Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time, created by Pendleton Ward and co-starring Futurama’s John DiMaggio, is both a callback to classical children’s narratives as well as a breath of fresh air for modern cartoons. Where a lot of shows tend to steer away from the fable structure of storytelling, with all its morals and lessons, A.T. turns it on its head and inside out to create a world that’s compelling, imaginative and downright weird.
In the magical land of Ooh (as in, “Ooh, Oz!”) the last human boy, twelve-year old Finn, lives with his best friend and ally, Jake the dog. Together, these two embark on a host of adventures, from rescuing the land’s many princesses from the dreaded Ice King to confronting Marceline the self-proclaimed Vampire Queen. Through these trials, Finn and Jake’s bond is made all the more strong, and the two gain the wisdom and understanding needed to be true heroes. Of course, none of this ever gets in the way of what’s really important: partying down and having a good time.
Yes, Adventure Time does subscribe to a rather antiquated mode of children’s storytelling, but it does so in a self-aware fashion that rarely plays out as expected. The show is just as content to conclude its tales with utter nonsense as it is to engage in moralizing, and sometimes even the morals don’t make that much sense. All of this is but an alluring glamour, however, that allows the show to get away with some of the best and most genuine character development of any cartoon in recent memory. The heroes are flawed and touchingly vulnerable, and even the villains have greater depth than most shows’ main casts. From Finn’s unrequited feelings for Princess Bubblegum to the Ice King’s semi-tragic quest for happiness, Adventure Time deftly balances real emotional weight with an off-the-wall comedic sensibility that will appeal to viewers of all ages.
The first DVD release of the show, entitled “My Two Favorite People” after the Emmy nominated episode, is a little different than what viewers have come to expect from TV DVD releases. Rather than comprising a full season, this release functions more like a sampler, allowing new viewers to get into the show for a low price. While this does allow for a wider range of great episodes, the only clunker being season 2’s “The Limit,” it is a shame that viewers will have to wait for later releases to get the complete A.T. experience. What’s more, for a show so clearly invested with love and care by its creators, the DVDs dearth of special features feels inexcusable. Still, for the price being offered, and with the inclusion of a colorful character index, “My Two Favorite People” is a real treat for both new viewers and old fans alike.
“Adventure Time: My Two Favorite People” is currently available for $10 at most retale locations and from Amazon.com. Adventure Time is rated TV-PG for fighting violence and crude humor.