Debuting in early 2010, Cartoon Network's "Adventure Time" has in the short span of four years managed to create a mini-empire, amassing five complete seasons totaling 156, 11-minute episodes focused on the adventures and misadventures of Finn the Human and his magic dog Jake. With a heavily established fan base that has followed the show from its TV origins to greater adventures on the comic book page, even to the inevitable video game and more recent card game (a genuinely brilliant piece of meta-marketing based on the "Card Wars" episode), it's more than a bit head scratching that only three complete seasons have seen release on DVD, with a wide bevy of compilation discs complete with incoherently chosen episodes often making up much of the retail market. Such is the case with "The Suitor," the sixth volume of standalone releases from Cartoon Network that one would logically think and hope to contain all new episodes.
Sadly, "The Suitor" is a head-shaking mish-mash release that instead of rewarding loyal "Adventure Time" fans insults them with an incomprehensible random and repetitious listing of episodes. Considering the first three seasons have all been released on their own as well as similar compilation releases beforehand, at minimum, one would expect "The Suitor" to contain episodes from seasons four and five, given full season sets are still yet unannounced. Instead, "The Suitor" with its meager smattering of 16-epiosdes chooses to dump four previously released episodes from the first three seasons in the form of "Morituri Te Salutamus," "Heat Signature," "Blood Under the Skin," and "Henchman." Naturally the overall quality of the episodes is not in question, but the blatant disregard for fans by selling them 25% of something they likely already own to get just a small handful of episodes they don't own is blatantly disrespectful to the fan base.
Frustration behind very questionable marketing aside, "The Suitor" offers nearly three hours of honest to goodness, fun, quality entertainment. Highlights include "Shh!" an episode that stretches the constraints of the brief runtime to the limits offering on the surface a simple tale of Finn and Jake driving BMO crazy by playing a version of the "quiet game." Viewers looking deeper are going to find a very subtle, sly commentary on alienation and friendship, something that long time "Adventure Time" fans will be familiar with from a smattering of previous series episodes. Other episodes such as "Wizards Only, Fools," seem to offer up a clever spin on the controversial topic of faith based healing; don't get me wrong though, "Adventure Time" is far from heavy handed, but that doesn't stop the writers from interjecting some earnest thought and social commentary in a very well-crafted show that time-and-time again, manages to entertain throughout.
In the end, "The Suitor" will most likely leave "Adventure Time" fans wanting a lot more. All in all, seasons four and five consist of 78 episodes and "The Suitor" offers a mere 12; in other words, 15% of what hasn't been released in standalone season sets. The ultimate lack of coherence in the episodes offered, especially sticking the season one through three offerings at the end of the disc, make for some occasionally muddled viewing. Yes, there are a lot of laughs to be had, and at times the brain gets a workout looking for more depth, but only the youngest "Adventure Time" fans are going to find this a truly satisfying release; everyone else is merely getting their appetite whetted at the expense of an ultimately pointless release.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer features vibrant, vivid colors and incredibly strong detail free of obnoxious artifacting. The wonderful, minimalist, yet eye-catching animation pops on the screen and makes the whimsical world of Finn and Jake brim with life. The only downside is the occasional bit of minor aliasing present throughout.
The Dolby Digital English 2.0 audio is a tad underwhelming, but overall the sound mix is balanced and serves the nature of the show reasonably well. English SDH subtitles are included.
A short character gallery titled "Little Did You Know" is the lone extra.
While the episodes chosen for "The Suitor" don't have any real chronological flow, their undeniable quality rings true. There's nothing really resembling a dud across the sixteen episodes offered; coupled with a quality A/V presentation and on paper, this should be a must buy. Sadly, if the random episode choice isn't frustrating enough, a quarter of the disc's runtime is made up of episodes all previously released and for that reason alone, I advise fans to stay away and wait for the complete fourth and fifth season releases. Skip It.