Tag Archive | Cole Sanchez

“Jake Suit” Review

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Original Airdate: July 15, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Kent Osborne

Jake Suit received a lot of criticism for similar reasons to why people were angry at Jake in Jake the Dog; Finn is kind of a dick, and it’s understandable why people would dislike his portrayal in this episode. Yet, I’m actually not against it, and think it helps to strengthen this episode’s comedic prowess.

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First off, it’s just nice to see the Jake Suit back in general. Existing as an idea that began as early as the series itself, (in fact, Pendleton Ward himself would recruit artists who could draw the Jake Suit exactly how he envisioned it in his head; this is how Jesse Moynihan was hired) the Jake Suit is a concept that is used sparingly in the shown itself, yet has become somewhat of an icon within the series otherwise. It’s been featured in a handful of comics, as well as numerous shirts and even some of the video games, and even a 6-inch action figure was made. However, it’s an aspect of the series I’m glad that is used sparingly; it’s a pretty awesome feature, both design and battle wise, and I don’t think it’d be nearly as effective if they used it more frequently than they already have. Though, here it’s used mostly for story purposes, rather than battle purposes.

And here it shows why it isn’t necessarily used for battle that often: it fucking hurts Jake. And despite this, Finn somewhat ignorantly disregards Jake well-being while wearing him as armor. The reason I don’t think Finn is that unlikable is because it’s made pretty obvious at the beginning that Finn doesn’t understand how Jake experiences pain. Hell, it’s made pretty obvious that after that first scene, Finn had no idea that Jake was in pain at all. I think it’s clear that Finn’s failure to feel pain the same way Jake does is evident in his actions, and I do think the rest of the episode redeems any form of distastefulness he may have shown. Finn constantly tries to help Jake in his plans to put him through pain, and though Jake typically fails, it’s somewhat endearing that Finn wants him to succeed regardless, as he acknowledges the pain that he put Jake through. And c’mon guys, you mean to tell me that we’re supposed to think Finn is mean-spirited in this one when Jake tried to embarrass him in front of his girlfriend’s family and nearly tossed Finn in a volcano (even if he probably wouldn’t actually do it)? I get that Finn was kind of the one who put Jake in that position in the first place, but I think both boys have their moments of asshole-ishness, though these are moments that don’t affect the quality of the actual episode for me.

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In fact, I think this is a really funny one! Cole Sanchez and Kent Osborne teamed up on this one, and they would continue to write for some of the funniest episodes of this entire season. The entire beginning of the episode is great in terms of absurdity; I love how extreme Finn and BMO are, and the lengths they’ll go to in accidentally being brutal towards Jake. There’s also tons of great bits of dialogue in this one, including the frequent use of the expression “what the Bjork?!”, the way Finn describes pain as being “hickeys of the universe,” and the way Flame Princess describes her aunt and uncle as her “judgmental aunt and uncle.” And hey, whatta ya know, Flame Princess in a supporting role! How often does that actually happen? There’s also the incredible “blink and you’ll miss it” sequence at the beginning when the Jake Suit nearly rips apart a good portion of the Treehouse, as Ice King is just randomly chilling there. What the fuck is up with that? I always thought that this episode was supposed to be aired after Frost & Fire because of that brief scene, but then I remembered that Flame Princess is in this one. So that’s strange!

This episode is also filled with some terrific callbacks. The Squirrel from Up a Tree makes a return during the book reading sequence, Jake once again mentions his list of “tiers”, and The Buff Baby song returns, despite how much I’m so wildly passive towards it. I am glad that this is the last time they featured this song in the series; it had already been way overblown by this point, and I don’t even think John DiMaggio’s delivery was funny enough to save it. Also, we get to see a grown T.V. in this one, voiced by Dan Mintz. I never really got into T.V., as he’s probably my least favorite of the pups, though I do like his suggestion that Jake should have Finn jump in a volcano. My favorite part is that it kind of reads as “dad, go kill yourself,” in the most harmless way possible. That got a big laugh out of me. The clown nurses return at the very end to give Finn some much needed comeuppance, further showing that one man’s pain is another’s pleasure. It was really the perfect ending to cap that motif.

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There’s a few things I wasn’t crazy about in this one, however. One isn’t really a problem with the episode itself, but I feel like there’s never much consistency throughout the series with Finn’s reaction to physical pain. Like, he bitches in Blood Under the Skin when he gets a splinter, but in this episode he’s fully prepared to take on lava? Granted, he was a few years younger in Blood Under the Skin, but it kind of seems like his endurance depends mostly on the plot rather than being a consistent character trait. Also, I think some bits in this one are a little pointless. Jake’s attempts to bore Finn with the Dream Journal of a Boring Man is humorous, especially when Finn starts to actually enjoy it (a nice freeze frame bonus is to actually read the page in the book, it’s so nonsensical), but Jake’s attempt to piss Finn off by eating his meatloaf, while I enjoy that it references Finn’s consistently mentioned “favorite food”, doesn’t really go anywhere and neither does the Flame Princess bit either. I felt like the journal was a means of showing Jake’s frustrations with his inability to hurt Finn, though the others, while partially funny, didn’t really feel like humorous methods of driving that point further.

