Original Airdate: October 24, 2011
Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Kent Osborne
I always sort of look at From Bad to Worse as a lesser The Creeps. Both possess a large horror theme and feature a set of major characters working together. In addition, both are quasi-sequels to past episodes. This episode is a follow-up to the very first episode Slumber Party Panic, and while this one is definitely more cohesive and enjoyable than the episode it’s based around, I think it squanders a bit of its potential by struggling to work in good humor and character interactions in its execution.
The episode essentially lives up to its title by being exactly what it promises: situations going from bad to horribly wrong. While I do like some of the transitions the zombies go through, especially LSP’s luscious lip formula, I think the show could’ve been funnier and more creative with the way these zombies transform. Even the characters, who are the ones that create these potions that end up fucking things up are just sort of there to observe everything. I’ve always believed that disbelief and confusion can be two of the funniest reactions to watch in any TV show, and I really think From Bad to Worse could’ve worked in some stronger ways for the characters to react to the insanity going on around them.
Somvilay really pushed the bar with just how many dynamic shots he could include in this episode, and it really shows. Somvilay can have some of the funniest anti-joke oriented episodes when he puts his heart in it, and I think that, while it’s a very distinct type of humor he tried to incorporate, it just doesn’t work aesthetically with the episode. There’s very long sequences of the characters mixing different juices and potions and it just feels… dry. There’s tons of unique and nice looking shots, but they just aren’t outrageous, in depth, or even funny enough to keep my attention. Somvilay’s one of the most ambitious storyboard artists on Adventure Time, but there are times when he can get a bit too carried away with forms of anti-humor that the episode ends up being just that: humorless.
Now, that’s not to say this episode is really that bad though. It’s a very fast-paced episode, and while it’s not a particularly funny one, it’s still relatively enjoyable from beginning to end. I do really like the frantic speed and the urgency of the situation. Although The Creeps was primarily a horror-themed episode, the circumstances didn’t seem to have a feeling of dire consequences till the last third, while this episode has a sense of dread throughout its entirety. There are some nice bits, like Jake trying to outrun his arm and being turned into a zombie. That entire scene is both humorous and creates a large feeling of tension, and man, you really do sympathize with Jake. His actions in particular are just really considerate; he doesn’t freak out or want any of his friends to worry about him, and quarantines himself for the safety of others. It really shows Jake at his best. He isn’t always as morally centered as Finn in his actions, but Jake is firm in his belief to not let anyone worry about him, and to protect those he cares about most.
In addition, while I don’t think Somvilay’s drawings make for some very funny scenes, they are really visually interesting to gawk at. Somvilay really knows how to make shots dynamic without them seeming too off-model or distorted, and the way he incorporates both the ceiling and the floor in several shots make the episode seem much more aesthetically pleasing on some levels. There’s also a longshot where Finn slides through PB’s lab on a task chair through a bunch of the Candy zombies and it just looks so freakin’ cool. Kent and Somvilay really mesh well when it comes to well-crafted intriguing shots.
I could kinda see the ending coming from a mile away. I don’t mean to sound like a stuck-up little snob when I say that, but the minute I saw Science and remembered PB’s line, I was all “yeah, Science is totally her rat.” But whatevs, it was a cute ending and it wasn’t a twist that deserved to be completely ambiguous. I especially enjoy Science using “knife juice” in his concoction. I wonder how one even gets to acquire knife juice. The solution with Finn dousing himself in the serum was very clever, and the award ceremony at the end was equally amusing. Although, I call bullshit on Finn not getting an award. The little guy sacrificed himself to save the Candy People. All Science did was comically shrug!
So yeah, this isn’t really a great one in my book. I think there could’ve been a lot more jokes and funny character interactions, but for what it is, it’s a mildly enjoyable bit of frantic terror that compellingly keeps the viewer’s attention all the way through. A bit odd that we got The Creeps and From Bad to Worse back-to-back; I know they both aired during the Halloween season, but I’m wondering if they were purposely next to each other in production order. While both episodes are good at conveying this genre in their own merits, the best horror-themed episode of season three is yet to come.