“President Porpoise is Missing!” Review

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Original Airdate: January 12, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Sam Alden

I feel like a large amount of season seven episodes attempt to recreate the magic of the early seasons by being lighter and goofier entries that separate themselves from the more intense “fluff” episodes from season six, such as The Diary or Friends Forever. It is easy to see, however, how these episodes differ from early season one entries. As my buddy Stuped mentioned over on the Reddit, a lot of these episodes capture the zany dialogue and lightheartedness of those early entries quite nicely, but what they lack is the energy and non-stop pacing of an episode like Evicted! or Loyalty to the King. In return, President Porpoise is Missing seems like a bit of a facsimile, as it imitates the silliness and story, but doesn’t really stand as what feels like a totally coherent entry. Granted, it’s not a complete stinker, but a lot of it feels like a series of set pieces with no real substance in the actual story.

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Of course, the concept for the episode in general derives loosely from a throwaway gag in Burning Low, and while I usually think these little continuity nods are enjoyable, this is one I’m pretty indifferent to. I didn’t really think the President Porpoise gag in Burning Low was that remarkable to begin with, so I wasn’t particularly ecstatic for an episode dedicated in his honor. But, it is a silly premise, with an equally silly introduction that features a whole gang of Tree Fort creepers. I absolutely loved the reveal of just how many people hide out within the Tree Fort, with not a single character feeling out of place. Banana Man and Ice King are lonely stalkers, Marceline loves to spy on the boys, Princess Bubblegum loves to spy in general, and Starchy and the Gumdrop Lass probably just have nothing else to do with their day. Definitely my favorite part of the episode, and I especially love how cool Finn and Jake are with a bunch of people randomly hanging out in their house. Even the Ice King, of whom the boys would’ve scolded in the past, is greeted with mostly positive reception. I’ve said it before, but Kent Osborne is really great with writing earnest and kind depictions of the main cast during these later seasons, where a lot of Finn and Jake’s interactions with other characters (and each other) are as non-condescending as possible.

A lot of that lack of condescension continues forth in all aspects of the episode, as Finn and Jake take on a political mission and use their skills in problem solving (and pun cracking) to collaborate with each other, BMO and Ice King have their own imaginary sea exploration (featuring another nice callback to All the Little People; Finn was right about those two!), and Banana Man finding love with a nice sea lady. I’ll briefly go over each of these subplots.

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Finn and Jake’s mission to the sea metropolis is great on a visual perspective. The sea world itself is awesome, and kind of surprises me that it’s taken Adventure Time this long to explore an underwater village that is this expansive. It all looks great, and the colors really pop within the expansive blue filter that surrounds each character and landscape. The story itself, however, is pretty unremarkable. I’m not really invested in what actually happened to President Porpoise, the character himself, or the other various sea creatures involved. Vice President Blowfish has a competent VA at the helm, though his motivation and character are barely elaborated on, and he also isn’t particularly interesting or funny in any way necessary. There’s a couple solid gags through these sequences, such as Finn and Jake’s high-five that causes Finn to fall over completely, or the little shrimp who is consistently taking notes, but other than that, the story itself isn’t really given any time to develop, and there aren’t many humorous moments to come from it. It also kinda rubs me the wrong way that Finn and Jake end up beating the shit out of V.P. Blowfish, when he’s clearly proven innocent. I mean, he doesn’t seem like the coolest or nicest fish in the sea, but his issues were mostly from a political standpoint, which they really shouldn’t have any part in to begin with.

Speaking of politics, Banana Man ends up finding love with a girl involved in said panel. While I do like Banana Man’s inferiority towards Finn and Jake within the submarine, I feel as though his actual love story is equally uninteresting. Part of the charm of Banana Man was his hardship of connecting with other people because of his own social anxiety, so watching him embark on his own mission for love is sweet, but particularly unchallenging. He initially mentions his struggles with the great line of, “it’s like there’s this instruction manual that explains how to talk to people, and everyone in the world got a copy except me,” but other than that one instance, his struggle of connecting with other people romantically isn’t really emphasized, so his actual accomplishment of finding love feels relatively hollow. His song is pretty bad and unmemorable; it kind of shocks me that they continuously have Weird Al sing songs within the series but never actually have him write or compose his own tunes for the series. It feels slightly like wasted potential. And I’m not sure I even get Cybil’s character in the slightest; she’s a representative and part of the Fish Parliament, but says that national politics aren’t her thing? I suppose she’s a state politician, but I dunno, it just struck me as a weird bit of character building that kind of makes her character seem impossible to read.

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BMO and Ice King’s moments were actually pretty awesome. I loved to see these two work off of each other and to genuinely enjoy spending time together. It actually surprises me how open BMO is to hanging out with Ice King, but it does make me think that BMO probably treats Ice King with more respect because he is a grown adult figure that he can hangout with, unlike NEPTR. Ice King just so happens to have a similar imagination and ability to go along with anything that he makes for a perfect companion to BMO. I similarly love how Ice King’s wizard eyes come back into play, as he imagines a brightly-colored submarine for BMO and himself to operate. Their friendship was really sweet, as Ice King can likely breathe easy and feel validated that BMO allows him to explore his more weird and imaginative side, and I enjoyed seeing another subsequent episode based on their friendship in the future.

So yeah, not a ton that sticks out about this one for me, but in a similar fashion to Angel Face, this one is nice and inoffensive. It’s hard to pick on it completely because it really does prove to be a fun waste of time that leaves you with a good feeling in the end. There’s some nice moments between the brothers in this episode, such as when Jake shrinks to an unimaginably small size and continues to fall into cracks, as well as their brief moment towards the end. There’s a nice message of companionship that connects the three stories throughout President Porpoise is Missing!, but aside from that aspect, the individual set pieces aren’t really entertaining. It’s a hodgepodge of ideas that never really get a chance to develop on their own, and while they have a nice motif that carries through them, I can’t really get behind anything that’s going on within the plot.

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Favorite line: “Dying with you sucks way less than dying alone!”

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