Monday, December 22, 2014

Cartoon Review: Over the Garden Wall

I give up, there is no way to watch this series legally online unless you're in a very specific situation. io9 has the full first episode streaming legally and the Cartoon Network website has the entire series, but unless you can log in with your cable subscriber information (and only from certain providers) you can only watch clips, that is total bullcrap and thus I pirated episodes two through ten. Clearly I didn't have to do this, I could've waited until this eventually popped up on DVD and hoped that my library would have it, hoped that it streamed on Netflix, or tried to arrange my entire free time schedule around re-airings of the show on tv but none of these are good solutions either. This has nothing to do with the show itself but I am very, very frustrated with how much harder it is for me to find American-made television legally online than it is to find anything else online, that's just dumb!

Over the Garden Wall

Wirt and Greg are two brothers lost in the woods, they don't know how to get home and it seems like the woods are more interested in distracting and trapping them than letting them get away.

This seems to have been an experiment in format (it's ten, 11 minute episodes with a set ending and really should be watched in order) but even if I hadn't known it was from Cartoon Network I would have realized within the first episode since it is truly in their "style". In some sense it's weird to describe a channel as having a style, we tend to think of American channels as being more of broad, broadcasting platforms even though they've much closer to being media producers/aggregators but when I was growing up there were three channels for kids (Nickelodeon, Disney, and Cartoon Network) and this would have never fit with the kinds of shows Nick or Disney put out. CN has always liked the most absurd, the most out there shows and this show was created by one of the higher-up Adventure Time staff which is one of their most out there shows. It's connected more by characters (and lightly themes) than plot and the musical numbers reminded me a lot of what I saw of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy and unfortunately for this show, I never liked that style and it still doesn't click with me today.

I will say that this is one of the rare shows where, even though I didn't like it, I can't deny that it was well-put together and I think it accomplished everything it set out to do. The pacing was even, the characterization consistent and growth subtly stated, the reoccurring plot points were all brought up at the proper points, and it's themes were very consistent, I can see why people liked the show! However, I prefer a show with fewer nonsensical bits (I think one entire episode was a huge parody of Babes in Toyland, when Dorothy lands in The Wizard of Oz, and probably specific 1980s cartoons that I'm not familiar with) and more of a continuous plot, my favorite parts of the show was when a character would casually drop a really important detail and watching the other characters react to it. The Idea Channel did an interesting video asking if OTGW was all about faith which I watched after the series but saw the title of before I did so I was thinking about that as I watched the show; ultimately I disagree that it was entirely or even mostly about faith but really did like the bit about the knights of faith and infinite resignation since I can easily that exemplified in the show (and had never come across the idea before but I can also immediately see it in other works I've read, wish that had come up in my English classes!). It's a solid show, and shorter than many movies this year, so if you want something which is both very strange and thoughtful, absurd and almost human, give it a shot.

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