Sockbaby is a four-part series that was cancelled by the Channel 101 audience after two episodes but was continued in other venues. The series is directed by Douglas TenNapel, the man best known for works such as Earthworm Jim and The Neverhood; and John Soares, who is best known for co-founding the independent film group WestHavenBrook.
The film lampoons kung-fu movies, and directly parodies pop-culture icons like Dragon Ball Z. All of the martial arts were done by the actors themselves, and were directed by Soares.
In addition to the numerous martial arts sequences, the film also features a cartoon sequence in part two and a partial CGI sequence in part three.
The film centers on a character named Ronnie Cordova, a funky martial artist and (possibly) 70's-style detective in a slick leisure suit, played by Soares. The plot mostly involves his quest to get a bite to eat that's thwarted consistently as he must protect a Sockbaby from an evil group of Greys ("demonic men in suits," to quote the official site).
Channel 101.com Summary
Even though its pilot just barely beat Computerman 6 for the fifth slot in January 2004, Auteur Doug TeNnapel's first Channel 101 series will forever go down in history as one of our most infectious. Brutally simple, richly stylized and driven by the hands-down best zero budget screen combat ever seen, Sockbaby began competing with Kicked in the Nuts downloads in record time and was on every 101 fan's mind and tongue for the entire month. Astonishingly, although its second episode delivered all you might expect and more, the live audience decided they had had their fill and Sockbaby entered the hamper, amidst good company, at the February 2004 screening.
As Ronnie, Burger and the Sockbaby leave their house to go someplace to food up, they are confronted by Davis the Grey, who wants to take Sockbaby to Lord Opticord, leader of the Greys. Davis informs Ronnie that this Sockbaby is "the Sockbaby Jesus, Sock-savior to the Sock-people". While Burger escapes with the Sockbaby, Davis and Ronnie fight each other, with Davis running off as he is defeated, and notified that, in the opinion of Ronnie Cordova, he and his brethren are "gay".
At its Channel 101 screening on Sunday, January 25th 2004, it received an audience share of 45.5% and was 5th top voted show with 129 votes.
While Ronnie and Burger try to get their car started - Ronnie left the radio running, thus draining the battery - Lord Opticord dispatches more Greys to kill Ronnie and retrieve Sockbaby, including the ultra-powerful and poorly wardrobed club-wielding, two ton Chum-Chum. Ronnie once again manages to fight off a majority of the Greys, this time using even more spectacular fighting moves than before (utilizing a plasma pill), but he is eventually knocked down by the Chum-Chum.
At its Channel 101 screening on Monday, March 1st 2004, it received an Audience share of 39.7% and was 7th top voted show with 105 votes, leading to its cancellation.
Burger dispatches an odd-looking creature to kill Chum-Chum, and Ronnie rises again to defeat the remaining Greys, excluding Davis. Directly afterward he steps in a pile of dog feces, which he wipes from his shoe with a sock, tossing the sock on the ground. He then kills Davis for good, but discovers that Davis has killed Burger. Lord Opticord then confronts Ronnie directly. Opticord and Ronnie fight each other, during which Ronnie's funky disco medallion ties itself around both Ronnie's and Opticord's necks, putting both of them in an electric choke hold. While they are being choked, Opticord reveals to Ronnie what Opticord thought was the Sockbaby in his possession, but is actually Ronnie's discarded sock. Both Ronnie and Opticord then fall to the ground, dead. An alligator robot then arrives, resurrecting Ronnie and leaving with the Sockbaby. Ronnie then finds that Burger has been revived as well, and together they leave to find some food.
The film begins with Ronnie being attacked at his backyard pool by divers in scuba gear. He defeats a number, and is then attacked by the divers' leaders (Jon Heder and Dan Heder), who drag him into the pool. The divers say they killed Ronnie's master; Ronnie replies it was only his master's clone. The divers nearly drown Ronnie, at which point he is saved by Doug Jones (played by himself).
Doug Jones explains that he is Ronnie's father, whereupon Burger appears and claims that this cannot be true, as he says Ronnie's father is black. Ronnie says that the situation is a lot to process, and asks Burger to let him deal with it.
