; see Faux Action Girl.
  • Affectionate Parody: There's parodies of everything from sitcoms like Full House to cop dramas like Hill Street Blues and Law & Order to G.I. Joe and Battlestar Galactica to slasher films. And it's pretty clear amidst the insanity that the creators enjoyed it.
  • Alien Geometry: The camera makes two full continuous rotations around the dinner table with different people each time.
  • All There in the Script: While the short only shows the actors playing the various Cooks, the rapid end credits reveal most if not all characters' in-universe names (listed on the IMDB cast page). The Killer is even given the name "Bill".
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Matthew Kody Foster as "Coat". And probably Lars von Trier as "Pie" too.
  • Anyone Can Die: Throw a serial killer in the mix, and this trope comes into play.
  • Art Shift: The opening goes animated at one point, as a clear parody of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.
  • Aside Glance: Everyone. This is in fact a symptom of Intronitis, which forces the person to smile at the camera, whether they want to or not.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Gwydion Lashlee-Walton as Armondo Del Cook.
    • Let's be honest, "Beast Rebels of the Hellscape" is an amazing name for an evil army.
  • Bad Boss: Archer Cook, who yells at T.L. and hands him a ton of paperwork to do by himself. Aimee gives him some mild comeuppance by putting a box on his head.
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: And switch, and switch, and switch, and switch... Once it gets to the actual show, it's managed to switch back to the original family sitcom setting, but with characters from the other settings still existing.
  • BGM Override: The sitcom theme music overrides whatever is playing when the killer shows up and is how Intronitis presents itself in newly infected victims.
  • Big Bad: The Killer depending on your interpretation of things.
  • Big Brother Bully: Jim Cook is introduced holding Warren O'Cook in a headlock and giving him a noogie.
  • Big Red Button: At the climax Smarf crawls to one in hopes of it fixing things. It's unclear whether or not he managed to press it before he died.
  • Bloody Hilarious: As the Killer's rampage begins.
  • Body Horror: Humans are made at one point to lie at chest level in front of anthropomorphic credit-people, as credits would.
  • Brick Joke: The roundtable portion of the intro starts by reintroducing Clarie, Harry, Veronica, and Chloe before introducing some new Cooks. When the camera reaches the second lap, we find four new Cooks in place of the old ones — Linda, Louise, Jebediah, and Laura.
  • Broken Record: "Too many cooks! (Too many coooooks.) Too many cooks! (Too many coooooks.)" It usually goes for about a minute before a break, at which point it'll repeat something else we heard already before looping for another minute.
  • Call-Back: As the show gets more messed up, previous scenes (the two couples' polyamory, boss getting a box on the head, pillow fight, a paint roller to the face) replay, but now with the characters from different genre segments acting them out.
  • Cast Herd: The various families, the cooks, T.L.'s office, Laura's mates on the force, C.O.O.K., the college girls, the C.O.O.K.S, etc., etc....
  • Character as Himself: Smarf.
  • Chef of Iron: One of the Cook soldiers in the animated G.I. Joe-like segment appears to be a literal cook, complete with chef hat.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Puppet cat Smarf, who destroys the Killer with his laser-beam eyes and tries to hit the red button to save the show.
    • Subverted with Melinda and Chris Cook. They turn out to be superheroes, but end up being completely useless.
  • The Couch: It takes center stage in most scenes, appropriate for the genre that is parodied.
  • Creator Cameo: Paul Painter's name appears during the G.I. Joe spoof. He plays the Token Non-Human.
  • Credits Gag: Hundreds of credits fly up the screen in the last few seconds of the short. Many of them are for characters with the last name "Cook".
  • Crowded Cast Shot: Darren's final attempt at a family photo.
  • Da Chief: Sgt. Cook is introduced yelling and pounding his fist on his desk. The scene is revisited later on, with Chloe suddenly replacing him and acting like him as everything goes out of control.
  • Dark Reprise: During the scene where the Killer is eating, the lyrics are a lot darker.
    Song: *distorted and garbled* It takes a lot to make a stew. When it's made of me and you. Him and her, and the baby too.
    • A darker version of the song also plays when Smarf tries to press the button in the kitchen while he's bleeding to death.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Veronica and Grammy Cook are shown reading a magazine titled "Magazine" with a picture of magazines on the cover of it. What magazines? Magazine magazine, of course. And those on the cover have the exact same picture of Magazine magazines on them as well.
