“Hey, crack open that book and read something for fun’s sake!”
If Willy Wonka were a real person, then Adventure Time would be his favorite show. Finn the human (Jeremy Shada, Incredible Crew) is the same kind of eternal man-child that Wonka is (though more Johnny Depp’s interpretation than Gene Wilder’s.) Finn’s a Lost Boy living in a world that plays like an MMORPG created especially for him. His best friend Jake the dog (John DiMaggio, The Penguins of Madagascar) helps him navigate this world with the snark and affection any good sidekick worth his salt possesses. Their nemesis is the Ice King (Tom Kenny, SpongeBob SquarePants), the kind of delusional, lonely, ultimately incompetent foe you can easily laugh at.
There’s no real through-line for this first season of twenty-six episodes, save for Finn’s determination to be a hero, complete with a code of honor he lives by — help anyone who needs it. Though Finn resorts to violence first and foremost, he has a good heart and his adventures with Jake are engaging and well-paced. The 12-minute episodes are just the right dose of Adventure Time. It has a frenetic energy and it’s definitely a case where you can have too much of a good thing. Mainlining the episodes will make your head spin.
It should be noted Adventure Time is rated TV-PG and it earns that rating. Young kids may connect to the bright colors and simplistic visuals, but this series is really for older kids and tweens. As with any show that manages to capture adult fans as well, caution should be taken when exposing young kids to it.
The randomness of Adventure Time: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray) is its biggest draw and its biggest drawback. It’s what makes it possible for anyone to jump in at any time and become a fan and devoted viewer. It also means fans aren’t necessarily rewarded with callbacks and in-jokes from earlier episodes like you’d see on other shows.
However I embrace that randomness because it recalls being twelve years old like Finn. There’s the sense of not knowing what the day has in store, where there is every possibility because there’s no structure to the day, no routine like there is for adults. Finn lives on perpetual summer vacation, and Adventure Time is a chance to recapture that sense of freedom and excitement, of not knowing whether you’re going to fight zombies, go questing, or have a feast. If you give it a chance you’ll either love it or hate it, but you should give it that chance.
The simple animation style with its well-saturated palette has consistently looked good on the DVD releases. With almost no textures or shading the video has always been incredibly strong, but Adventure Time: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray) elevates the video stream to the point where I had to let my eyes adjust to how intensely bright and vivid the colors are. There are definitely no complaints on that front. The audio is the same Dolby Digital 2.0 as on the DVD releases and I wish it had been upgraded to at least 5.1 not because there were any glitches but because I can see the inherent potential.
Fans are definitely rewarded in the extras department. The special features are bountiful. To begin there are four episode commentaries. You should definitely watch the episodes before playing them with the commentary since most of what’s discussed has little to nothing to do with anything on screen. There are also some animatics with accompanying commentaries which deal more with the technical aspects and stories behind the development of plots and the like. Also included among the extras are a music video, a fan-based montage, and what appears to be a deleted scene. Tipping the scales is a code for UltraViolet copies of all the episodes.
Adventure Time is the rare show that grabs both adult and child audiences. A lack of underlying mythology which ties the episodes together means you can start with any episode and become a fan. I like the short bursts of imaginative adventures Finn and Jake go on; they’re reminiscent of the play time of my own youth. Now that Cartoon Network has finally released the season on Blu-ray, it’s worth a purchase.
What the stuff? You have to ask?