Get Some Fuel For Your Imagination with "Adventure Time" Review

No animated show on television is as creative in 22-minutes as Adventure Time squeezes into each 11-minute episode. That’s a fact. Adventure Time oozes with creative ambition, sometimes in the form of actual animated ooze, and it’s presented in one of the most vivid and colorful shows you’ll likely ever see. It’s a sight to behold. Even when an episode doesn’t quite live up to the bar set by the typically excellent series, there’s usually something special to admire about the story or the detail or the message that comes out of it. This is a show that bucks that idea that watching television will likely rot the imagination of children, because if anything the rampantly strange but wondrous happenings of Adventure Time will get your child thinking of fantastical worlds in their own head and foster desire for interest in some of the random educational subjects the episodes tend to touch on.

The third season of Adventure Time continues the impressively coherent narrative started in the first two seasons and never shies away from going to some bold places for story ideas that lead to some unexpectedly and emotionally honest moments not normally found in a cartoon. It’s a hard balance to get right, especially when so many of the show’s other elements are unabashedly silly and fantastical, but when the writers want to touch on a theme of betrayal or loss the results are always heartfelt and deliver in a way that only adds to the legacy of Adventure Time as more than just a whimsical cartoon. That layer of thematic complexity helps to make Finn the human and Jake the dog’s adventures against evil cuteness, arena ghost combatants, an accidentally hired hitman, forced friendship with the Ice King, conflicting tastes in music, a murder mystery birthday party, candy zombies, blackmail from a cat living inside Jake’s nose, the invasion of other people’s privacy, and unrequited love for Princess Bubblegum.

Equally as notable as the show’s thematic depth in the third season is the introduction of a delightful alternate reality where all of the characters are of the opposite gender, with our two heroes now being Fionna the human and Cake the cat. It’s a really unexpected turn for a cartoon aimed at children to take, especially when you consider you see nothing of Finn or Jake at all in the episode and thus kids could potentially become confused by the sudden and unexplained shift. And yet, it’s a really interesting exercise for a kid’s cartoon to just completely shake up its established universe and try to get kids to relate to something that’s similar to what they know and yet very different. It’s as if Adventure Time tries to broaden children’s interests or improve their ability to grasp abstract concepts by making them take a slight leap in logic that’s neither too far to be disorienting nor too small to be just another basic episode.

Adventure Time is as good a cartoon as any that a parent could ask for in searching for a program for their kids to watch. It’s highly imaginative and it simultaneously embraces conventional tropes (like adventures, kingdoms, battles, magic, and more) while challenging the far too easy archetypes of damsel in distress princesses (with Princess Bubblegum who’s a scientist capable of kicking ass when need be), friendship as an easy bond without conflict, and bad guys as irredeemable sods who must always lose in order for there to be a happy ending. Adventure Time breaks down traditional cartoon ideals and then rebuilds them into something exciting and fresh that both kids and adults can enjoy.

Why wouldn’t you want to watch that?

Blu-ray Bonus Features

Audio commentaries, an alternate title sequence, and a walk through of an episode from conception to animation are the sets only extras. On a fun sidenote, the insert sheet includes arms and legs kids (or adults) can cut out and paste to the dust cover to complement the BMO dustcover.

"Adventure Time: The Complete Third Season" is on sale February 25, 2014 and is not rated. Adventure, Animation, Children & Family, Comedy. Directed by Larry Leichliter. Written by Pendleton Ward, Kent Osborne, Patrick McHale. Starring Hynden Walch, Jeremy Shada, Joe Dimaggio, Tom Kenny.

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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