All in all though, I like it! It isn’t quite my favorite “funny episode” this season, as there’s other Sanchez and Osborne episodes down the line that take the cake, but I still enjoy it. There’s plenty of funny gags, lines, and character moments. And also, ya know what, this is just a good brotherly episode between Jake and Finn. They can’t kiss and hug every single episode they’re in, and I’m glad this episode took the time to build up a bit of a dynamic between them in terms of actual differences they do have. I’ve mentioned that the two brothers arguing can bring down the strength of the episode, though this argument is kept fun, light, and slightly snarky. Overall, it just makes the brothers feel more realistic.

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Favorite line: “You just have to imagine that every bruise is a hickey from the Universe. And everyone wants to get with the Universe.”

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“The Party’s Over, Isla de Señorita” Review

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Original Airdate: May 27, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Cole Sanchez

Ice King’s more sympathetic side has mainly come from his tragic past history as Simon Petrikov, as well as his relationship to Marceline. However, there still is the side to Ice King that is deeply troubled and creepy, especially when it comes to his special interests in capturing princesses. In this episode, the IK’s obsession with his favorite princess finally blows up in his face and sends a message to him, allowing him to actually make some changes in his life, with the help of new companion. Of course, these changes are only temporary, but nevertheless, it’s a pretty satisfying Ice King experience.

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Right off the bat, there’s a nice change of pace with the episode taking place mostly on the island (more specifically, Isla de Señorita) with only Ice King, the Island Lady, and Party God being heavily focused on. Finn and Jake are once again demoted to background characters as they were in the previous episode, though it’s a change that, with most AT episodes, isn’t dreaded for the creative and experimental results that come from these types of episodes.

And the focus of the episode is really nice; the relationship between Ice King and the Island Lady is quite sweet, and I love the angle the episode takes on Ice King’s personality. The biggest takeaway from this one is simply how well Ice King is capable of sanity and more socially acceptable behavior when he just has a loving, caring friend by his side. In fact, Ice King’s analysis of PB’s issues is actually pretty fucking spot on! “Yeah, well, PB is just so closed off to her emotions, she crushes the relationship so she doesn’t ever have to develop feelings,” is a really accurate way of describing Bubblegum, and this is coming from Ice King of all people. I think it’s another valid point to show that, despite his insanity and social ineptitude, he does show signs of random brilliance and intelligence, possibly showing that parts of Simon do shine into his subconscious at times. Also, I thought it was a really nice touch that they didn’t force a mutual romance into this one with the Island Lady and IK; it would’ve been the much more predictable and somewhat unrealistic route, and once again, I’m glad it showcased the one crucial component to Ice King’s mental health and maturity: having a strong friendship.

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The Island Lady herself is somewhat of a blank slate. I do love her design! It’s really inventive and seems like something that would come out of an indie short film. Though, she’s not really given any sort of a personality. But it’s not really an issue of the episode; the main focal point is, like I said, to showcase a more emotional mature side of the Ice King, and it works out pretty damn well, so I don’t really mind that Isla de Señorita’s a little bit dry (no pun intended). I do quite enjoy her singing voice as well, though the song in this one isn’t a particular favorite of mine. It’s pleasant and has a nice beat, but it isn’t one I find humming to myself or listening to that much.

The use of Party God in this one is a lot of fun. I feel like it only makes sense that he’d be a douchey frat boy boyfriend, and it works just as well using him in this scenario that it would with, say, Ash. It’s also a small thing, but I love how he picks everything up with his mouth, as it just hangs lightly between his teeth. That got a small chuckle out of me. Also, I think the battle between he and Ice King was actually pretty visually interesting. We don’t get a ton of inventive looking battles from AT because, well, it isn’t an action show, but this episode’s incorporation of an aerial battle between Party God and the IK was a lot of fun. And it’s pretty intense as well! I love Ice King angrily uttering, “She is not your “bid-ness”!” That was really sweet coming from him, as he is known for objectifying women, even if he is angrily giving someone comeuppance for doing the same thing. It might seem hypocritical in some instances, but again, this is Ice King, whose ability to grasp social norms is incredibly difficult, so this is a pretty significant moment.

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Ice King using Party God as a puppet for Isla de Señorita to vent her frustrations out to was delightfully fucked up, but also pretty cute. The whole exchange between the two, as Ice King struggles between staying in character and unveiling his own feelings, is just great, and it saddens me that we haven’t seen these two together again. Above everyone else, the Island Lady allowed Ice King an outlet to get away from the toxicity of his wacky relationships in Ooo, and even left him with an important lesson about relationships. Though, it may not have impacted him the way she had hoped. Ice King officially “breaks up” with Princess Bubblegum, though the last line of the episode, “ah, we’ll work it out,” suggests that he hasn’t learned as much as we probably hoped. Though, this doesn’t bother me at all; Princess Monster Wife also showed that, whatever developmental changes Ice King may go through, he still is very much unstable, and there’s little that can change that as long as the crown still is taking possession of his mind. The biggest takeaway, as I’ve said, is that a friend can go a long way for the sad iceman, and it can even help him regain bits and pieces of his sanity for a period of time.

