Saturday, 14 May 2011

Adventure Time (seasons 1&2)

The second season of Adventure Time just ended in a strange fashion – one episode was delayed, so ended up airing after the season finale. But with such an episodic series, it hardly matters, and anyone paying close enough attention to notice has probably heard about the situation and realises the episode wasn’t a continuation of the cliffhanger.

It’s been very interesting to watch Adventure Time transition from extremely silly and surreal Youtube hit, through popular new cult hit, and on to suffering a backlash as a cartoon only smug hipsters like, which has lost its way.

Thinking of the series like this, though, is to care too much about what other people think. It’s certainly changed in tone since that first little pilot, but really, it had to, and while remaining both extremely surreal and quite often the funniest thing on its network, it has also begun to finally show a little depth and sophistication, and towards the end of its second season started to bring to fore post-apocalyptic plot details foreshadowed from the very beginning but until recently only peripheral.

Finn may just be the last human left in his world, after the Great Mushroom War brought an end to civilisation as we know it. In the wake of the disaster, however, all manner of peculiar sapient beings have repopulated the world, including people made of sweets, vampires and flying unicorn-rainbow creatures. Finn’s best friend is a shape-shifting yellow dog called Jake, and together these two spend their days seeking adventure and going on silly quests.

Things certainly changed since the pilot. In changing from Penn (ie a representation of the younger self of creator Pendleton Ward) to Finn, the protagonist had a design change to look more stylised and shorter, his head seeming to grow into his body except in the rare instances he takes off his hat. The world, while still populated by very odd creatures, was more consistent, coherent and self-contained – no more visions of Abraham Lincoln or Jake dialing up to the Internet with his mind. Characters like the Ice King got developed by repeated appearances, and with a few notches less surrealism, there’s a few degrees more accessibility – although arguably you could call that less daring and originality. But of course the pilot still exists, and the two compliment each other well.

Adventure Time is supposed to look amateurish and psychedelic, and thrives on characters that can stretch, change and be drawn very quickly. It’s slapdash and silly – and the writing is intentionally subversive. Several highlights come at the ends of episodes, where something very odd and unresolved might happen moments before the credits roll, with a Pythonesque lack of a punchline.

I don’t care if much of its fanbase are abandoning Adventure Time because they perceive it as having got too mainstream or because they feel it has gotten too far from its roots. For me, it is the most consistently amusing kid-friendly animated comedy I can remember on American TV – even more so than Invader Zim or The Powerpuff Girls, and for that I will keep watching right until the end.

Season 3: link
Season 4: link
Season 5: link
Season 6: link

1 comment:

  1. Oh I didn't realise season 2 had finished properly. I still really like it, it has its dark side secretly yet still kid-friendly XD

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