Original Airdate: January 11, 2007
Written by: Pendleton Ward
No idea why it took me so long to get to this, but here’s the pilot! A bit of unnecessary exposition, considering everyone who reads this blog probably already knows this, but this pilot originally aired on Nicktoons Network. Pen Ward originally pitched the show to be picked up by Nickelodeon, but they declined. And boy, are they probably kicking themselves to this day.
There a couple noticeable differences between the pilot and the series; obviously the animation style is quite different, and while I prefer the character designs of the actual series, the animation is actually really fluid and smooth in movement. This is especially apparent in the fight scene between Finn and Ice King and just how hard hitting and flowing their movements are. Of course, it also makes the entire pilot seem a lot slower, so I’m glad they went with a faster and more high speed animation process in the final product.
As for the voices, John DiMaggio as Jake and Ward as Abraham Lincoln are the only voice actors from the series who are present for the pilot. Finn (or Pen, as he’s referred to in the pilot) is replaced with Jeremy’s brother Zack Shada, Ice King is voiced by John Kassir, Princess Bubblegum is portrayed by Paige Moss, and Lady Rainicorn, for some reason, is voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. I have to say, everyone does a good job in their roles, as Zack does a terrific job of simply soundly like a younger version of his brother. I’m sure John Kassir’s inflections as Ice King were where Tom Kenny got his inspiration for which direction to take the IK’s character in, and while they don’t sound identical, Kassir still does a terrific for only voicing the character once. It’s kinda like one of those character voices you see in a in a video game where it’s trying to be that character and sort of sounds like that character but isn’t that character. I have no idea why Lady speaks in gibberish, but it’s actually kind of fucking hilarious. I wouldn’t have wanted her voice to sound like that in the actual series, as Niki Yang’s voice is just so damn cute, but Dee Bradley Baker does an awesome job of just turning the character into a batshit animal. PB doesn’t speak much, but Paige Moss’s voice seems to suit her well.
What really works about this pilot is that it essentially works as a segue into the actual series. Besides the fact that Finn’s name is Pen, (which is humorously explained in one of the comics that Finn had such a fascination with pens at one point that he made everyone call him “Pen”) this pilot introduces Jake and Lady Rainicorn to each other, Finn’s infatuation for Bubblegum, Abraham Lincoln’s role as the king of Mars, and Ice King’s love for princesses. It’s a delightfully silly and crazy introduction to some of our beloved characters, and I could see it fitting along just fine with the rest of the series.
Onto season two!