So I like it! I wouldn’t call it a particularly entertaining one, but I appreciate its tone and what it was going for. What came out of it was a very interesting look as Ice King in the midst of an acquaintance, and that’s about the best I could’ve expected out of this premise. Nice colors, nice atmosphere, and overall a really nice friendship to capture my attention throughout the episode’s run. During a Lego contest where AT fans were encouraged to build Lego figures of random characters, one person in particular made one of the Island Lady, and it looks awesome! You can check it out here.

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Favorite line: Banana Guard yourself, Princess!!”

“Princess Potluck” Review

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Original Airdate: April 22, 2013

Written & Storyboard by: Cole Sanchez & Kent Osborne

Ice King is still a deeply funny character despite the added layers of depth that were contributed to his character in the past few seasons. And I think it’s reassuring that, to this day, they haven’t committed to making him a character we’re supposed to take completely seriously. We care about Ice King because of his quirky behavior and the humor that surrounds his character, though I think it’s pretty reasonable that we’d expect something a little more compelling and interesting for the IK to do in season five than what we’d see from him in season one. And Princess Potluck is an episode that possibly could have fit in the season one bunch, though as it is, I think it’s a pretty bland and boring entry.

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There isn’t really anything that keeps me interested in the story or the conflict for this one. It’s a pretty simple story that I honestly think could’ve been shrunk down to Grayble-type length and cut out a good portion of the episode. I’d even argue that Ice King simply wanting to attend a princess potluck is a better suited story for one of the comics than the actual episode. Even the punchlines themselves that drive Ice King further into madness aren’t really that compelling. Everyone that Ice King forces to go to the party ends up doing the exact same thing, which is just kicking back and enjoying the potluck. It’s not really even funny the first time and trends pretty predictable waters, so I’m not sure why they kept pulling the same gag multiple times.

Ice King isn’t necessarily written poorly in this one, but it’s simply nothing new from what we’ve already seen from his character. I guess there’s that cool bit of voice range we get from Tom Kenny as Ice King impersonates different people on the phone, though it didn’t really make me laugh and felt more like a corny, old vaudeville bit. There’s one or two moments that come to mind in terms of moments that actually made me laugh, one being the conclusion where Ice King reveals that he didn’t know he was invited to the potluck, simply because he doesn’t read his mail. That was totally a classic Ice King moment. The other bit I liked was Gunther repeatedly pulling a taser on people, strictly for the ludicrousy of it all.

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Besides that, this one just feels… bare. The only other noteworthy part of this episode is the allusions to BMO Noire, which… didn’t really need to exist? Like, AT has pulled off plenty of ambiguous off-screen moments, so I really never lost sleep wondering why Finn returned to his house with a Sea Lard and why Jake had an arrow in his head. I guess it was a bit silly that they took the time to explain it, but how does this fit in with the timeline of the actual series? Kind of weird that we’re supposed to buy into this structured timeline the show has set up, yet, there’s moments like this that don’t really add up at all. Also, I really hate the ending gag with the stalker squirrel. I think this is the one time the show felt way too in your face with, “hey, look, this character’s back again! Remember how funny they are!” and it’s really just more distractingly throwback-y than actually funny or rewarding. Some of the designs of the princesses are always nice to see, like Princess Princess Princess and the newly introduced Bounce House Princess, who is apparently a very scandalous woman. As is, it’s a pretty predictable and generic story from a series that is usually so good at avoiding the treading of common ground. This is a potluck I really wouldn’t mind skipping.

Shameless self-plug time! I’ve been getting really into digital art lately, check out this drawing I made of my boi Fern! If you’d like to see any more drawings like these, let me know! I’d be happy to draw some up.

Favorite line: “Nanners? Why, I don’t know the meaning of the word.”

“Simon & Marcy” Review

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Original Airdate: March 25, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Cole Sanchez

“There’s so much that exists outside of show because it’s a post-apocalyptic future, which means that the present exists in the reality of this show. You have to extend this whole world back into the past and every that’s happening in it is real, and there’s so much that you didn’t see that’s implied to have happened, and that becomes real, but it also becomes something that you invent. So you have a personal ownership over everything that created Ooo, and it really does feel like your imagination because it’s asking you to imagine so much of it and connect all these dots.”

If this Rebecca Sugar quote sounds familiar to you, that’s because I used it for reference back in my I Remember You review to show how eloquently it went with the theme of the episode. Interestingly enough, this is a quote that I actually think works more against this episode than supports what it was going for. Yeah, this is one where my opinion might come off a little pretentious and douche-y. Whereas people have regarded I Remember You as the “really good episode that isn’t as good as everyone says it is,” that’s somewhat how I feel about Simon & Marcy. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s hard to argue that this episode isn’t at least good, but that is to say that it’s one I do have a lot of problems with, though this may just be on a personal level. Let’s dig right into it.

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First off, let’s address the bits I don’t like, and then we’ll gradually work our way towards the good stuff. I think my biggest issue with this episode is simply that, well, it’s one of Adventure Time‘s least surprising entries. This isn’t one where I was disappointed because it didn’t go the way I had wanted to, because that would simply be unfair to the episode itself, but this is one where I was disappointed because it went EXACTLY how I expected. And honestly, that’s a pretty surprising feat for any Adventure Time episode. Even an episode like I Remember You, where we all knew that Ice King and Marceline’s backstory would be explored in some shape or form, the way it was presented, as well as it being the most raw AT experience to date, was intriguing, to say the least. This one just plays as a straightforward backstory episode, and it’s certainly not presented badly at all, yet, it really makes me question the intent and purpose of this episode if it was just going to simply show us what we already could’ve pieced together on our own. Future episodes like Evergreen or Bonnibel Bubblegum, were both mainly backstory focused episodes, but they had their own unique twists and turns that saved them from potential predictability. Here, I could kind of gather exactly where it was going to go, what it had to say, and how the characters and relationship would be portrayed by the first second. It just seems a little too standard for Adventure Time‘s… standards.

