Wednesday, August 22, 2012

: Good Thing #37: Adventure Time

As an impending dad I'm getting new perspectives on things. It used to be I'd just watch a show and like it or not. Now there's new categories. There's "I'll have to wait until my daughter is asleep to watch this," and "I hope my daughter is never into this," and "I can't wait until my daughter is old enough to watch this."

Falling firmly into that last category is Adventure Time. Adventure Time is into it's 4th season on the Cartoon Network. It follows the adventures of Jake the Dog, who can stretch any part of his body into any shape he needs it to be, and his adopted brother Finn the Human, who is apparently the last human on earth. Humanity was wiped out long ago during the Mushroom Wars. Since then magic has come into the world, and there are many anthropomorphic beings ruled (mostly) by princesses. There's the Bubblegum Princess, who rules the Candy Kingdom who's citizens are living candy. There's the Lumpy Space Princess, who comes from Lumpy Space, an alternate universe where everyone is lumpy and talks like valley girls. Abraham Lincoln is alive and is the ruler of Mars. These are just a few notes of the elaborate mythology of the show. But a wonderful thing about the show is it doesn't get bogged down in its mythology. Like the best cartoons, it works for both adults and kids simultaneously. The fact that it's set in a post-apocalyptic world is there for the grownups to pick up on if they're paying attention, but kids probably won't even notice. They're going to be enjoying the wonderful and strange adventures that Finn and Jake are having.

It doesn't stop at being just a show that kids and grownups can watch. There's another whole level of encoded messages within the adult content that only certain people will pick up on. There are themes from Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, Jack Kirby's Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth, and the movie A Boy and his Dog, and even Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. But it's all so deftly handled that if you don't get it, you're not left out and it doesn't distract from the story. It's all there as a special treat if you get the reference, but it's still fun if you don't.

It's currently my favorite thing on TV, and I'm looking forward to introducing my daughter to it, when she's old enough. 

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