Adventure Time: It Came from the Nightosphere (DVD)

Is the Nightosphere located near the blogosphere?

For as much as I’m a fan of Cartoon Network, Adventure Time was never really on my radar…until now. When the show was first introduced, the simplistic art design and the alt-folk-acoustic theme were something of a turn-off. Now that I’ve sat down and watched all the episodes on this disc, the series is a lot more than it appears. Which poses the question: Is that a good thing?

In the magical land of Ooo, Finn the human (Jeremy Shada) and Jake the dog (John DiMaggio, Futurama) are a pair of adventurers, traveling the land and encountering all kinds of craziness. They also love to party.

Adventure Time: It Came from the Nightosphere contains 15 episodes:

• “It Came From the Nightosphere”
• “Rainy Day Daydream”
• “Wizard”
• “Power Animal”
• “The Enchiridion”
• “Slumber Party Panic”
• “The Real You”
• “Memorial of a Memory”
• “Prisoners of Love”
• “Crystals Have Power”
• “Business Time”
• “Mystery Train”
• “Guardians of Sunshine”
• “The Monster”
• “Hitman”
• “The Creeps”

I wasn’t surprised to learn Adventure Time started its life as an independent short film, because it has that “indie movie” feel, and not just because of the alt-acoustic-folk tunes. The tone is a “go-for-broke” style of comedy. Somehow, the show feels like it was made just for the joy of making it, and not with any concern for stuff like advertisers or focus groups.

This is a world where anything goes, so fairy tale stuff like unicorns and princesses exist side-by-side with stuff like video games and rocker chicks with electric guitars. Also, several episodes hint at nasty darkness lurking beneath the show’s candy-colored surface. This is good, in that you never know where the next episode will take you. But it’s actually not so good. There’s very little continuity about just what kind of the world this is and who these characters are. Jake’s personality changes from episode to episode, depending on the needs of the plot. In some cases, he’s the serious one keeping Finn from being foolish, but at other times, he’s the foolish one that Finn has to keep out of trouble.

Adventure Time is best watched in short bites, mostly because a lot of Finn is too much to take. He is, for lack of a better word, “agro,” full of energy, easily distracted, and jumping into every fight he sees without regard to his own safety. He sees no difference between battling monsters and partying. His non-stop “sugar high” persona is more exhausting than entertaining. Many of the side characters are more interesting, especially the demonic rock chick Marceline (Olivia Olson), who is cool and likable enough to carry her own show.

Presented in standard definition full frame, the colors really pop, sometimes psychedelically so. The Dolby 2.0 Stereo audio is clean and clear as well. A short featurette is it for extras.

According to IMDb, these episodes are presented in a different order than in their original broadcast, which is likely to confuse and even anger some diehard fans.

What to make of Adventure Time: It Came from the Nightosphere? Here we have some writers and animators truly cutting loose with their creativity, but they’re doing it without so much as a thought to plot and character. I enjoyed the show, but I’m left wondering how much better it could be.

The Verdict

Not guilty. Don’t squish me!

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