Like the quote at the beginning of this post suggests, part of the fun of Adventure Time is piecing together the parts of the show we don’t see. We never got to see how PB and Marceline became friends, but we still believe that they were close and are even able to share our own interpretations of how they got together and how they eventually separated. Similarly, we’ve never seen an episode of Simon and Betty’s married life, though we know they were in love and we feel the tragedy of their relationship regardless. Likewise, Simon and Marcy are two characters who, even without seeing this episode, you can gather a lot of their backstory from just looking at the evidence already at hand: Simon found Marceline during the fallout of the apocalypse, took care of her until the crown took over, and separated from Marcy for thousands of years. You can gather all of that from just simply watching I Remember You. So in a way, I think this one actually shows a little too much and goes beyond how much I actually feel like I’d need or want to see in terms of the Simon and Marcy arc, or, in a contradicting sense, not enough. It shows a good chunk, but nothing where I feel like I learned anything new or I’ve gained more insight into the actual Simon and Marcy story.

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And I wouldn’t mind it as much if the episode was a little more complex, say, if it had bits of Marcy and Simon’s relationship throughout a period of months (similar to the journal entries from Marcy’s Super Secret Scrapbook, how dope would that be?) but instead we’re left with what I consider to be a somewhat low stakes adventure as Simon tries to find chicken soup for Marceline and battles off oozers in the process. I think the boundaries could’ve been pushed even further, with Marceline’s sickness being more crucial than it seemed, and the inevitability of surviving after the war coming into question. Go full on Grave of the Fireflies on our asses! But again, that’s me wanting something from this episode that it clearly isn’t trying to accomplish. It’s trying to be a lighter tale that Marceline tells the boys and Ice King in order to keep the spirit of her and Simon’s relationship alive. But again, I really question whether this is the kind of expedition I wanted to see from the two old pals or if I actually learned anything new.

There’s also some nitpicks I have as well, mainly from a writing perspective. I think a lot of lines that they give Simon come off as really clunky and confusing on occasions. Probably the worst line of dialogue in the entire episode is when Simon first puts on the crown and states, “YOU WILL NO LONGER TERRIFY A 47-YEAR-OLD MAN AND A 7-YEAR-OLD GIRL.” I know it’s supposed to be Ice King speaking, and yeah, he’s crazy and everything, but by God, who the fuck talks like that? That line literally only exists to give us a frame of time as to how old Simon and Marcy are, and I wish they could’ve done away with it completely. Aside from that, there’s parts where… I think Simon is being quirky, but I can’t tell if that’s what they were going for or if it’s supposed to further show how he’s transforming into the Ice King. For example, the scene where he’s singing to Marceline, or when he asks her if she’d like a ride on his back. Like, I guess you could kind of suggest either; that he was being goofy and charming towards Marcy, or he was losing it a little bit while the crown took over, but I can never figure out which I’m supposed to feel. I guess that’s what makes it interesting, but it’s more confusing than intriguing for myself.

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Alright, before y’all raise your pitchforks and torches and burn me at the stake, I do LIKE this episode. The main factor that I enjoy about it is, surprise, surprise, the relationship between Simon and Marceline. They really are just adorable to watch, and yeah, it’s everything I expected them to be, but it still is enlightening to see them work off of each other so well. I honestly can’t praise Ava Acres enough, but she really does such a tremendous job portraying young Marcy. Everything she does, says, and feels is extremely endearing, and I really enjoy whenever she’s able to have some sort of part on the show. And I love how much this episode hammers in that Simon needs Marceline as much as Marcy needs him. Without Marceline, Simon would most likely have just given into the crown, and not even attempted to fight off its power, but he fights and does his all to make sure that Marceline’s safe. It’s a pretty beautiful relationship that the two have, and in contrast to my bitching prior, it really is what saves this episode and helps it land on its feet.

In addition to great voice acting from Acres, Tom Kenny does a superb job at giving Simon a quiet, likable charm to him. Just as Holly Jolly Secrets proved, Kenny is capable of more than just silly voices and wacky characters, and when he pulls off a competently serious performance, it really knocks things out of the ballpark. This is really the first time we get to see Simon in a full length episode as well, and aside from those moments I mentioned above, I do like how he’s portrayed as somewhat of an awkward father figure. I’d even suggest that, most of the time, he really doesn’t know what he’s doing. Of course, he puts his all into caring for Marceline no matter what it is, but instances such as when he’s trying to ride the motorcycle, which backfires, or the simple solution that he legitimately does believe that chicken soup will cure Marcy of her illness, shows that he isn’t the most competent person in his position, but it really only adds to his charm and likability. He most likely wasn’t ready to be a “father”, but pretty much had to given the circumstances around him.

