Adventure Time season 1 DVD review

Adventure Time’s tremendous first season has finally come out in the UK. Here’s why that news is worth celebrating…

Of all the available methods of recapturing your childhood, watching Adventure Time is surely the least ungainly and the most fun. Cosier than a onesie, less tiring than a bouncy castle, and better for your teeth than a bag of Haribo, Pendleton Ward’s animated fantasy series pulls you through a portal to the days of running home from school, sitting cross-legged inches from the TV, and being thoroughly delighted by a cartoon.

Except, we never had anything quite this delightful or barking mad when we were children; or if we did, it lost its shine in the cold, hard light of adulthood. Adventure Time is a programme adults can watch with kids and as kids (just as well now that we’re all old enough to be in on the secret that no-one actually grows up, their body merely slackens while their brain races stupidly on much as it ever did).

Set in the Land of Ooo, Adventure Time’s heroes are Jake the dog and Finn the human, devoted friends and pure-hearted questers who shape-shift and pummel their way through capers with… well, you name it, they’ve had an adventure with it. Ice Kings, rainbow-shaped unicorns, Vampire Queens, sentient peppermints, Princesses of every ilk from Embryo to Lumpy Space fill up just a few episodes. This first season runs to twenty-six short episodes, each one peopled by a cast of bewilderingly imaginative (and sometimes just bewildering) characters and scenarios.

Any attempt to describe those situations and characters in black and white without Adventure Time’s gumball colours and off-beat humour would be folly. Once you’d climbed out of the rabbit-hole of comparisons to Yellow Submarine, Studio Ghibli and Ren and Stimpy, you’d still be miles off pinning down quite what a silly and surprising show this is.

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Delivered in eleven minute bursts, the episodes are intense shots of the bizarre and the arbitrary. John DiMaggio (also the voice of Futurama’s Bender) voices Jake as a hippy relic, The Big Lebowski’s Dude distilled into a yellow shape-shifting mutt. Jeremy Shada is Finn, a Dungeons & Dragons hero in the body of a Junior High School kid who plays Dungeons & Dragons.

The style is deliberately naïve and the dialogue often juvenile, but give it half an hour of your time, and chances are it’ll tickle you. Give it longer than that, and the same chance says you’ll be a devotee of its off-kilter, unpredictably dark and whimsical world before too long.

If you’re already one of Adventure Time’s many fans, you won’t need convincing. All the information you’ll need is that after a long wait (and I mean long – it’s already on its fifth season in the US), the most creative cartoon around today is finally available on Region 2 DVD. No, not on Blu-Ray, not yet anyway, and without any fancy packaging or behind-the-scenes extras, which is something of a pity. No-one can balk at what is included though: 284 minutes of anarchic, heroic action and laughs.


Sadly, there don’t appear to be any in the UK version.

Adventure Time season one is out now on DVD in the UK.

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4 out of 5