Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Adventure Time: Frost and Fire DVD Reviewed

Cartoon Network has always been a wild card in the field of animation. When the lunatics at Adult Swim roll out a new live action series, we know it's going to be fairly insane without even having to see a trailer. That's just what they do. When it's a new animated project, there's a 50/50 chance you'll get head scratching ridiculousness or borderline brilliance. The shows that come to Cartoon Network's daytime lineup can also go either way, and if given the chance, may even evolve in maturity and tone. Adventure Time is one such amazing creation.

After continually being surprised by hysterical and somewhat adult moments found in random episodes, I interviewed the creators of Adventure Time and asked who they thought the show was for, . The answer was "It's for us!" This idealistic/ artistic view would somewhat give way as millions of children across the globe latched onto the show, hungry for all the merchandising that comes with a hit TV series. While the show didn't get dumbed-down, it was certainly made a few degrees safer for little eyes.

Today, as mainstream interest in the show seemingly shifts back to an older crowd, the content in each episode has swung back to random and somewhat more adult humor, riddled with philosophical musings and drama far deeper than your average CW prime time TV show. The DVD collection "Frost And Fire" is a perfect reflection of this swing with episodes that will make you laugh unexpectedly, question your life choices and maybe even cause a lil tear to well up in those puppy dog eyes. Let's run down the highlights of this set...

- Frost and Fire / Earth and Water: An interesting and absolutely original twist in the evolution of "cartoon relationships"! Themes and visuals lean sneakily into the "adult" realm by showing things you KNOW are meant to mean a specific thing but not touching on their meaning AT ALL. ..And this is fine, cuz I'm a grown ass man...but your kids might have questions afterward...the kind you don't want discussed til they are at least 11. Things get deep, bordering on the metaphysical and it seems like both Finn and the Flame Princess take plenty of time to examine themselves and their role in the world...which for Finn constitutes mere seconds ..because..little boy. You also get a heaping helping of Cinnamon Bun (and the oddball hilarity that comes with him) and further clues that Bubblegum Princess is an old school creeper. Like..really old.

- Jake The Brick: My favorite new episode of all time. Jake decides it's time to fulfill his life long dream of being a brick in a shack about to collapse. As boredom sets in, he begins to narrate his surroundings nature channel style, inadvertently providing radio programming for anyone in listening distance. It's all incredibly sweet and astoundingly beautiful. And it's Adventure Time, so this surprises no one.

- James: Fans of "The Brak Show" rejoice! Voice actor Andy Merrill voices the eccentric James as an eternally upbeat ..sort of ice cream sandwich man...who has a predilection for accompanying movements with robot noises like the evil programmer guy from "Grandma's Boy". What's not to love! James joins Finn, Jake and Bubblegum Princess on a research expedition when toxic monsters attack, putting the team in peril. This one has endearing oddball humor and a serious sweetness overall, coupled with the abrupt, unexpected comedy the show is known for.

- Thanks for the Crabapples, Giuseppe: Team the ice King with a bunch of the dorkiest wizards in Ooo and send them on a field trip to create a new form of magic..and the story practically writes itself. It's effortless. This is the perfect mix of comedy/oddness/sweetness that constantly urges me to sit people down to watch my favorite cartoon with me. Warning: the ending might make you tear up a little bit!

Frustrating for die hard fans, this is another "collection" and not a full season release, so the new episodes are few, with some (like Return to the Nightosphere, Freak City, Memories of Boom Boom Mountain and Apple Thief) feeling downright ancient. Cartoon Network is only up to Season 4 in their full season DVD releases, while the show is barreling through season 6. CN could justify this 16 random episode release if they had stuck to a specific theme...or included some sort of extra pack in...or added some bonus features you can't see anywhere else..but nope. Just 16 random episodes. If you aren't a die hard fan and just wanted to gift a friend some episodes of a weird show some folks told you about, these might be the sets you go for..but for everyone else following the actual story line...watching things out of sequence is MADDENING.

On the plus side, Amazon has this set for $11.99..and that's a steal and a half.

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