The First Two Seasons of "Adventure Time" Finally Journey to the Land of BlOoo-ray Review

I said it before in my review of the Adventure Time episode anthology Fionna and Cake, and I'll say it again here: Few animated series today have the imagination and originality of Adventure Time with Finn & Jake. Pendleton Ward's creation is one of the few animated series of today that feels like a genuine descendent of the wacky and wild cartoon series of the 90s like Rocko's Modern Life, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, and others. While it still makes the occasional pop culture reference here and there, most of the stories and dialogue of Adventure Time closely resemble the kind of simple but strange rambling of kids playing pretend with one another. It's like a glimpse inside the imagination of a kid who imagines themselves to be a famed explorer where everything and anything can be anthropomorphized no idea is too crazy or absurd. The show has been doing this for five seasons, and now the first two are available in HD glory on Blu-ray.

The premise of Adventure Time is incredibly simple and thus the potential for expansion and elaboration is immense: the human boy Finn (Jeremy Shada) and his elastic, form-changing dog Jake (John DiMaggio) live in the Land of Ooo where Finn's girlfriend Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Welch) reigns and a number of oddities and strange things arise to cause trouble, mischief, or opportunities for adventure. As the first two seasons of Adventure Time, a little time is spent introducing characters that have recurring roles down the road like Marceline the Vampire Queen, the Ice King (Tom Kenny), Lady Rainicorn, and more.

Episodes often start with incredibly odd scenarios that then cascade into quests whose outcomes have seemingly no relation to solving the problem but do because it's fun and more imaginative that way. Trying to make sense of the non-sequitur way in which Adventure Time connects points of a story together will drive you insane, thus the only way to enjoy it is to embrace the silliness and let it wash over you. All you really need to know to understand Adventure Time is that anything at all is justification for an adventure. Sometimes it's as arbitrary as teddy bears living in the belly of a monster need rescuing or previously unseen knights are making fun of Finn who thinks he can earn their respect with a quest, but whatever the case it almost always goes to trippy, surreal places.

The animation style of Adventure Time is one of bold dark lines with rich explosive colors, making it a prime candidate for Blu-ray as 2D animation in HD gets a noticeable boost. That Cartoon Network is choosing to make the Blu-ray jump with full season sets instead of sampler or anthology sets is a good sign they're not out to milk fans for all the money they can. Blu-ray season sets are the ideal release for a show like this and the creative box art makes it all the sweeter.

This is the set that fans of the series and parents should buy. Skip the DVD releases. These are the Adventure Time releases worth buying.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

The first season has more extras than the second, though it's the second season set that's likely the one which will set the trend for what you should expect from future season releases. On the first set you have audio commentaries on every episode (most of which are pretty amusing), and then you have some basic animatics to see how certain scenes evolved along with three featurettes that reflect the show's odd playfulness. Along with the standard behind-the-scenes featurette you have a behind-the-behind-the-scenes featurette which is like a weird outtake reel with a guy in a motion capture suit, and finally a piece on the show's music. By contrast, the second season only has audio commentaries and a little featurette where series creator Pendleton Ward interviews the talented folks who bring Adventure Time to life.

"Adventure Time: Seasons 1 & 2" is on sale June 4, 2013 and is not rated. Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Fantasy. Directed by Larry Leichliter. Written by Pendleton Ward, Patrick McHale, Kent Osborne. Starring Hynden Walch, Jeremy Shada, John DiMaggio, Tom Kenny.

Jun
08
2013
Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.

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