Tag Archive | Season one

“The Silent King” Review

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Original Airdate: February 7, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Jesse Moynihan

The Silent King starts off by bringing the audience directly into the action without establishing characters or plot. In any other show I’d probably call it out for its lack of context, but it’s one of the many charms of Adventure Time: it can start and end on any given confusing absurdity and still feel fitting with the world and the characters in it.

And there’s no better villain to showcase this quick introduction than Xergiok, the goblin king. Right off the bat, the episode does a great job by showcasing his ludicrousy in both his actions and rapidly changing design. Seriously, Adventure Time is, for the most part, on-model in terms of character design, but Xergiok’s appearance shifts are straight out of Ren & Stimpy!

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At the center of this episode, however, is the characterization of Finn’s role as a hero. As shown through the treatment of the goblin people, Finn is certainly not a utopian ruler that allows all of his loyal subjects to wait on him. Rather, Finn just likes kicking evil’s ass and doing what he believes is morally right inside. In any other show, Finn most likely would’ve gotten power hungry and would transform into a dictator that is no better than Xergiok by the end of it, but AT has a great deal of consistency with how its characters are portrayed and what seems most in character for them. Finn’s actions just seem to come so naturally, and it’s entertaining to see him getting legitimately frustrated over Gummy trying to help him, yet only being a giant annoyance.

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The full upscale battle between Finn and Jake ala Jakesuit (its very first appearance!) vs. Xergiok and the Earclops is the type of battle we haven’t quite seen from the show until this point, and it’s extremely rewarding. It’s a fast-paced, jumpy experience with some terrifically creative means of defeating the Earclops, which are also hilariously designed, by the way. I really wish that we could get more Jakesuit battles throughout the series, because if this episode proved anything, it’s worthy of many more exciting battles.

I previously mentioned in my review of Crystals Have Power that Jesse Moynihan’s drawings looked a bit messy and flat, but the floppiness of his drawings is definitely toned down significantly in this episode and are much more similar to those you’d see in a typical episode of AT. It definitely took Moynihan some time to get into the groove of drawing the characters, but his work and learning definitely shows in this episode.

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It’s also appropriate that Finn doesn’t try to aim toward changing the perspective of the goblin people in order to fit his vision, as he’s fully willing to accept his role as a helpless king. The fact that the goblin people don’t change by the end of the episode but are still able to live in a happy environment with a non abusive ruler was very endearing and happy. Finn chooses a decision that benefits everyone involved, including himself, and is able to go on living his life as a hero: what he was truly meant to be.

I wonder what Whisper Dan is up to these days. I feel as though him and Box Prince would get along just swimmingly.

Favorite line: “I’m not gonna spank your hams!”

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“The Pods” Review

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Original Airdate: January 31, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

I’ve never really liked the fact that people refer to Adventure Time episodes as filler. The series follows a nonlinear storyline, and aside from the miniseries(s) and some lingering story arcs, it’s a show that consistently has a lot of “filler” episodes. I mean that in the nicest way possible too, as some of the episodes that are labeled as unimportant in regards to the continuing story are also some of the best (Thank You, All the Little People, Hall of Egress, etc.) Despite that, there are episodes that fit the description of filler that just aren’t bizarre, funny, or experimental enough to stand out on their own. The Pods fits that description.

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Again, not to say that this is an awful episode, as there’s nothing that it actually fails horribly at in a writing or animation aspect. The plot is just so simple that I could see any modern day cartoon such as Chowder or The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack tackling it with their own characters and little would change. Adventure Time’s willingness to be different from every show on television is really what sets it apart from every other animated series, so choosing a simplistic plot and not really bringing anything new to the table is a bit disappointing.

While the idea of the three magical beans is simplistic, it does lend itself to some intriguing possibilities, but unfortunately, the episode doesn’t really take advantage of it. For instance, do we actually ever find out whether the pigs are evil or the wands are evil? I know the pigs were involved in destroying a town, but how do we know that the wands weren’t having some kind of influence on their behavior? Even though it’s never revealed, the show doesn’t treat this as a possibility. We’re just supposed to assume it’s the pigs. I could picture an alternate scenario within this episode where Finn and Jake have to decide whether to reprimand the pigs or destroy the wands. The actual reveal doesn’t occur until there’s only two minutes left in the episode, so the timing could’ve been used much more efficiently to flesh out that idea. Or, I dunno, maybe the ice cream is evil? It is high in cholesterol.

