Adventure Time is probably one of my favorite shows on television right now and also one of the smartest and well written. What appears on the surface, as a crudely drawn children’s cartoon to most folks under the skin is a post-apocalyptic fantasy with a lot of heart. Adventure Time is the story of Fin the human and his best friend Jake the magic dog that live together in a treehouse in the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo.
Fin is a chaotic good 14 year-old who was raised by Jake’s parents and has a penchant for swords, singing in auto-tune, video-games and adventuring. Jake’s magic ability is he can shape-shift in almost any object. Fin and Jake’s relationship has a really strange dynamic that is better understood when you know Jake’s character was based on Tripper Harrison, Bill Murray’s character in Meatballs.
While Fin is more the hero, Jake is the older brother and more the irresponsible comic relief sidekick of the duo.
The strange land of Ooo they live in is the result of “The Great Mushroom War”, where magic has come back into the world and its a lot like a fairy tale on acid. Fin and Jake basically spend the show running around and getting into various adventures protecting the Bubblegum kingdom, hence the title of the show. From battling demons in Hell or “The Nightosphere” as they call it, to stopping a zombie invasion this show has it all; even a genderswap episode based on fan fiction starring Fionna and her magic cat Cake.
The show is the creation of Pendleton Ward and began its life as a short aired on Nickelodeon’s animation series Random! Cartoons. The short became a viral hit and Nick passed on the series and it ended up on Cartoon Network where it has become a enormous hit for the channel. The show is part dungeons and dragons, part fantasy buddy cop movie and all win!
The folks over at Cartoon Network were nice enough to send me the first season on DVD which just got released (they are currently on season 3) and here are some of my thoughts on this great set. They have released episode compilations before, but this is the first time they are releasing them in the season format.
Season 1 ran from April 5, 2010 to September 27, 2010 and had 26 eleven-minute episodes. Season 1 essentially threw you in feet first and laid the groundwork for season 2 in which the show began to have more of a standard seasonal story arch complete with a big season finale. While they were definitely finding their groove this season, there definitely aren’t any clunkers episode-wise.
I loved season 1 and it definitely got me hooked on this show with some of my favorite episodes contained on the set being:
“Slumber Party Panic” an Adventure Time take on the Romero Classic Night of the Living Dead. So much fun and a great start to the show, they also do an homage of sorts of Freaks near the end of season 1. How many cartoons start off with a zombie episode?
“Trouble in Lumpy Space” A great thinly veiled analogy for going from prepubescent to teenager starring the always-awesome Lumpy Space Princess.
“Business Time” Fin and Jake find some businessmen frozen in a block of ice and put them to work building an adventure obstacle course.
“Wizard” Fin and Jake get magic powers and awesomeness ensues. Nothing more needs to be said for this episode.
“Memories of Boom Boom Mountain” We are given some background of how the duo of Fin and Jake came to be. More of an exposition episode, these are pretty rare but enlightening to the mythology of the show.
“My Two Favorite People” Jake feels overwhelmed at not having enough time for Finn and his girlfriend, Lady Rainicorn, so he tries to get them to hang out more, leading to disaster between the two friends. This is just a great episode, hands down.
“What Is Life?” A great mediation on artificial intelligence as Finn builds N.E.P.T.R., a Never-Ending Pie-Throwing Robot, to pull the ultimate prank on Jake. But the machine’s conscience is conflicted by the will of the Ice King who had a hand in bringing him to life. I love the Ice King and I think this episode shows you why he is such a great character.
Now to talk about bit about the presentation….
The packaging of the set definitely matches the imagination of the show and you can definitely see that in some of the photos I took of the set.
The first question I asked is why this is only on DVD? Probably because Adventure Time is a Kid’s show first and foremost and most younger kids don’t have Blu-ray players. But even though it is DVD this set definitely looks and sounds great and has low compression with the episodes spread over 2 discs.
While I would love to have a hi-def set in the future, because the show looks AMAZING in HD; this set will pacify most hard-core fans like myself.
With a few behind the scenes featurettes, animatics and commentaries for selected episodes this set definitely gives you a peek into the shows production. While they don’t go too far in depth and the commentaries while entertaining are often derailed, you can definitely tell these folks have a ton of fun making the show and it shows on screen.
Much like the show everything is light and fun, although I would have preferred a little more meat in the writing process. I had as much fun watching the shows with the commentaries off as I did on, which is rare.
Sadly missing is the first Adventure Time short…
If you looking to get into Adventure Time this is definitely a great set to pick up for both the hard core fan and the curious. This show has definitely started to break into the collective pop subconscious recently with the Alamo Drafthouse even doing an Adventure Time screening and Mondo doing an art show and poster series dedicated to the show.
Adventure Time season 1 can be purchased on Amazon. BUY IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!