Burger heads to a laboratory to perform a DNA comparison, while Ronnie and Doug stay at the pool to catch up. Doug poisons Ronnie as Burger discovers that the DNA does not match. Ronnie asks Doug why he would do this, and it is explained that Ronnie's father killed Doug's son Guillermo. Doug throws Ronnie into the pool and an animated sequence showing Ronnie's anthropomorphized lungs drowning is shown.
Burger arrives at the pool and defeats Doug, who asks his Guillermo for forgiveness as he dies. Burger performs CPR on Ronnie, who hallucinates that he is in heaven, and sees his mother before being resuscitated. Ronnie awakes and asks Burger whether they are gay for having engaged in CPR. He then laughs pulls a chewing gum out of his mouth and puts it in Burger's.
A The End screen is displayed, followed by a scene wherein Ronnie's father, Master Cordova (who turns out to be black), is approached by an agent who says they have found his son. The Master says "Hello, Ronnie," and the credits roll.
Doug TenNapel says; "Vernacular is a big part of the Sockbaby series...the way they talk is part of the "why" of the show. Burger is a mechanical guy, they fight in their homes in normal suburbia instead off on top of skyscrapers.
"If they make black jokes, like the music is "funk", the whole thing has a 70s blacksploitation vibe, then Ronnie has black in his DNA. We had a question about him being black by a nice girl and I didn't get a chance to expand about my philosophy of the Sockbaby universe. So I'll do it here.
"If they call each other gay, then two men will have to put mouths together in order to save Ronnie's life.
"Food is a high commodity, which is why they frame their day in terms of where to eat. To "food up" is a sign of close friendship. Notice when Ronnie goes to heaven he's surrounded by cakes. He just wants to eat with his mother, but is interrupted. I think if he took a bite and supped with his mom he couldn't go back to earth.
"Family, especially fathers and sons are in all of my work (and every hero's journey) but the Heders provided a great twist. Jon and Dan are duplicate Frogmen yet they are twin brothers in real life. But when talk to Ronnie underwater they talk about killing Ronnie's father, notice how these twin frogmen fall under the Sockbaby universe and project themselves into the plot. They didn't kill Ronnie's father, they killed his clone, or his "Manitou".
"Magic doorknobs" around how beings can port through different parts of the world. Frogmen come up in the pool, Optichord goes to earth and Burger goes to his underground labs. The door magically closes behind Ronnie and Burger behind them, as if the Magic is on their side.
"Finally, the whole idea of SOCKBABY is the title. I called it "Sockbaby" then engineered a story out of the word. It had the name "sock" because it's a kung fu movie. The Baby is not just the Christ story of this universe...it's a fun word that was part of our past slang vocabulary. The titles in all of my stuff tells a story. So you have a Sockbaby-Jesus lording over a universe about fighting and odd-slang sayings.
"I like to use the phrase "economy of elements" where I try to tie props and dialogue down to the plot by reinforcing it wherever I can. It looks like random humor but I don't like most random humor so I tie mine down a little more."
Elsewhere he says, "I mentioned this in a previous post, but the term "Sockbaby" is a term for the world as well as the Holy Grail in the first 3 episodes.
"I didn't really go into this in episode 1 but I've always seen Ronnie as a kind of "non-believer" and Burger being devout about Sockbaby. That's why when Burger dies in ep 3 Ronnie has to commit to the care of SB that was normally Burger's conviction.
"Burger is the only being who really believed in Sockbaby...the creature wouldn't have shown up for anyone else. So Burger is suddenly in the care of this "baby Jesus" and Ronnie wants to get some food. The baby says, "INCHERITO" because their food talk is already influencing this being.
"When all of the Greys come down on our heroes, Burger wants to protect Sockbaby, but Ronnie just wants a good fight. Burger hates with conviction for a positive cause but Ronnie is just a rebel against the negative cause. When Ronnie cares for SB after Burger's death, he is transformed into the kind of man who is for the positive cause. That's why Optichord, the Devil, starts tempting Ronnie by trying to cast doubt on his "salvation".
"At the end, the Angel which we call "Sharkie" takes SB back to heaven. This is kind of vague in my mind, but I think SB accidentally came to earth. I kind of thought that there is a sock-God and the sock-son-of-God was in the dryer with the other socks and went missing...like all socks in the dryer. He came to Ronnie's universe and he came for what was actually a great purpose, to turn Ronnie's heart and to kill Optichord."