Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cartoon Review: Over the Garden Wall "The Old Grist Mill / Hard Times at the Huskin' Bee"

When I first began seeing commercials for "Over the Garden Wall" on Cartoon Network all I could think of was the old saying, "Show me where and I will sign", as I was willing to watch this even if it was on way past my bed time because it just looked that good.   I must admit though that I was a little disappointed to learn that it was going to be a five part mini-series because it seemed like it could be a full on series.    I'm not going to rule out the idea of this turning into an eventual series though until after I've seen all of the episodes, so there's that.

The story of "Over the Garden Wall" is somewhat random, as it begins with two brothers who are walking in the woods and get lost.   Where did they come from and how did they manage to get lost exactly isn't as well established as the fact that they're trying to get home, wherever that is.    The younger of the two brothers has a pet frog and is funny in his simplicity while the older is more rational and voiced by Elijah Wood.    There is a level of humor to this, but it also ventures into fantasy as a talking bird appears in the very first episode.

As the two boys begin trying to find their way they encounter a strange old man who is voiced by none other than the legendary Christopher Lloyd.   If you've ever needed an indication that a show was about to start off in the most amazing way possible then you really just need to hear the voice of Christopher Lloyd and you'll feel right at ease.    This leads to a small battle with what the boys believe to be a beast but in fact is not the beast that the man referred to, so that's still out there waiting to eat them or whatever.

This show was created by Patrick McHale, who has ties to "Adventure Time", so it is somewhat hard to deny the comparisons but the fact is that the shows only really compare in the way that they are both original and set in their own worlds with a mix of seriousness, comedy and pure randomness.

In the second episode the boys take the bird along with them and meet a village of skeletons dressed up as pumpkins.   I kid you not.   This has that Halloween spooky feeling to it, but at the same time I would feel the exact same way if I was watching this in the middle of summer or dead of winter.    It just creates an entire feeling rather than just being words and images and that is perhaps one of the hardest qualities for any show- animated or not- to accomplish.

Even if the stories are too weird for you there is no denying the visual effects in terms of animation are simply stellar.    I never though the simple sight of a leaf falling could be so beautifully translated to animation but you will find that and so much more in this series.    It is brilliant, wildly unique and an overall visual masterpiece.     I read up on this series after watching this first episode and found it would be a comic book and it makes perfect sense (and yes, I will be all over that as well)

Cartoon Network has been on a good run of original shows lately.   "Adventure Time", "Regular Show" and "Clarence" are my favorites and some of the only new cartoons that I watch.   I haven't actually watched a full episode of "Steven Universe" yet (I know, I know) and while my son loves "Teen Titans Go!", I keep finding myself watching "Uncle Grandpa" no matter how stupid I feel it to be.    "Over the Garden Wall" is definitely in a class all of its own and I will be watching this without interruption for the rest of this week.

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