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Besides fantastical alternate plot ideas in my head, the episode just doesn’t lend itself to many great jokes or depictions of the characters. I really feel like they could’ve went all out and just had Finn going completely insane trying to figure out which of the pods was evil and which was not. Even having Jake run off to the ice cream contest while Finn ends up going crazy watching the pods lends itself to some really funny and interesting concepts. Or somehow tying Jake’s desire to win the ice cream eating contest into the story could’ve strengthened it.

So yeah, this is a pretty mundane one, and one of the weaker season two episodes. I gotta say though, I’m a sucker for those pigs in silly costumes. They’re adorable!

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Favorite line: “Actually, I’m a Gnome Knight who was magically transformed into a frog. And then I decided to continue being a knight.”

“Storytelling” Review

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Original Airdate: November 8, 2010

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Tom Herpich

Storytelling isn’t a personal favorite of mine, but it’s one of the sweetest Adventure Time episodes to date. It shows just how far Finn will go for his best friend, even beyond his heroic instincts. In a way, it shows Finn in his most destructive side, but also his most compassionate.

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So far, we’ve only ever gotten to see Jake as a caretaker for Finn, so the dynamic switch in this one is rewarding. As for dynamic changes, this is also a big switch from the traditional “cartoon fairytale episode” that shows like Ren & Stimpy, Animaniacs, and even Samurai Jack have tackled. While these shows did fairytale renditions especially well, AT continues to avert being a carbon copy and stick to being as original and creative as possible.

The episode’s humor is mostly carried by the colorful animal characters of the forest. A personal favorite of mine being Mr. Fox, whose entire character is primarily carried by his hilarious voice, provided by storyboard artist Tom Herpich. Mr. Fox himself has become somewhat of a recurring character, and while his personality isn’t nearly as compelling as some of the other secondary characters, Herpich’s dry inflections certainly make him standout. Aside from him though, I actually really like the other side characters in this episode too. Boobafina, Forest Wizard, and that bear with attitude issues and his mother are just what’d you’d expect from Adventure Time’s side characters: bombastic, full of personality, and tons of fun. And that cow with Phil’s face on her udder. Yeesh.

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Like I said, this isn’t a personal top tier episode in my eyes, but this is actually one I watch quite often. There’s just something so charming and genuine about this one, again, mostly due to Finn’s dedication to helping his brother in his time of need. Obviously he’d never go through with it, but he was really about to squash some baby birds for Jake. What a trooper! It’s heartfelt episodes like this that remind me why I watch this show: because I care so deeply about the two main characters and they care so deeply about each other. Of course, Jake repays the favor to Finn by helping to nurse him back to health at the end of the episode. “The end.

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Favorite line: “Yo, put that bag back on!”

“Blood Under the Skin” Review

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Original Airdate: November 1, 2010

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Benton Connor

Finn the Human’s strengths come from his bombastic energy and desire to help other people, but not necessarily his physical attributes or cunning traits. He’s defeated the Lich on three separate occasions and has even survived lava through his time on the show, but he’s relied mostly on his wits and his daredevilish personality to accomplish these tasks. This episode highlights that Finn, while brave, noble and honest, can sometimes be a wimp when it comes to taking pain. Not that I can really say anything though, I’m still a little bitch when I get splinters too.

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What I really like about this episode is that it stresses that it’s okay that Finn isn’t the toughest warrior when it comes to physical attributes. In fact, all of the obstacles he endures in this episode are mentally taxing as opposed to brutal combat. Finn the Human, while being deemed a “pervert” or a “baby” by those he encounters in this episode, has one thing that Sir Slicer and his armored cronies do not have, and that is a large moral center. Blood Under the Skin continues with season one’s tradition of teaching Finn what it means to be a true hero, and this one spotlights not needing to look “cool” or tough in order to show who Finn truly is, and that is Ooo’s greatest hero.