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And my polarizing views aside, this one does have one of my favorite AT moments off all time, which is the inclusion of the Cheers theme song. Besides being an avid fan of Cheers myself, the way it’s used by Simon as a method of keeping his sanity and holding onto his own reality is quite brilliant and incredibly powerful to watch. The entire sequence is like a suckerpunch to the gut; as Simon softly begins the song, it quickly transpires into a frantic and violent melody that gets more distorted as it goes on, and then quickly returns to soft and solemn on the line “Where everybody knows your name,” where Simon realizes that he doesn’t even remember his own name, or at this point, Marcy’s for that matter. It’s a tragic scene that uses once again uses raw emotion and music to convey some really sound emotional drama.

There’s also some little bits I get into a lot, mostly with the backgrounds. This one is eye-candy galore, with some really nice debris and wreckage in the background that just really sucks ya into this apocalyptic world, and for the most part, it’s all visually interesting. I think pretty much all of us have that bridge implanted in our subconscious somewhere. While some of the humor can be a little awkward and out of place, some gags do get a laugh out of me. I like the birthday cards they have inside the soupery, and the Clambulance, as stupid as it is, is such a bizarre idea that I can’t help but snicker at the very concept of it. Also, some nice little chunks of lore with the inclusion of the gooey, bubblegum substance, which we wouldn’t really understand the meaning of until Bonnie & Neddy. Or Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW, if you got through the boring redundancy of that game, or just watched it on YouTube.

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So overall, despite what seems like many, many issues I have with this one, I do like it to a degree, just not as much as most people do. From a personal standpoint, the episode as a whole kind of defies what I believe is the fun, imaginative aspect of piecing parts together in the world of Adventure Time, but I am glad that we got to see the wonderful relationship that is Simon and Marcy. I could’ve easily believed they were as close as they’re portrayed without this episode, but it is nice that it exists for all the people who wanted to see what they were like together. It just so happens that it played out exactly how I thought it would and that hurt the element of surprise that AT so often excels at, but everything I expected is really sweet and enjoyable, and I’d be wrong to say that Simon and Marcy are portrayed badly otherwise. This was Rebecca Sugar’s last episode during her time on the show, and I think it was a goal for her to nuke us with emotional goodness for her final episode. It goes a little bit overboard and is slightly distracting for me, but I’m glad she left fans with such a sweet, heavy, tune filled episode that is pretty much everything any Adventure Time fan has ever wanted from Sugar. Nevertheless, thank you for some terrific entries the past few seasons, Rebecca! Your presence on the show is truly appreciated by all (sometimes to a pretty extreme degree). I conclude this review with a beautifully written selection of panels from Adventure Time Comics Issue #16, featuring Simon and Marceline. It made my heart grow heavy.

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Favorite line: “Yeah, lay down, Marceline, go to sleep! Right? What are we talking about?”

 

 

“Bad Little Boy” Review

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Original Airdate: February 18, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Rebecca Sugar

Bad Little Boy is perhaps the last enjoyable episode in the Fionna and Cake saga. That’s not to say the later episodes don’t have their redeemable moments, but I think this is the last one I’d consider to be legitimately “good,” or at least enjoyable. Not to say that this one isn’t without it’s problems, though.

I really enjoy the silly beginning with Ice King’s purposely terrible Fionna and Cake vs. Dr. Prince escapade, though I really am not sure if this works with the overall continuity of Ice King as the author of Fionna and Cake. I mean, it seems like something Ice King would write, yet the story told in Fionna and Cake was a legitimately captivating and well-written story, ludicrous ending aside. And then you have Five Short Tables where, enjoyability factor aside, was also a very well-written, coherent story from the Ice King. So I’m not really sure I’m fully behind the idea of the IK being a shitty writer, because again, it’s been contradicted both in the past and the future. But bitching aside, this was a fun beginning, and I do really love how Ice King is just casually reading to a group of captured princesses. Honestly, rewatching these episodes, I’ve really never realized how fucking bad Wildberry Princess has it. I mean, I think she’s gotta be the most frequently captured princess in the entire series. And Ice King doesn’t even like her that much! Poor chick has to deal with silver fox trauma almost everyday.

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The reactions to Ice King’s awful tale is where Marceline comes in, and I think it’s really cute that she was just chillin’ around the castle and spying on him. This is the first post-I Remember You interaction between the two, and it’s heartening to know that she already is comfortable enough with being around him that she doesn’t mind dropping by every now and then. And I appreciate how this episode is just them hanging out without any mention of their past history together. It’s nice to just see them shoot the shit for once.

Once Marceline’s story starts, it is nice to once again see Fionna, Cake, and Prince Gumball. Despite my feelings on the F&C episodes as a whole, I do appreciate these characters and the dynamic they share with each other. For instance, I like how Fionna is actually the one who’s kind of fed up with Gumball. The first episode established her as a strong female character WHO DON’T NEED NO MAN, and I’m glad this episode followed up with also showing off her general annoyance with Gumball’s prissiness. Also, this is sadly the last time we get to hear that lovely Neil Patrick Harris voice portray Gumball. This is why celebrity guest voices never work for recurring characters (looking at you, Lena Dunham.)

