If the first season surreptitiously felt out a format and style for the show while establishing the Land of Ooo and the cast of characters, the second season has a ton of fun exploring and expanding on everything that they've set up. Most of these 26 new episodes use the same places and people in the show's universe that have already been established, yet somehow these episodes don't lose an ounce of the creativity and invention that makes "Adventure Time" special. At the very end of the season, the writers even dip their toes into their first bit of long-form storytelling, adding yet another weapon to the show's already extensive arsenal of tricks.
Several of these episodes appeared on previous collection DVDs, but taken as a whole, this batch ranks among the show's best. "Power Animal", in which shapeshifting Jake the Dog (John DiMaggio) is forced to overcome his short attention span to rescue his eternal pal, 11-year-old Finn the Human (Jeremy Shada), is a pretty perfect example of the show's sharp timing and invention, leaping from ground level to a cloud party to an underground gnome cave within 12 hilarious minutes. "Death in Bloom" features Miguel Ferrer as Death, who Finn and Jake must confront in order to rescue the soul of a plant they've been assigned to take care of. The show's vision of the underworld is hilarious in and of itself, but if "Miguel Ferrer as Death" isn't a perfect four-word tease pitch for the show's genius, I don't know what is. "Crystals Have Power" veers into the show's weirder territory (it's hard to describe, other than to say the episode has some of the show's all-time funniest Jake animation), whereas "The Pods" has one of the show's cutest antagonists. Although there are only a couple of episodes that are exclusive to this new season set, there's at least one classic among them, as well. "Her Parents" finds Jake stressing about his lunch with his girlfriend, Lady Rainicorn (Niki Yang) and her parents (Henry Rollins and Laura Silverman). To try and break the ice, he sets up a pre-lunch hang-out session without Lady, but his plan involves a series of lies that Finn isn't thrilled with.
There are plenty of shows that take the same kitchen-sink approach to comedy as "Adventure Time", but few fuse all the elements together as well as Ward and his team manage to, episode after episode. Although the show could be conservatively called "hyperactive," the writers and animators know when simplicity will do more than exaggeration, scoring huge laughs with something as simple as eyes opening ("The Silent King") or an extra beat of silence. Plus, most episodes offer simple, sweet messages mixed in with the wild comedy, about being yourself ("Slow Love"), dealing with frustrating parents ("It Came From the Nightosphere"), fighting with your friends ("Videomakers") -- all sorts of great lessons for the younger audiences who love the show. It almost seems too much to think that a show this visually dazzling, infectiously funny, and generally charming (the songs, often written by creator Pendleton Ward himself, are always a highlight) could be educational as well, but "Adventure Time" hits all the bases with energy to spare. So many of these Season Two episodes fire on all cylinders that it's hard to believe the show actually continues to get even more inspired and creative in future seasons, but "Mortal Folly" and "Mortal Recoil" only represent the beginning of the show's journey into direct serialization -- a tantalizing taste of what's to come.
Episodes included in this release are as follows: "Loyalty to the King", "Blood Under the Skin", "It Came From the Nightosphere", "The Eyes", "Storytelling", "Slow Love", "Power Animal", "Crystals Have Power", "Her Parents", "To Cut a Woman's Hair", "The Chamber of Frozen Blades", "The Other Tarts", "The Pods", "The Silent King", "The Real You", "Guardians of Sunshine", "Death in Bloom", "Susan Strong", "Mystery Train", "Go With Me", "Belly of the Beast", "The Limit", "Videomakers", "Heat Signature", "Mortal Folly", and "Mortal Recoil".
The Video and Audio
There is also one video extra: "The Crew of 'Adventure Time', Interviewed By Pendleton Ward" (6:16, HD). This low-fi extra is shot in Pendleton Ward's office. Fans will appreciate the chance to connect a few names from the commentary tracks to faces, enjoy some unreasonably funny caption humor, and watch pretty much the entire staff look at some unseen, punishingly loud fart comedy video on Ward's computer (this takes up roughly half of the extra).
Promos for "Adventure Time": The Complete First Season, "Adventure Time" (new episodes), "Regular Show": The Best DVD in the World* *At This Moment in Time, "The Amazing World of Gumball": The Mystery play before the main menu.