This episode is loaded with great side characters. This is Choose Goose’s very first appearance in the series and I never figured he’d become a recurring character, but his generally surreal demeanor and Hanna Barbera-esque voice always cracks me up whenever he’s on screen. This is also a limelight episode for Steve Little’s voice acting. He plays both Sir Slicer’s minstrel and the drop ball ghost. What I like about Little is that you always know it’s his voice almost instantly when you hear it, but it has such a cartoony and exuberant touch to it that it almost feels like he could play every background character and I really wouldn’t mind. And I totally wanna try to play drop ball after this episode. Sir Slicer is a delightful jerk, and I’m surprised he’s never returned as an adversary towards Finn.

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What’s really undermined by the episode, however, is just how great Jake is written. Like I mentioned before, Finn seems constantly concerned with his identity as a true hero, while Jake doesn’t really give a fuck about what people think. He’s as supportive as possible to his best friend in this episode, but he has no shame at all wearing that slick lady armor. Although I think I can permanently remove the scene of Jake picking Finn up with his butt from my memory. Hopefully Finn will too. Right in the vault.

I also wanna try something a little new and include my favorite bit of dialogue in each episode review. This week’s quote:

Favorite line: Wonderful! I’ll need a trade of equal value. I’ll take the head of your dog friend!”

Season One Review

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Season one of Adventure Time introduced me to one of my favorite shows of all time. It was revolutionary for introducing us to wonderful bright and dark characters within the glorious Land of Ooo. And while I enjoyed it quite fine the first run and the second run, how does it weigh in as a whole?

Characters

The first season introduced us to a majority of the series most prominent characters: Finn, Jake, Ice King, Princess Bubblegum, Marceline, and (partially) BMO, as well as some secondary characters: Lumpy Space Princess, Lady Rainicorn, Tree Trunks, NEPTR, Magic Man, and so on.

The depictions of these characters aren’t nearly as fleshed out as they are in later seasons, but it’s a very nice introduction to a lot of the fun elements each character has to offer. Finn is vibrant and pure, Jake goes with the flow yet is also bombastic in his own way, Ice King is sad and insane, Princess Bubblegum is sweet yet very passionate about her kingdom, and Marceline is playful and sometimes devious. We get some see some glimpses of development between the characters, including Finn’s characters flaws, Princess Bubblegum’s darker tendencies, Ice King’s more depressing side and his growing admiration of Finn and Jake, and Marceline’s transitioning from Finn and Jake’s adversary to one of their best friends. The characters’ more in depth personalities and unique dilemmas aren’t explored as much as they are in later seasons, but they’re certainly represented as fun characters to want to spend time with.

I’ve said this time and time again but Finn and Jake’s relationship is really the strong point of this season. I firmly believe any good show has to have some heart at the center of it, and Finn and Jake really embody every endearing aspect of this first season. Energy, compassion, and fun is carried with them at all times when they’re on screen, and I can’t think of a time I was legitimately not enjoying myself watching them.

In fact, it’s a pretty impressive feat to not be able to name a character off the top of my head that I truly disliked that was introduced in this season. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not the biggest LSP fan, but her role in the first 26 episodes is pretty minimal and she doesn’t really steal the spotlight as much as she does in later seasons.

This was just a delightful introduction to some of my all time favorite characters. While they would only develop more as time went on, everything about these characters that is later fleshed out is practically inserted in subtle moments throughout everyone’s actions. Of course, the only reason they’re able to become so complex is because they start out so simple. And as Adventure Time has proven time and time again, simplicity can be the route to something much greater.