  • Disney Death: The Killer is seemingly laser-beamed dead by Smarf, but he returns as the evil B.R.o.t.H. forces in the sci-fi sections and makes one last cameo at the end.
  • Dom Com: What the "original" show was supposed to be. The short parodies many cliches and conventions of the genre.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Meanings of "too many cooks" include:
    • The initial, rather large family named "Cook," and the second, and the various other families named variants of "Cook."
    • An apparent Cast Herd of literal professional cooks.
    • The possible judgmental reactions to the quadrilateral relationship of first two Cook families.
    • The G.I. Joe like organization "C.O.O.K."
    • The spacefaring "C.O.O.K.S."note  in an eternal war with "B.R.o.t.H."note 
    • The rapid and bizarre shifts in tone being the consequence of an overlarge production staff, as in the phrase "Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup".
    • It's also possible the killer simply thinks there are too many cooks, and is 'solving' the 'problem'.
    • There's also one iteration of the "stew" metaphor becoming far more literal, with the killer eating various characters - "when it comes to me and you" becomes "when it's made of me and you" in this iteration of the theme.
  • DreamWorks Face: Grammy Cook makes this face at the camera.
  • Drop-In Character: Several, it appears - Melinda is introduced with Darren's family, but not seen in group shots, and Armondo Del Cook is an obvious Fonzie expy.
  • Dying Dream: One interpretation of the scenes post-Smarf crawling to the button.
  • Eagleland: The G.I. Joe parody.
    Some people say it'll spoil the broth, but that's not the American way!
    Too Many Cooks will serve a helping of freedom against the forces of evil!
  • Eats Babies: Not actually shown, but the once-innocuous lyrics about baby too, etc., overlap with the killer eating various body parts at the dinner table.
  • Electronic Speech Impediment: As things get thoroughly out-of-control, the music eventually gets messed up as well, particularly during the killer's Hostile Show Takeover and the part with the credits and actors switching places, in which multiple copies of the theme layer over each other cacophonously.
  • Ending Fatigue: Played for Laughs. Twice in the first five minutes there's a freeze frame that looks like the end of the song, but it's just a cruel twist of the knife. Later happens in-universe to... well, everyone, but Smarf especially as he weakly crawls across the floor, bleeding out his last in a last attempt to press the Reset Button.
  • Escalating Punchline: The joke continues to grow more absurd as the opening progresses.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Everyone gets a brief two second clip to smile at the camera and do something trait related, like bake cookies or hold up lab flasks. Everyone.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Barbara Bruce's character is credited as simply "Grammy Cook."
  • The End... Or Is It?: The last group shot implies the Killer is still alive.
  • Eye Beams: One of Smarf's powers, which he uses to defeat the killer.
  • Faceship: In the sci-fi segment, the Killer has one with his whole head forming the bow. It can shoot lasers from its mouth.
  • Fair Cop: Laura Cook.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: There are a couple points where it looks like the song and video are about to end (in particular the first two family photo sequences) only for it to keep going.
  • Fan Disservice: The Killer redoes the scene of Marilyn/Victoria putting on a show for Chris, with himself in both roles.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Dr. Bennett Hamilton Cooke certainly thinks that contracting Intronitis is this.
    Doctor: Kill me. Kill me!
  • Faux Action Girl: Despite turning out to be a superhero, Melinda Cook does nothing but spin pointlessly and get killed.
  • Final Girl: Samantha Cook turns from a sitcom college girl to this role, but the Killer finds her anyway.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The Killer appears at the 20 second mark, and continues to show up hidden in the background despite the fact that everyone else who has appeared only did so after being introduced.
    • Kind of last minute, but the lyrics during the G.I. Joe parody mentions resisting the forces of evil. Cue The Killer appearing in the foreground immediately afterwards.
    • While the Killer is chasing one of his victims backstage, credits show up on every person the two pass by. This not only leads to the victim's demise, but also gives a big hint towards the credits' true nature.
    • A few characters can be seen during the backstage chase before the intro has properly introduced them yet, such as the robot from the Space Opera sequence.
    • Why is The Killer carefully inspecting those spices behind the cooks? Because he's planning a very special meal...
    • Nearly everybody smiles before their credits show up. They still smile even if they are about to be killed, which makes their smiles seem quite forced.
