Tag Archive | LSP

“From Bad to Worse” Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Favorite line: “Sorry, LSP, PB, Jake, LR, peepee poopoo doodoo.”

“The Monster” Review

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Original Airdate: August 15, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

Besides Trouble in Lumpy Space, LSP has taken on very minor roles since her debut episode. This is her main return to the spotlight, and arguably has an even bigger role than the episode aforementioned. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not the biggest fan of LSP when it comes to her more prominent roles, and this episode is somewhat of a true testament as to whether she’s able to hold a story on her own. Does she succeed? Well, let’s see…

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My overall favorite part of the episode is the beginning with Finn and Jake singing their little tune about themselves, which is both really endearing and funny, made even funnier by Finn’s outburst of “PIZZA!” as the song finishes. Somvilay boarded the first half of the episode, and he really does a standout job in this one. There’s a few great Somvilayisms: the tiny people falling down one-by-one and forming a map to the monster, Finn, Jake and LSP abruptly pulling up seats before LSP tells her tale, and just some of the really nice dynamic shots. One of Somvilay’s biggest strengths are his very in depth looking scenes, including the ones of Finn and Jake trodding through the woods and LSP frantically traveling through a forest. Also, he continues to be the master of telling jokes without actually telling jokes. There’s plenty of sight gags within this episode that are so easy to miss if you simply blink.

What this episode really comes down to though, is a good chunk of it being Pendleton Ward talking in his LSP voice for nearly five straight minutes. Lumpy Space Princess’s valley girl accent is worth a laugh if it’s used very sparingly, but hearing it for almost an entire episode is really grating. When it comes down to it, her situation with the wolves just isn’t that funny to me either. I enjoy watching her pretending to speak as the wolves, but aside from that, I can’t think of anything else that really even got a chuckle out of me. It’s classic LSP reading too far into drama, but nothing we haven’t seen before and just really drags on and slows down the general pacing of the episode a lot.

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In addition, the conflict of the episode really isn’t that compelling at all. I don’t really care if Lumpy Space Princess moves back into her house with her parents, which is even completely retconned later on. Why would they even include this somewhat emotional reunion if LSP just ends up choosing to be homeless in later episodes? It’s a resolution that I really have no reason to care about, and Finn and Jake being chucked to the sidelines only weakens the episode’s chance of succeeding.

The only other noteworthy aspect is that Lumpy Space King and Lumpy Space Queen’s design was revamped in this episode. I admittedly sort of liked the more grotesque and detailed design from the first two seasons, but Pen Ward labeled it as “too gross” so they simplified it a bit. It somewhat feels a bit drastic of a change from what they looked like before, but it’s a cute redesign, so I really don’t mind that much.

Aside from that, there really isn’t much else for me to discuss. It’s just slow moving LSP-centric episode that doesn’t do much to help develop or strengthen her character.

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Favorite line: “Yeah, we didn’t really do that much.”

“To Cut a Woman’s Hair” Review

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Original Airdate: January 10, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

One thing that Adventure Time does best is completely defying the viewer’s expectations and constantly keeping them on their toes. It’s not necessarily the shock humor you’d find on show like Family Guy, where it’s constantly trying to be in your face with over-the-top characters and situations, but it always has an element of surprise that you could have never predicted to see. Great examples of these are Magic Man’s reveal in Freak City or the Whywolves in Donny. This episode is the very first time we see Finn’s hair, and it isn’t treated like a big, significant reveal by the staff, network, or even the episode itself. It’s something that comes entirely out of the blue, and it’s hilarious, beautiful, and epic.

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When Finn does finally reveal his hair, the characters and visuals do treat it as if it’s a big deal, because it honestly is. The introduction of Finn’s hair and the fact that it’s immediately shaved off introduces something that isn’t regularly mentioned within the nature and world of the show: a clear timeline. We’re able to gather just how quickly or slowly time has passed by examining how long Finn’s hair has grown over a period of time. Considering we only get a legitimate mention of his age three times after season two, it’s rewarding to have this bit of continuity for fans to pick up on the changing times within the world, and it’s awesome to feel as though you’re in a world that’s constantly moving and growing. Again, the series manages to do this so ingeniously with something as simple as the length of Finn’s hair.

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Besides that, there’s a bit of world building for the other characters in this episode as well. We’re introduced to LSP living in the woods, which is a recurring home for her throughout the entirety of the series. This is also one of LSP’s better appearances in general. I really love the bulky and detailed way Somvilay draws her, and it adds a lot of oomf and personality to all of her dialogue. In addition, the scenes with Finn and Princess Bubblegum are especially cute, and she bestows upon Finn one of his most treasured possessions: a lock of her hair. Of course, this was specifically to serve the plot in this episode, but it would later become a source of affection, as well as obsession, for our hero.