Artwork

The aesthetics of the first season could really be dedicated to Ghostshrimp’s beautiful background work. He seriously knocks it out of the park with  the many designs, skies, and general landscapes that he’s created. GS played a key part in designing the Land of Ooo, and what he conducted was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen in an animated series in years. Here’s some of my favorites:

I can’t really think of a specific storyboard artist that stood out, as I don’t think any of the episodes had the unique individual artwork that each storyboard artist possesses in later seasons, but the artwork is simple and fun. There are a few design quirks, however. Jake’s eyes and jowls are generally a lot larger than they are in following seasons, and he just looks kinda off. In addition, the characters are drawn with more cartoony and expressive faces, and Finn will frequently be drawn with eye-whites, which is somewhat distracting to me. Pendleton Ward has previously claimed to have hated seeing Finn with eye whites, as Finn is easier to connect with the audience through his simplistic dotted eyes, making him feel more real and less like a cartoon character.

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Otherwise though, this season is one of the most expressive and jumpy in terms of animation, considering the series becomes much more grounded later on. That being said, it is delightful to see Adventure Time in a Ren & Stimpy fashion in terms of its animation, but also, I’m glad the series didn’t stick to being outrageous and borderline schizophrenic in movement and facial expressions as it progressed.

Writing

In terms of humor, this is also the show’s most random and arguably juvenile approach at laughs. This leads to some very hit-or-miss jokes and gags, which honestly depends on your sense of humor. For me, the absurd humor works a majority of the time, but at other times, not so much. And I love the wacky dialogue within the series, but there’s only so many “shmowzow!” “slamacow!” “algebraic!” catchphrases I can sit through and not roll my eyes at.

In terms of individual writers, Adam Muto and Elizabeth Ito really killed it this season. They really know how to write good AT, which is likely how they got promoted to showrunner and supervising director respectively.

In terms of writers in general, a good chunk of them didn’t end up continuing to work on the series after the first season, so it was sort of difficult to adopt the styles or visions of writers such as Sean Jimenez, Luther McLaurin, J.G. Quintel, Armen Mirzaian (who sadly passed away three years later) or even Niki Yang.

So while the writing is a bit too 5th grade at some points, I have found myself laughing a lot more than I thought I would while rewatching.

Top 5 Best Episodes

5. Evicted! – A great introduction to one of AT’s most complex characters with a vibrant and fast paced song and some great character interactions as well.

4. The Enchiridion! – A terrific adventure and spotlight episode for our main character with loads of whimsy and quirky characters.

3. Dungeon – An exciting dungeon crawl with some hilarious one-time villains, as well as continuing to build on Finn and Jake’s relationship.

2. Ocean of Fear – An interesting look at Finn’s psyche and the realization that fears are not something to be ashamed of or ignored in any way.

1. What is Life? – The first episode to humanize Ice King and transform him from a psychotic jerk to someone who is completely lonely and devoid of anyone’s love and affection. Also, I fucking love NEPTR.

Top 5 Worst Episodes

5. Slumber Party Panic – Not necessarily a bad episode by any means, but somewhat of a poor start to the series considering that it throws a lot at the audience at once while also including no proper introductions at all.

4. When Wedding Bells Thaw – A somewhat misconstructed look at Ice King’s insanity that results in making the entire episode feel messy.

3. Business Time – An episode that focuses more on Finn and Jake’s lazier sides, which sucks most of the energy out of our main duo and ends up being somewhat of a bore.

2. The Gut Grinder – A generic and predictable plot that AT seems above and a season finale that disappoints.

1. Memories of Boom Boom Mountain – An episode that focuses more on the absurdity and randomness in terms of humor, and one that feels especially misconceived and all over the place when it comes to story.

Final Consensus

Season one of Adventure Time certainly isn’t my favorite season of the show; it’s practically the series at its most basic form, with somewhat childish humor at times and much less lore or complex adventures that are seen in later seasons. However, I found myself really enjoying the first season when watching again, and just find it so interesting how much the series has drastically changed over the years.

So season one of Adventure Time may best the weakest of the bunch in my opinion, but it’s a totally fun ride down memory lane to see how these characters were and what they have become. And of course, it really does show the world through Finn’s perspective. It’s bright and colorful and very silly and zany because he’s only 12, which fits with the overall theme of growing up within AT.

This isn’t a season I plan on rewatching a lot, but I’m glad I got the opportunity to take a look at it once more and I hope all of you that haven’t consider giving it another look as well.