    • Josh Lowder's criminal character is screaming in rage, but abruptly gives a warm smile when his credit comes up. This is an early indicator that the smiles aren't necessarily willing.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Dozens, including some plot important ones:
    • The Killer is hiding in the background as early as 20 seconds in the short. All his background appearances are pictured in this link. At one point he even disguises himself as a painting.
    • The lightning-speed end credits, which name most of the live-action characters.
    • Magazine: The Magazine, that also counts as Droste Image.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The war between Cybernetic Operational Optimized Knights of Science and the Beast Rebels of the Hellscape.
  • Garnishing the Story: The Youtube video, of all things, does this. The normally black, bolded title under the video is now the yellow and black italic text used for the characters names.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: Appears to be the effect of "intronitis", considering the doctor's awkward growing smile.
  • Glasses Pull: Melinda Cook pulls off her glasses before supersuiting up... even though she wasn't wearing glasses at all before this scene. Chris Cook, who at least had been established to wear glasses, also does this before his turn to transform.
  • Genre-Busting/Genre Roulette: Both in a fictional and meta-fictional sense.
    • The show starts out as a Growing Pains-esque parody sitcom, then includes some elements of office comedy, moves on to a police show, an animated G.I. Joe spoof, a rich elite show, and just when you think it's done shifting it goes sci-fi Space Opera.
    • The show keeps going with its parodies of openings even as the Killer starts offing actors, until it turns into a unnerving slasher story as Samantha Cook tries to flee the Killer. After that it's a Black Comedy with tons of blood, then a surreal horror story as the show distorts and mutates.
    • As the show falls apart the disparate genres start blending together. Finally, Smarf's reset of the show results in combining all the characters into being part of the family sitcom cast, making it a massive ensemble sci-fi drama police office family comedy.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Samantha's death. The Killer finds her, she screams, cut to blood splatter. In fact, most of the Killer's early victims die offscreen, but as things get darker and his rampage escalates the murders start being witnessed, with a lot of blood involved.
    • Subverted in one instance. As the detective is murdered, the camera cuts to a blood splatter. Then it immediately cuts back to the victim screaming with an axe in his head.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: Marilyn McCook is first seen, while changing, holding up a top in a way that hides her breasts from the camera. After she catches Chris Cook spying on her, she starts using just her arm, and is seen doing the same in a different circumstance. The killer later mimics this.
  • Heroic Build: The first shot of Melinda is her showing off her bod for the camera, while Savannah looks on annoyed.
  • Hope Spot: Each time it seems like someone's figuring out what's going on and about to solve things, the Killer pops in to finish them off.
  • Hostile Show Takeover:
    • Multiple copies of the Killer start re-enacting scenes from earlier in the video.
    • When everything goes to hell in the end, various characters randomly start changing roles and recreating shots from early in the video, leading to space aliens having a pillow fight and the chief of police suddenly getting replaced with one of the teenaged girls.
    • Toward the end, anthropomorphic credit-people apparently usurp their roles from the actors, forcing the actors to appear in front of them as their credits, although it's hard to tell if they did so intentionally or it's just a mistake.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Killer cooks and eats his victims.
  • Interface Screw: The Killer's opening credit is deliberately scrambled and obscured by VHS artifacts.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Killer, who invades the show, starts killing off actors, and hijacks it to be his.
  • Laugh Track: One starts playing as the Killer hijacks the show.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Often, but especially in Samantha's death, where the Killer tries to strike during a freeze-frame, but she runs through the set, the actors in-character still frozen, ultimately alerting the Killer to her location by the glow of her credits.
  • Leitmotif: The theme music changes genres to match the changed settings, but maintains the melody most of the time. Creepily enough, the theme song becomes the Killer's leitmotif as he chases Samantha. Note how it gets louder as he gets closer, almost as though he's creating it...
  • Limited Wardrobe: Almost everyone, in true cheesy sitcom fashion. The Killer too, although he switches to a tennis outfit at one point.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Hoo boy.
  • Machete Mayhem: The Killer's favored weapon. Even every Beast Rebel of the Hellscape has one.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: You betcha.
  • Medium Awareness: The Killer, most definitely. He knows that his victims are helpless during their credits, and even makes fun of the format himself later on.
  • Me's a Crowd: The evil forces of B.R.o.t.H. turn out to be an army of clones of the Killer.
  • Mercy Kill: The doctor overlooking Ken/Darren begs his assistant to kill him as he catches Intronitis and starts posing with his own name like all the other actors.