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Speaking of celebrity voice actors, Donald Glover portrays Marshall Lee in this episode, and man, is it spot on! I recall back to that terrific fan-animated video featuring Marshall Lee and I remember thinking, “I hope the actual Marshall Lee sounds like that.” And I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, but Glover captures that exact tone and deliverance perfectly, while also adding a bit of experience and flare to his performance. Lee as a character is very enjoyable as well; he’s basically Marceline as a playful douche, but one that’s a lot of fun in that regard. I enjoy his carefree dickishness (“I know you’re gonna say yes to me, so let’s just go.”) and I think it makes a lot of sense that Marceline would portray herself as a carefree badass. Obviously she’s a lot more caring and sensitive than she puts on, but we’re still at a point in the series where she hasn’t completely sacrificed her laidback facade.

Good Little Girl/Bad Little Boy are sadly Rebecca Sugar’s last original songs during her time on the show (yeah, yeah, I know we still have Everything Stays, but that was long after she left the series) and it definitely hits on all that Sugar charm that makes her tunes so catchy and enjoyable. I’m not one of those people who thinks that Sugar leaving the show was some catastrophic event that ruined the series, but damn, did the show suffer song wise after her departure. I can count on one hand all of the AT songs I enjoy post season 5.2, while I can count all the songs I don’t like on one hand from the first five seasons. A shame, really.  Nevertheless, Good Little Girl is an enjoyable vocal and visual entry. I like all the genderbent characters that attend the concert, including new visitors, such as Ms. Pig and the female Marauaders. I also crack up at the fact that Lumpy Space Prince’s voice is identical to his female counterpart, which is later acknowledged, but I think it works best here. Also, I can’t get enough of Cake shaking her rump and singing about her hot potatoes. That was priceless.

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The dynamic between Fionna, Marshall, and Cake works great as well. Again, I think Fionna is a little more mature and level-headed than our boy Finn, so it’s cool to see her fuck around with Marshall and not really fall for any of his bullshit, whereas Marceline usually leaves Finn hopelessly confused. Even strengthening her maturity is the idea that Fionna will allow Marshall to mess with her as much as possible, but once he messes with Cake, she don’t fuck around. This then transitions into the next song, where Marshall captures Cake and lays down some hardcore bars with his skeleton bros in a graveyard. This song isn’t quite as enjoyable or memorable as Good Little Girl, but it is nice for the show to utilize Glover to his fullest potential by giving him a chance to rap at all. And a pretty solid one, at that! Weird Al Yankovic still has yet to put out anything tolerably enjoyable during his time as Banana Man.

This conflict leads to some pretty gruesome shit where Marshall gets stabbed, which, even though it’s fake, is still pretty explicit for the show to feature. I do appreciate how the big emotional scene is just kind of treated as total bullshit and Fionna once again has the upper hand on the maturity scale, but it is kind of weird to see this coming from Marceline’s perspective. I love the idea that Marshall thinks Fionna is, “the realest person [he] has ever met,” which could easily be attributed toward Marcy’s perception of Finn, though the idea that Marshall Lee kinda puts on this attitude that Fionna is infatuated with him is… kind of strange, right? I assume Marceline doesn’t think this way about Finn, but why would she insert a quasi-romance between the two if it didn’t even cross her mind? Probably reading way too far into it, but it just is somewhat odd writing that I’m not sure I can ever really understand fully. I actually think I would’ve liked it better if the entire story was from Ice King’s perspective and it turns out he was reading to Marceline the entire time.

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However, the story ends, and Ice King is visibly disappointed with the turnout. Again, not sure I understand why, as it seems almost completely identical to the first F&C story, but I’ll let it slide. I do enjoy him kicking everyone out and taking time to praise his Fionna and Cake ice shrines, even if I still believe this one would’ve made more sense before Mystery Dungeon.

Overall though, I think this one is decent. I think there’s some definite lulls; as much as I enjoy the beginning scene with the IK, it makes the actual F&C story seem a lot more frantically paced. I mean, the actual story doesn’t start till about three and a half minutes in, and while it does contain plenty of enjoyable moments, it just feels like it’s on fast forward. I do genuinely enjoy Marshall Lee and his interactions with Fionna and Cake, so a bit more time and focus on the actual story would’ve been much appreciated. This is a particularly nice looking episode, however. The backgrounds are great! Love the lighting in the concert sequence, the eeriness of the graveyard, and the sunrise that befalls Marshall, Fionna, and Cake. It all visually looks really impressive. Aside from the visuals, interactions, and a good chunk of funny moments, this episode doesn’t really live up to its predecessor, and the entire F&C saga kinda dies after this one. Sad to see that such  highly regarded element of the series only has two good episodes out of five, but Fionna and Cake is simply a concept that doesn’t have a ton of room to grow outside of the first episode. But, for now, I’ll enjoy the tasty remnants of this one, and prepare for the bad taste that The Prince Who Wanted Everything will eventually leave me with.

Favorite line: “Wildberry, don’t pretend; I know you like the silver foxes.”

“Little Dude” Review

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Original Airdate: February 4, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Michael DeForge

Little Dude is one I usually tend to look over and forget. It’s not a particularly bad entry, but I can’t really think of much that makes it stand out. It’s the most basic form of a fluff episode, but one that does include a decent array of enjoyable moments.

