Pendleton Ward's brainchild Adventure Time defies simple description - think of it instead as a Pandora app for your imagination. The magnificent flights of whimsy the show revels in are refreshingly unselfconscious, devoid of sarcasm and so sincere it may throttle you back into your childhood, where all things were new and a scoff was an unfamiliar sound. Is this writer laying it on thick? Maybe so, but It Came From the Nightosphere, a mixtape of episodes, some bearing very satisfying links, is a perfect introduction to the unbound world of Finn (Jeremy Shada) and Jake (John DiMaggio), a dynamic human boy and an infinitely elastic dog.
My colleague Tyler Foster, who provided a terrific review of this DVD, awarded It Came From the Nightosphere a Rent It due to the fact that full season sets are on the way. This writer is tempted to agree, but with a single caveat - now that the first season is due out July 10th and retailing for under $20, picking up this set for a few dollars is advisable for freshies. It will likely drop in price down to a few dollars and this collection of episodes may be par the course to get to know Adventure Time better.
The episodes featured here - "It Came From the Nightosphere," "Rainy Day Daydream," "Wizard," "Power Animal," "The Enchiridion!," "Slumber Party Panic," "The Real You," "Memory of a Memory," "Prisoners of Love," "Crystals Have Power," "Business Time," "Mystery Train," "Guardians of Sunshine," "The Monster," "Hitman," and "The Creeps" - are a very strong introduction to the show's severely funny and smart sense of humor and the amount of imagination on display. A personal favorite is "Rainy Day Daydream," taking place entirely within the confines of Finn and Jake's stately home (a treehouse on fantasy steroids). Stuck inside because of a knife storm (exactly how it sounds), Jake elects to use his imagination and spice things up a bit - but when his imagination takes hold of the real world, Finn must pass many a trial to get to an imaginary switch and turn Jake's imagination off before it destroys them both. It's a perfect example of why and how the show words - it frequently follows a linear plot, as it does in "Rainy Day Daydream," but at the same time allows for all kinds of odd musings, asides and throwaway gags that shame lesser shows.
What has particularly lasting power is the world of Ooo, which is inhabited by all varieties of creatures while bearing unsettling evidence of a world that once was - a world that resembles our own quite a bit. It's a nice touch and adds a kind of gravity to the show, but Finn and Jake alone are emotional anchors that are immensely easy to root for. They are hardly complex but they are also not paragons of justice and good, but rather an energetic child and a dog prone to non-sequiturs and a very short attention span. The adventures presented in this collection occasionally develop their personalities further but rarely feature a moral quandary followed by a customary lesson. Instead, you can laugh frequently and occasionally sigh and scratch your head when Adventure Time touches on something requiring more than a guffaw.
Having viewed the DVD on both an HDTV and a standard set, the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is nothing to complain about. The animation is striking and colors are bright and while there is evidence of aliasing, it's minor and does not detract from the viewing experience.
A Dolby Digital 2.0 is something, but like Tyler, I have to agree that the show calls for a robust, involving mix. Perhaps the upcoming full season DVDs will address this.
A few slides on character backgrounds do disappoint as far as extras go.
Adventure Time is very easy to like, and equally easy to get into it. Give it a shot, it's one of the few shows where once you sink into it, it feels like a find from your childhood you never outgrew. A gem. Recommended.
The best of the five boroughs is now represented. Brooklyn in the house! I'm a hardworking film writer, blogger, boyfriend and hopeful Corgi owner. Find me on Twitter @markzhur and on Tumblr at Our Elaborate Plans...