  • Mind Screw: This short was played at four in the morning just to get anyone who stumbled on this even more confused.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The first genre shift to a cop show parody.
    • The Killer beginning his rampage.
    • Too Many C.O.O.K.S. the Space Opera.
    • The abrupt end credits.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Jebediah comes to a family dinner in a stripper's firefighter costume.
  • Ms. Fanservice
    • Melinda Cook, introduced posing in a revealing tank top and later in a busty red supersuit.
    • Marilyn McCook, who's topless in all her appearances, even around other people.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Beast Rebels of the Hellscape, who appear to be partly composed of dozens of clones of the Killer.
  • No Ending: By the time the show actually starts, we only see about 10 seconds of it before we're hit with a To Be Continued and the credits.
  • No Name Given: The serial killer, the only character whose name is unknown due to the VHS artifacting covering it up whenever his credit appears. No name in the credits, either, where he's only credited as "and featuring William Tokarsky.".
  • Offscreen Teleportation: The Killer can come from anywhere.
  • Off the Rails: When Samantha flees during a freeze-frame. A pity that her freedom didn't last for long.
  • Opening Narration: One plays over the sci-fi opening.
    Narrator: This is the story of COOKS ó Cybernetic Operational Optimized Knights of Science ó defending humanity against Beast Rebels of the Hellscape. When it comes to the future, you can never have too many COOKS.
  • Outside-Genre Foe: Of all the sitcom genres this show is, the Killer comes from one not usually seen on TV: horror.
  • Overly Long Gag: The whole point of the short. As well as the repetition of slight permutations on the theme, Melinda's superhero transformation has her spinning in place for a full twenty seconds of silence, and between the G.I. Joe parody and Athena Cook's introduction, there's a quadruple loop of an Establishing Shot of a mansion followed by a shot of a falcon turning to the camera.
  • The Peeping Tom:
    • Chris Cook as a guy spying on Marilyn McCook half-naked.
    • The Killer peeps in on himself in a dark parody of the previous scene.
    • The end credits have a brief shot of a repeat of Marilyn being peeped on, this time by T.L.
  • Polyamory: Darren and Claire appear to be in a relationship with T.L. and Sasha. The former two are seen nuzzling together, as the latter two join them. Without skipping a beat Darren and Claire turn to kiss the other couple.
  • Post-Modernism: A great many television genres and character archetypes throughout the 80s and 90s are spoofed, even if only for a few seconds each, and forcibly combined by the end. The cast credits for each character are eventually revealed as a symptom of "Intronitis", which is running rampant throughout the universe of this short.
  • Pun-Based Title: Too Many Cooks refers to how almost every character's last name is "Cook", though the writers are banking on the viewer being familiar with 80's sitcom logic in order to get the pun (or if you can read three hundred actor credits in about five seconds).
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: As Ken/Darren lays sick in a hospital, he says: "That's a fine how-do-you-do, laugh track..."
  • Red Shirt: According to Word of God, The Killer's Start of Darkness was that he was a background character who wanted to be the main sitcom dad. He went postal because he couldn't live his dream.
  • Reset Button Ending: The world is brought back to (very, very relative) normality by Smarf, at the point of death, pressing a button in the kitchen.
  • Retool: One reason as to why the series adds on more characters and changed genres.
  • Retraux: Keeping with the 80s-90s setting, it bears signs of VHS degradation. The slasher film segment has film scratches and dust.
  • Robotic Reveal: Smarf is shown to be animatronic as opposed to a Muppet-like character after he destroys the machete killer, but is later shown bleeding heavily with its fur back on.
  • Round Table Shot: One that keeps going around, with different people each time...
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: The Too Many C.O.O.K.S. sci-fi segment.
  • Rule of Three: The gag of Darren trying and failing to beat a camera timer to the couch is done three times. The third time, he makes it but is replaced in the photo by the killer.
  • Running Gag: The dad of the Cook family setting up a family photo, but never getting in the right pose for the camera before the picture is taken. On the last time, though, he makes it only for the Killer to take his place.
  • Slasher Smile: Who better than an actual slasher?
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Marilyn McCook reacts to Chris spying on her changing by setting down her top and giving him a show; later she ends up playing Pictionary with the Cooks without getting dressed.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The family segment of the show is based on ones like Full House (where the font for the title logo came from), Family Ties, Growing Pains, Family Matters, etc.
