Before I get into the rant that any "Adventure Time" fan knows is coming, the episodes on this disc might just be the best batch yet. The title episode, "Jake vs. Me-Mow," is a pretty perfect example of the average "Adventure Time" episode, in which Jake is tormented by a tiny cat assassin who hides in Jake's nasal passage and threatens to poison him unless Jake kills a princess. From the animation of Me-Mow's karate and stealth moves down to the voice casting for the character (played by child actor Kyla Rae Kowalewski), the episode not is not only funny, but develops its characters (with Finn's mom's lullaby) and shows off the show's musical side.
Many of the episodes on "Jake vs. Me-Mow" are newer episodes from Season 3 and 4, and some of them help illustrate the refinement of the show's formula as it continues. "Thank You" only features Finn and Jake as side characters in the story of a snow golem befriending a fire wolf cub. It's a sweet episode that easily communicates its message despite focusing on two characters who don't really speak English, and still gets in some great jokes with Finn and Jake to cap the episode off. Another emotional highlight in this set is "Dad's Dungeon," in which Finn and Jake try to make their way through a challenge designed by their father (although, I have to note that the episode "Memories of Boom Boom Mountain," which establishes that Jake's family adopted Finn as a baby, was only included in the Complete First Season DVD).
Other excellent episodes in this set include "Susan Strong," in which Finn discovers he may not be as alone as he thought (one of the episodes that heavily hints at the show's unexplained, eerie backstory), "Too Young," the finale to a three-episode arc that introduces The Earl of Lemongrab, "His Hero," with a cameo by Lou Ferrigno as a retired adventurer with a troubling warning for Finn and Jake, "Belly of the Beast," about a group of clueless party bears, and "Another Way," which is both wonderfully creative and funny once Finn storms off with his own agenda, but is one of the most bizarre and disturbing episodes of the show I've seen for the first five to ten minutes (read: clowns...lots of clowns).
Now, the obvious rant: after we finally got "The Complete First Season" just a few months ago, it feels dumber than usual to go back to another episode collection (in case you're unaware, I've written up a handy guide to how scattered these releases really are), especially one that includes episodes from Season One (I shudder to think that CN might hope fans will buy the whole series, out of order, via compilations). No amount of pack-in goodies is going to make me think random, single-disc episode collections is better than actual series sets, in both DVD and Blu-Ray. The film and television industry is as concerned about piracy as ever, and a surefire way to wear down people's resistance to pirating something is to insistently refuse to release it in the way most fans want to own it. That's also in addition to the fact that sampler releases are a double-edged sword: the studio releases collections, and fans won't buy the collections because they're waiting for the seasons. Then the studio doesn't release the season in Blu-Ray, so fans don't buy that either. If they do buy the samplers in the hopes of prompting a season release, the studio thinks they want the samplers. It's a no-win situation for everyone. The last sampler release, It Came From the Nightosphere, was at least accompanied by the promise of Season One. This one doesn't ride in on similar good news...will the fans revolt?
Episodes: "Jake vs. Me-Mow", "The Jiggler", "What is Life?", "His Hero", "Susan Strong", "Belly of the Beast", "Videomakers", "Mortal Folly", "Mortal Recoil", "Too Young", "Five Short Graybles", "Thank You", "Ocean of Fear", "Goliad", "Dad's Dungeon", "Another Way."
The Video and Audio
The disc opens with four trailers...all for "Adventure Time"! A terrible live-action promo for the fourth season, an equally terrible live-action promo for The Complete First Season, a questionable, partially live-action promo for "It Came From the Nightsophere," and a funny, musical promo for the original release, "My Two Favorite People."