The tree witch is a terrifically crafted antagonist, as she proves to be mildly likable despite her lunacy. Her voice is provided by Thurop Van Orman, the creator of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and the voice of its titular character. Van Orman has such a distinct and unique voice, yet he can alter it to fit any type of role without it feeling like he’s doing the same voice. Same goes for his performance as Gideon Gleeful in Gravity Falls; he really can add flair to any of these characters without drastically changing his range.

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To Cut a Woman’s Hair is great because it works as a completely self contained episode but also increases on the expansion of the world of AT and the characters within it. I always figured that Finn’s hair would grow back fully by the next episode we saw it, if we ever saw it again, but the writers took in the account of Finn’s aging process and the growing of his character, and one of the greatest ways they took on that is through the length of his hair. Also, this is an episode that has Jake being tortured while Finn has to rescue him. What a change of pace!

Favorite line: “Girl, if I didn’t already have a G.F., I’d be on you like butter on toast!”

“It Came from the Nightosphere” Review

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Original Airdate: October 11, 2010

Written & Storyboarded by: Adam Muto & Rebecca Sugar

Marceline is one of the most mysterious, yet developed characters in the entire series. Many elements of her past are vague; how she came into this world, the timeline between her entrance into vampirism to the time she met Finn and Jake, her past relationship with Bubblegum, etc. In her two spotlight episodes during season one, the only thing we could gather about Marceline is that she’s lived way beyond a handful of the main and secondary characters, and that she’s lost a chunk of her moral ethics along the way. It wasn’t until this episode that the more hidden layers of her character begun to unravel, in what is most likely the second season’s strongest effort.

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This is the first episode to welcome Rebecca Sugar to writing team, and I’m sure I don’t even have to explain to any of you who she is. I have somewhat controversial opinions about some of the episodes she has worked on, but overall believe that she’s one of the strongest writers on AT. The staff has said time and time again that Marceline is one of the hardest characters to empathize with, but I think it’s safe to say that Sugar knows Marcy better than anyone. She really made the character her own during her time on the show, and helped this episode to go above and beyond to showcase her more sympathetic side, along with the help of Adam Muto.

While I’m certainly not one of those people who believes that the series instantly began to rot once Sugar left during season five, the music of the show sadly did undergo decline. The reason I mention this is because “Fry Song” is the first song that was written by Sugar, and it really sky rockets above anything we’ve heard thus far in the series, and one that isn’t really comparable to anything we hear in later seasons. The raw emotion, the soothing strums, coupled with Olivia Olsen’s beautiful voice are really what make it one the show’s most famous symphonies.

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Hunson Abadeer, who is simply referred to as “Marceline’s Dad” or “Daddy” in this episode, as well as being voiced by Olivia Olsen’s father Martin, is the first real threat to the series. Thus far, we’ve had Ice King, Magic Man, Ricardio, among others, but none have felt as threatening as Abadeer. What makes him most effective as a villain is his connection to Marceline; we’re not really supposed to like this guy, but at the same time, we feel the strong emotions of our main heroine (in this case, Marceline) and want the two of them to be able to be able to reunite as family once again. It’s an impressive feat of conflicting emotions, and helps us both empathize with Marcy, as well as wanting Abadeer to be defeated.

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Finn is written terrifically in this episode. While we’re able to put ourselves in Marceline’s shoes, Finn never lets his emotions get the best of him. What he wants is what’s best for Ooo, but also for Marceline. While a 12-year-old can’t possibly understand what Marceline’s going through, Finn knows to allow what’s pure and righteous to save the day, and not to let his own feelings control the outcome.

This is also a great episode to showcase some of Ooo’s wonderful side residents. Among some of those residents are the Marauders and the Fuzzy Friends, who, to this date, have not appeared since this episode. Maybe they never got their souls back? Keeping in the tradition of building story arcs off of non-sequiturs, Abadeer deems Gunther as the most “evil thing I’ve encountered,” and we learn later on that Gunther is actually the powerful space deity Orgarlorg. I doubt this was planned from the beginning, but it’s a lot of fun to go back and watch this episode to see that the concept of Orgalorg didn’t arise from nothing.

There are some really beautiful nighttime landscapes in this episode. Ooo feels extremely expansive, as we explore Marceline’s House, the Grasslands, Red Rock Pass and the Ice Kingdom. The colors are especially vibrant, and really make the entire experience illuminating. As I’ve said, it’s just really nice to see Finn and Marcy hanging out as well. I just genuinely enjoy the way these two characters work off of each other, and this is one of their cutest interactions thus far. Also, if you were wondering where Jake was in this episode, he was in Finn’s pocket the whole time!

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Favorite line:No one flicks me in the butt without my consent!