      • The sequence of a family sitting around the table as the camera pans around showing all of them is a direct parody of Roseanne's opening.
    • The kitchen and living room scenes are lifted directly from Married... with Children.
    • Smarf is a clear parody of ALF and Snarf.
    • The pie in the cop show segment is credited as Lars von Trier.
    • The supersuit scene homages both Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, using a pastiche of the former's theme song.
    • The sci-fi segment looks a whole lot like a mix of Star Trek: The Original Series and Battlestar Galactica (1978). Plus, it has a clone army.
    • The melodrama segment looks similar to ones from Dynasty, Dallas, and Falcon Crestnote .
    • The Killer looks a lot like Jack Torrance in The Shining, especially his sudden appearance in a group photo at the end. He has long hair and a blue jacket like Bob, as well as an ordinary name ("Bill"), and he uses a machete like Jason Voorhees. Word of God says his patterned sweater is an homage to The Cosby Show, but in the context of a slasher movie it's also reminiscent of Freddy Krueger.
    • Smarf's robot body underneath his fur resembles that of The Terminator.
    • There's even a homage to Manimal of all things shortly before the Reset Button Ending.
    • The Reset Button Ending has the whole cast arranged like The Brady Bunch's opening.
      • Darren Cook appears to be an architect, like Mike Brady.
    • The opening shot of the "show" is a shout-out to the outside-the-house transition shots from The Brak Show (right down to using the same music).
    • There's a section during the Killer's rampage that parodies Law & Order, particularly with similar music.
    • The cop section is heavily influenced by T.J. Hooker, with the "taking a perp down by throwing a baton" scene directly lifted from it.
      • During the killer's spree, there's an extended shot of a cop searching for the killer, while the BGM makes a direct reference to the themesong of Hill Street Blues.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The upbeat sitcom theme keeps playing as the Killer slaughters his way through the cast. It keeps on playing as things get steadily worse, culminating in the show completely falling apart.
  • Spooky Painting: As Athena Cook is murdered by the Killer, a painting behind her shows a familiar figure...
  • Spotting the Thread: Samantha hides in a closet to escape the Killer, but he figures out where she is when he sees her actor Katie Adkins's floating name shining through the closet blinds.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • Nearly everyone infected with Intronitis smiles to the camera against their will.
    • Samantha's smile starts looking really forced as she realizes the Killer is behind her.
  • Stylistic Suck: The short nails the grainy low-budget look of a 80s show on a VHS, as well as the later sci-fi segment. Those seemingly model ships on strings? CGI.
    Casper Kelly: Yes, we used state-of-the-art graphics to simulate shitty spaceship sets and spaceships on strings.
  • To Be Continued: How the show abruptly ends.
  • Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup: The short is reportedly a spoof of the tendency for American sitcoms to be burdened with far more writers and producers than are necessary as production moves on, eventually resulting in them losing sight of what their original vision was.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Subverted when Chris Cook attempts to turn into a superhero, only for the killer to decapitate him during the crossfade between forms, resulting in Will Dove's name being displayed over two transparent, headless Chrises.
  • Unreadably Fast Text: The closing credits.
  • Up to Eleven: Where the short takes the concept of television Opening Credits.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The Killer is a cannibalistic slasher inside of a goofy family sitcom.
  • Visual Pun:
    • The Too Many Cooks title becomes literal at one point, with several kitchen cooks being introduced in succession.
    • Stealth Pun: Marilyn McCook draws a large rooster and peas on the board in the charades game. Given that she's topless, itís probably intentional.
  • Wham Line: "This is the worst case of Intronitis I've ever seen. And the thing is, we have no idea how contagious this strain is."
  • Wham Shot:
    • The G.I. Joe parody has the Killer stop hiding and move into the foreground.
    • The last shot of the opening, with the Killer appearing in Dad Cook's place.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • Samantha Cook seems Genre Savvy, figuring out she's in a slasher story. Unfortunately for her, it's also a surreal dark parody of an 80's sitcom, and she still has a title credit...
    • The same could go for Melinda and Chris, and Det. W.J. Cookowski. All think they're there to stop the murders, then are quickly slain.
  • Your Makeup Is Running: Samantha Cook's mascara gets runny as she hides in a closet from the Killer.

Honey, I'm ho—
To Be Continued...

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/TooManyCooks