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I think the concept for this episode is certainly a bizarre one, even for Adventure Time’s standards. The idea of Finn’s hat coming to life, turning things into poo, and lusting after control of others is certainly never something I asked to see from the show, but it’s silly enough that it somewhat works. I don‘t really care for the character of Little Dude too much, as I’m not really sure how we’re supposed to feel about him by the end of the episode. Like, he’s nothing but an annoyance to Finn and Jake the entirety of the episode, yet Finn angrily claims “we were supposed to be buds!” when Little Dude does goes berserk. I dunno, it seemed like a weird emotional connection that never really payed off. And of course, Little Dude’s existence meant we had to awkwardly stare at a buzzed cut Finn throughout the entirety of the episode. I admit, it was kind of humorous and interesting to see Finn’s hair this short, but it’s still just fucking weird. I mean, even though we know it’s his hat, we as viewers are kind of all under the illusion that Finn’s hat is a part of his head, so going to entire episode staring at his neck and ears and rounded noggin is just a surreal experience.

Luckily enough though, I think the episode is sprinkled with tons of silliness that I am on board with. I really like entire beginning scene with Finn and Jake trying to make a whirlpool in the water, that was classic bro stuff. I love Jake’s sassage flare, and the absolutely vile way Finn and Jake actually eat the sausages: dipped in milk. What a fucking gross atrocity that I could’ve gone my whole life without seeing. I also love to see BMO as somewhat of a mom to Finn and Jake! I’m not really one for gag characters, but I do love how BMO’s relationship with the boys can change from episode to episode. One episode he can be their sassy robot buddy, other times he’s their child, and here, he’s their mom. And a spunky mom to say the least. He hit Finn on the butt! Also, the “kiss my cook” apron was priceless. That’s gotta exist somewhere on Etsy.

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This is also the Life Giving Magis’ first speaking role after his first appearance in Mystery Dungeon. I do enjoy the Magis as a character, which is mostly driven by Dana Snyder’s voice. But also, how can one not enjoy Dana Snyder’s voice? Magis gets a couple of funny moments in this one; I’m not completely down with the whole contrived daddy issues arc, because even though it’s a recurring theme in AT, there was really no reason for this one to exist outside of it being a recurring theme. I don’t really care about Magis’ daddy problems honestly, and the conflict just kind of seems unnecessary. If Magis was able to take the sentient life out of all the inanimate objects in the end, why wasn’t he able to do so to Little Dude when he was wrecking the Candy Kingdom? The simple answer is that it did allow for a pretty fun havoc sequence, and I did like the incorporation of the Gumball Guardian. It is always fun to watch him get in on the action, even if it is for only a minimal amount of time.

The climax was a bit meandering as well, but one I didn’t mind a whole lot. I did like all the funny one-liners the sentient objects of Ooo offered, and it did provide for a decent conclusion to the episode. But overall, there just isn’t a ton to this one. It’s actually funny to see just how many “fluff” episodes there are in the first half of season five; not that fluff episodes are bad but any means, but I’ve found that a good handful of these are particularly insignificant, especially after coming off of season four, where it felt like every episode was trying to be something impactful. However, season four was only half the length of season five, and things will eventually pick up once the second half of the season comes along. For now, I’ll enjoy these lighter episodes, in preparation for some of the heavier and darker stuff we get down the line.

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Favorite line: “Whomever the hat possesses gains the proportional strength of a hat!”

“Jake the Dog” Review

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Original Airdate: November 12, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Rebecca Sugar

Onto Jake the Dog! Without going into too much detail already, I think it’s safe to say that this episode is an improvement over the last one. Does that make it good? Ehhh, well, let’s dive deeper.

I did mention at the end of the review that I was anticipating more of Prismo, who to this date is one of my favorite secondary characters, for no other reason than the fact that he’s just a cool dude. I like his laidback, charismatic attitude, his voice work, courtesy of Kumail Nanjiani and his willingness to help others, despite his obligations as a wishmaster. He’s always a very enjoyable presence, and this episode highlights everything that’s so likable about his character, and why he’s so fun to be around. I like his connection with Jake especially, and feel that, besides F&J and PB & Marcy, they make for one of the greatest friendships in the series (yes, I just called PB and Marceline friends. Please don’t verbally eviscerate me).

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This one essentially contains an A-plot and a B-plot, so, while I’m on the subject of Prismo, lemme go into detail about Jake’s side of the story. The episode is called Jake the Dog for a reason, it emphasizes some of the most well-defined aspects of his personality: his carefree attitude, his laziness, and his desire to be leisurely and kick back with others. To a degree, I think it does all three of those a little too well. I’m on the side of the crowd that believes that Jake is a little too selfish and a little too stupid in this one for my own liking. I get that the titles Finn the Human and Jake the Dog are supposed to highlight Finn and Jake’s differences: Finn’s nobility, desire to do good, and undying devotion for others contrasts with Jake’s own wants and needs, but at the same time, a large part of Jake’s character is his devotion to his best friend as well. Jake was willing to latch onto the fucking Lich two episodes ago for the sake of the world, and it’s honestly frustrating to watch him so blatantly ignore his brother’s alternate self (who is technically his current self) crumbling around him. The idea that all Jake wants to wish for is a sandwich is quite funny, but not when his friend’s life is on the line.

