The show follows the adventures of Gumball (Logan Grove) and his brother Darwin (Kwesi Boakye), who get into various situations, most of which involve their imagination. They are watched over by their parents, Nicole (Teresa Gallagher) and Richard (Dan Russell), and frequently accompanied by their younger sister Anais (Kyla Rae Kowalewski). Style-wise, the show blends its 2D animated characters with photographic backgrounds, computer animation, and even what looks like puppetry and toys.
Visually, the show is a knockout. From the poppy opening credits, there's definitely a strong sense of imagination in the show's cast of characters, ranging from an angst, deep-voiced T-rex to a cheerleader peanut with moose antlers. Even when the show was not entertaining me with its stories or characters, it's a blast just to look at. I have no idea why there's a talking banana among the cast of characters here, but it's fun.
The show's stories are generally built around simple moral lessons, presumably aimed at kids. The first episode, for instance, "The DVD," has Gumball and Darwin trying to devise a plan to deal with a broken rental DVD and the "final notice" letters piling up over it. I'm not sure if creator Benjamin Bocquelet intends for "The Amazing World of Gumball" to be a learning experience, or if these kinds of storylines are just whatever the writers happen to find funny, but it's there for kids to pick up on it.
Personally, though, "funny" felt a little anemic here. The show's jokes are not particularly edgy or biting; it's probably fun for little kids, but won't do much for anyone else. Slapstick is a big aspect, but something about the simplicity of the characters themselves limits the fun -- the animation stays relatively simple, even when it's going exaggerated for a gag. Admittedly, the show gets a little funnier as this collection progresses -- the dance number at the end of "The Meddler," the set's final episode, put a smile on my face, so maybe that's all part of "Gumball" growing pains more than an intended tone.
Episodes: "The DVD," "The Third," "The End," "The Quest," "The Laziest," "The Gi," "The Refund," "The Picnic," "The Mustache," "The Wand," "The Curse," "The Meddler."
The Video and Audio
Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, which effectively captures the low-fi flute tones of the show's score and the bright, poppy dialogue. A little surround activity punctuates the slapstick from time to time, but this is a pretty straightforward aural presentation. English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing are also included.