DVD REVIEW: ADVENTURE TIME, SEASONS 1 AND 2
With the voices of: Jeremy Shada, John DiMaggio, Hynden Walch, Pendleton Ward, Tom Kenny, Dee Bradley Baker, Maria Bamford, Olivia Olson
Adventure Time is one of those properties that taps right into what its audience is looking for at just the right time. Though there is undoubtedly an adult crossover - and certainly a college student following – Adventure Time nails what I would surmise is its target: children and adolescents.
At first glance, Adventure Time looks like doodles that kids scrawl in the margins of their notebook paper. To leave it at that does a tremendous disservice to the talented work behind the show, however. If you listen to the commentaries (and season two has one for every episode), it becomes apparent that these are artists capable of the simple and the complex, and that they are expanding upon the concept of the show’s creator, Pendleton Ward. Every writer, or at least the ones on the commentaries is a storyboard artist as well. Their work is subject to lots of changes. The show moves at a rapid pace with storylines twisting like freeways at rush hour. None of this is by accident or haphazard, even though the series seems like the kind of make believe that you hear when two or more kids are mixing up their action figures and making up wild adventures in their living room rugs.
For the uninitiated, Finn is an adolescent who fashions himself a warrior hero and often finds himself doing just that, but not usually the way he intends to. His best friend is Jake, a magical stretchy dog with the earthy savvy that comes with the voice of John DiMaggio. The stories are largely fantasies, but they weave in quite a bit of relationship issues, especially between sexes and fantasy species. Other stories are more sitcom-like, in which what we know about the characters drives the plot and the twists.
Even though Adventure Time is the product of today’s voice of kid’s TV, the fascination with monsters and witches always attracts kids, from Universal horror movies in the '50s to The Munsters, Dark Shadows and The Addams Family in the '60s, all the way up to the previously-reviewed Beetlejuice. Each covers similar ground but are rooted in different times with different sensibilities.
Its mad stream of consciousness storytelling should delight fans of The Goon Show and Monty Python; the show is a satire of sorts but is mostly free of pop culture references and will likely be cherished by today’s kids when they grow up – then they’ll have to explain it to their kids just as we do with our favorites ("I tell you, this was a really popular thing when I was your age!" "Oh, really, Daddy?")
Yet despite its "wee-wee" humor and imitation curse words, there is a mad morality to many of the stories; some are downright warmhearted. Say what you will about Adventure Time, but its characters have more depth than many found in prime time (also now a haven for wee-wee).
The first season DVD set contains a few behind the scenes segments and commentaries on select episodes emphasizing Ward and several voice cast members. These commentaries are done in a studio and while they have a party atmosphere, they are more conventional than those in the season two DVD.
Season two has a feature in which Ward and eight members of his staff watch something on an office monitor that we do not see and they react to it, sometimes in disgust, embarrassment, knowing nods, laughter, etc. The way they were able to add a commentary to every episode was to bring Ward and some of his team into his bedroom where they watched a literal marathon. Ward strums and hums to fill in the gaps. But what emerges is a lot of insight into their creative process, how they are diverse even though the show has a singular vision and trivia bits about where character names came from and like that.
But of all the commentaries, you can’t forget hearing the unmistakable voice of George Takei (who voices Riccardio). After watching the Riccardio the Heart Guy episode, he says, "This is for kids?"
ADVENTURE TIME EPISODE GUIDE - SEASON 1
April 5, 2010
Guest Voices include: Mark Hamill, Henry Rollins, George Takei, Erik Estrada, Michael Dorn, Lou Ferrigno, Clancy Brown
to Lumpy Space, where she has a huge fight with her parents and has to borrow a car from her friend Melissa.April 12, 2010
the elephant joins the heroes on a quest for the Crystal Gem Apple.April 19, 2010
after he admits that he once pooped on a leaf.
May 10, 2010
Finn and Jake get offered free magical powers from a mysterious guy, but discover that nothing is really free.May 17, 2010
witch takes them (because he stole her donut).
June 14, 2010
.September 6, 2010
ADVENTURE TIME EPISODE GUIDE - SEASON 2
Season 2, Episode 1 (Series Episode 27)
Guest Voices include: Martin Olson, Jeff Bennett, Paul Reubens, Stephen Root, Miguel Ferrer, Andy Samberg, Ron Perlman
October 18, 2010
Blood Under the Skin
Finn gets a splinter on his finger and has to accomplish tasks to get magic armor to make him indestructible.
November 8, 2010
Ailing Jake wants Finn to tell him a real-life story, so the young warrior ventures out into the country, annoying people and messing with their lives.
November 15, 2010
Snorlock the slimy slug destroys the house until Finn and Jake help him find romance ("Lady time!"), but he can't talk to females without something going wrong.
November 22, 2010
The Grand Master of the Gnomes kidnaps Jake to use his energy to power a machine to flip over the world.
January 3, 2011
Jake fools Lady Rainicorn's parents into thinking he's a Rainicorn, too; the parents want to eat Finn, as they think humans are mighty tasty.
January 10, 2011
To Cut a Woman's Hair
Wanting lovely hair, the Tree Witch threatens our heroes unless she get a lock from a princess. (No kids, you don't die from being—it's looks hot and feels cool)!
February 14, 2011
The Real You
Princess Bubblegum asks Finn to speak at her barbecue. We just read an Archie comic where Veronica has this problem, but of course she didn't go to a college of worms to learn how and she didn't get magic glasses.
February 21, 2011
Guardians of Sunshine
BMO does a “Tron” for the duo and they go inside a video game
February 28, 2011
Death in Bloom
Peppermint Butler helps the duo through a portal to the Underworld so they can bring back Bubblegums’ dead plant.
March 7, 2011
Finn finds a human female and he and Jake rescue her people from darkness, only to become concerned when they try to eat the candy people.
March 14, 2011
Jake takes Finn on a train ride for his birthday, when the two encounter a murder mystery that Finn’s aching to solve in a grand manner.
March 28, 2011
Go With Me
Finn wants to take Bubblegum to a movie night for couples, so he asks his friends for advice.
April 4, 2011
Belly of the Beast
The two friends cannot seem to convince a party-crazed group of bears that they’re inside a stomach and risk digestion.
April 11, 2011
Jake literally tries to stretch himself to his limits.
April 18, 2011
To avoid violating the warning code on their videos, Jake, Finn and their friends make their own movie. I have not checked, but I can guess that more than a few kids have done Adventure Time videos on You Tube, right?
May 9, 2011
The truly horrible Lich is released from his tree prison and wreaks havoc.
May 9, 2011
PB, under Dr. Donut’s care, is saved from her injuries but has been changed.