“A Glitch is a Glitch” Review

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Original Airdate: April 1, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: David OReilly

Hope everyone had a very happy holiday!! I was fortunate enough to get the sixth season of AT on DVD this year, so I don’t have to waste any more of the money I don’t have when I eventually get to season six in the future! I also took the time to rewatch A Glitch is a Glitch, which I have previously dubbed the “worst Adventure Time episode ever,” but surprisingly enough, I found myself responding to it a lot more tolerably this time around. I think this is only the second or third time I’ve ever seen it total, so it seems that time has been gracious for this one. Does that mean that I think that it’s good? Well, no, but I’ll explain.

It’s worth noting, of course, that this episode was written, directed, and animated entirely by Irish animator David OReilly. I had never seen any of his work before this episode, but have checked out most of his videos and short films afterwards, and if you haven’t seen any of them, I’d say they’re worth a watch. Most are creepy, surreal, and often nonsensical, but in a somewhat admirable way. You can check out his YouTube page here.

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Before I dig deeper into the episode, I might as well briefly discuss how I feel about the guest animated episodes as a whole. For the most part, I think a good chunk of them tend to be misfires. There are a few diamonds in the rough, but I find that most of the guest animator episodes tend to usually occupy my “bottoms” list as opposed to my “tops” list. That’s not to say that some of these episode don’t look great, as almost all of them are visual treats from what we’re normally used to in most given AT episodes. The main problem, however, is simply that it’s pretty hard to write for Adventure Time, and that’s an understatement. Pendleton Ward himself has said that finding the right artists and writers for the show was a process, as it took time to find people who could honestly show that they knew the show as well as Ward was able to. So while these guest animators and directors usually come in with fascination and the best intentions, I think it’s mostly a difficult process for them to grasp how to write for the series, while also incorporating their own unique stylistic choices. And unfortunately, while I think there’s clear effort put into this one, OReilly’s sense of humor really does not match this show or these characters.

In a writing sense, I didn’t find myself laughing at this one AT ALL. Some of these jokes and gags are really, really bad, and I felt like I was watching a completely different show at times. A fourth wall joke of Finn punching himself in the face? PB making out with her hand? PB and Jake’s ELBOWS flirting with each other? Yeah, I really fucking hate that last one, but a ton of these gags pose themselves as a lot more awkward and uncomfortable than actually humorous, and sometimes even betray the fabric of the world of this series by doing so. Yeah, it’s totally non-canon and everything, but again, I wouldn’t mind the cheats on reality if they were actually humorous. A majority of the jokes are very loud and overly long. Like, I didn’t laugh at the screaming donut man the first time he was shouting about his face, and I certainly didn’t laugh the two other times they attempted the same exact joke. And don’t even get me started on the “one second later…” gag. Good God, did that feel like a frustrating attempt to just fill time. There’s very few instances I can think of where Adventure Time has attempted this form of Family Guy lengthy gags, and for good reasons. AT is very quick and subtle in its humor and quips, which makes it stronger on rewatch value because there’s a good amount of jokes and lines you may have possibly glanced over. Here, there’s definitely more of a focus on milking gags as much as possible, and it really backfires. In terms of writing, it’s definitely this episode’s biggest weakness, and unfortunately, that’s a pretty big point.

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The dialogue of the characters wasn’t particularly bad or detrimental to their personalities, but also, I didn’t particularly love it either. Everybody was just… okay. Though I never really expect the guest animated episodes to be very character focused at all. Finn and Jake are their usual selves, as Ice King is, though not a particularly funny instance of his creepiness or loneliness. PB is interestingly very snarky throughout the entirety of this one, and it’s somewhat refreshing, though I didn’t particularly get into the lines that were given to her.

So I don’t like most of this one, but what do I like? Well, surprisingly enough, I really dig the animation! The colors are a pretty big eyesore, which many people have labeled as an error, though I feel like this may have been intentional on OReilly’s part, as some of his videos share the same issue. Color aside, the actual quality of the animation is pretty nice, and allows for some really nice visuals. The entire episode looks very fluid and polished, with some really fun detailed gags, like Ice King’s nasty ass hand, or the random details that Finn’s face acquires at one point. I also really enjoy how the episode incorporates the glitch into the visuals, with quite a few moments of faulty audio and a commonly pixelated looking screen that’s more interesting to look at than it is distracting. I think the animation and visuals alone add a bit of zest and quality to the entire episode, which is what I’m sure the guest animated episode’s main goal is.

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The landscapes also look nice. I really love the CG layout of the Candy Kingdom, especially how it incorporates actual extras in the Oooniverse. There isn’t just generic Candy citizens walking around, there’s full CG models of Mr. Cupcake and Chocoberry, which was a really nice touch on OReilly’s part. I also love the backgrounds in the space-computer-world, and the actual design of the glitch.

Touching on the authenticity of the story would be pointless; there’s no way in hell I believe any of this could actually happen in the world that Adventure Time takes place in, but the story allows for a lot of those nice visuals and the episode itself isn’t really considered canon to the universe, so it doesn’t really bug me at all. If a season nine episode was the plot of Slumber Party Panic, I’d say to myself, “there’s no way in hell that could realistically happen in Adventure Time’s universe,” but as silly as it is, it did happen. So I can’t really question this one.

It’s also worth nothing that this one did air on April Fool’s Day, so people often argue that the quality of the episode was an excuse to troll us, but I don’t really think that’s the case. I think this one was in production regardless of a set airdate, and then was just appropriately aired on April 1st to surprise/shock people. Because, if this is a prank episode, it honestly didn’t really do its damndest at being a “good” prank episode either.

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So I’m half and half on this one. I think the writing is probably too poor for this to actually be a passable episode, but the visuals are a lot of fun, and certainly helped me enjoy this one a lot more in subsequent views. Regardless of quality, I have to give my mans David OReilly some fuckin’ props. He was probably thrilled to get a chance to work with a show as popular as Adventure Time, let alone have complete creative control over an episode. It’s certainly not one I really like all that much, but that dude has a portion of my respect for being able to pull off that accomplishment at all.

Probably my favorite moment in the entire episode is the video Finn and Jake watch on their computer, which is actually also a video on OReilly’s YouTube channel. You can check out that disturbing and menacing creation here!

Favorite line: “You should wash your mouth!”

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