It’s honestly just poor context for the scenario, because I really enjoy Jake’s time chilling with Prismo and the Cosmic Owl. It’s so silly in its own right – that two cosmic beings are just casually sitting around, eating cheesy snack in a hot tub, and playing board games. It really is an excellent example of what makes each and every character so great in AT; even some of the most highly regarded beings in the universe can be just as goofy and “normal” as our two main boys. I like Jake giving Prismo relationship advice as well, showing us how different Prismo is in regards to Jake’s optimistic and honest relationship with his own girlfriend. I get the feeling that the reason Prismo is so nice and friendly is the fact that he does get lonely. He’s restricted to the confines of his timeline and probably only gets to speak to “singulars” when they want something from him. Prismo finally found someone who’s interested in just hanging out, and not someone who’s using him for his own personal gain.

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But, as I said, because of the circumstances, all of the scenes featuring Jake and friends feel unnecessarily cruel and inappropriate in relation to all of the scenes featuring Farmworld Finn. And, unlike the previous episode, I’m actually invested in Farmworld Finn’s dilemma and emotional state this time around. The two stories are interlaced so awkwardly that the combination of humor and drama really kind of falls flat, which is something AT is typically terrific with in terms of blending genres and moods.

I wouldn’t be so critical of it if the Farmworld Finn aspect wasn’t interesting, but this time around, it’s really freakin’ entertaining. I definitely expected tons of apocalyptic references from this episode, but tying the ice crown back into these themes is really intriguing. From the moment that Finn puts it on, it’s changing faster and more drastically than it did for Simon. Why? Well, two possible reasons. One is that Finn is young and still inexperienced, and his impressionable mind was altered faster than Simon, who is full of knowledge and life experience. Second, it could be that, while Simon strongly resisted the power of the crown, Finn accepted it and allowed it to take over his mind. Of course, the simple answer is probably that there’s only so much inner turmoil that could’ve been covered with Farmworld Finn in the course of seven minutes, but it’s still an interesting thought to be analyzed. The stuff we do get with Farmworld Finn is really powerful and tragic regardless.

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Despite my complaints that Farmworld Finn was difficult to empathize with in the last episode, it really is tough to sit through the hardships and insanity he experiences, especially with his family. One of the most impactful moments of Jake the Dog is Finn’s conversation with his family. The interactions between Finn and his mother are sad enough, as that connection has proved to be the strongest out of Farmworld Finn’s relationships, but the most effective reaction from his family derives from his baby sibling. Or, more so, Finn’s reaction to his baby sibling’s crying. I love how control of the crown does connect to caring and loving for another being, so when Finn sees that his brother is noticeably upset, he does what he must to save his family from the power of the crown, yet does not take it off. It’s a subtle, but powerful moment that really emphasizes the greatest flaws of the crown: the wearer may be able to save everyone around him/her, but won’t be able to resist the urge to wear the crown.

Once the mutagenic bomb does set off (featuring the infamous animation error of the crown still being placed on Simon’s skeleton) things get even darker and grittier, as Finn beholds a disintegrating Marceline and the mutated remains of his pet dog. Finn’s demeanor and behavior transpire into pure insanity, which is both really entertaining and also somewhat horrifying. I have to give it to Jeremy Shada, this may be one of his best voice acting efforts in the entire series. Not to imply that he’s ever performed badly, but he so magnificently emulates the Ice King mannerisms, as well as the breaking fear and sadness in Finn’s voice, making for a really, really powerful performance. The bit with Finn fearfully crawling back from Jake as he transforms into the Lich cuts me deeply inside. It also raises an interesting question: was the Lich created from the mutagenic bomb, or did he simply arise once again from the destruction of the bomb? As further episodes suggest, he’s existed as long as the universe, if not longer, so I’m assuming he’s been defeated and silenced time and time again, only to arise and cause destruction once more.

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Drawing towards the end, in a return to Jake and Prismo’s antics, Jake conducts the perfect wish to ultimately retcon the mishaps around him. It’s a bit underwhelming to have everything return to normal after this entire arc, even if there are lasting effects that will return later on, but unfortunately, we won’t be seeing anything from this selection of stories for quite sometime. So by its end, Jake the Dog does have Jake showing off his heroic side by saving the day for everyone, but sadly, I think it was a little too late in the episode for me to root for him.

When it comes down to it, this one is just decent in my eyes. I know this is one people like a ton, and that’s understandable! As I mentioned, there’s some really juicy bits in this episode. Farmworld Finn’s experiences with the ice crown are more than enough to justify this existence of this episode, with really nice animation, design, backgrounds, emotion, voice acting, and, especially, lore. Unfortunately for me, the Jake parts weaken a majority of the stronger plot points. The pacing, as I mentioned, is really sporadic, and dampen the emotional and intense roots of the A-plot. The ending also feels like the entire journey was worth nothing; I’m not someone who believes that Adventure Time needs to be a completely serialized show and that anything good is strictly plot related, but if you’re going to drop a three-part epic about the Lich on us, I’d expect a bit more of a lasting impact than just returning to the wacky and goofy antics of the characters of Ooo an episode later and not touching on any of these issues for a whole 52 episodes. I’m still satisfied with the bit of excitement we got while exploring the Farmworld, and its content still resonates with me greatly even if the entire episode does not.

Favorite line: “Here, eat this egg. It’s brain food.”