Apr 16, 2015

[TV] Adventure Time: Season 3

It's not easy to do season-by-season reviews for an animated series like Adventure Time given how random a lot of the episodes feel. But that's only if you look at things on the surface and over time you'll find some pretty fulfilling story concepts and plot twists woven into the overall narrative. Each individual season may not have a strong theme that ties into every episode, but you do see a steady progression of character development as each episode adds to the overall narrative framework.

At the very least, the show remains a lot of fun and each new adventure provides more opportunities for the different characters to really shine and be themselves. And I really appreciate this balance that the show manages to maintain. The overall plot and the continued development of the character stories are equally important and managing to achieve both says a lot about the creative team behind the show.

And while I don't think there were as many stand out episodes in this season, we still had a lot of fun. It had key moments, but it also had significant reveals about different characters that really affected the path of the show in future seasons.

Synopsis: Adventure Time is an animated television series created by Pendleton Ward and airs on Cartoon Network. Several episodes in this season were nominated for awards including "Too Young" and "Thank You".

The second season ended with the introduction of Flame Princess (Jessica Dicicco) as a potential romantic interest for Finn (Jeremy Shada). And the rest of the season though works on the relationships between Finn, Jake (John DiMaggio), Princess Bubblegum (Isabella Acres), and Marceline (Olivia Olson) as a group of friends or maybe colleagues, depending on the situation. And of course there's still a lot of opportunities to meet more crazy characters in the land of Ooo.

"Memory of a Memory" was an interesting exploration of Marceline's past in an almost Inception-like manner as Finn and Jake explore her sleeping mind. But you really have to pay attention to "Too Young" as an interesting discussion of Princess Bubblegum's right to rule and her loss of perceived age after the events in "Mortal Recoil" in Season 2. And then you have the very strange episode "Still" that has Finn and Jake paralyzed by the Ice King (Tom Kenny), who only wants to use this opportunity to hang out with them. He's really evolved to be more of a sad crazy man as opposed to a true villain in the show. And I really enjoyed "The Creeps" which was a brilliant murder mystery story that was pretty captivating, quite frankly.

But this season is most notable for the episode "Fionna and Cake" that had been based on sketches made by storyboard revisionist Natasha Allegri. These gender-swapped versions of the various characters of Adventure Time initially felt like the usual fan-fiction sort of fluff we see on sites like Tumblr. But then Pendleton Ward like the designs enough to incorporate them into the show as canon, which isn't something that happens very often in the entertainment industry. They've gone on to be some of the most popular characters from the show and I know a lot of folks want to see this gender-swapped kingdom eventually interact with our heroes of Ooo.

And then we come to "Thank You" which is a largely wordless episode that doesn't even feature our primary cast of Finn and Jake. Instead it's a standalone story of a Firewolf pup who gets lost in the mountains and is rescued by a Snow Golem. How these creatures of opposing elements manage to get along without accidentally destroying one another is what the episode covers in a most beautiful way. This episode remains to be one of the best examples of the sort of excellent storytelling that we need to see more of on television or even in movies.

I guess what helps make the show so fulfilling is how the sheer randomness of things seems crazy and yet you're still going to find meaning in each story over time. And it's not exactly trying to beat you over the head with a moral for the episode or even some big message of some sort. Instead we have all these little vignettes that may or may not appeal to one viewer or another. The sheer diversity of story styles really drives things forward for the show.

Adventure Time remains to be a favorite for me and Tobie and the show continues to get better and better. The show continues to grow and with it the potential for telling more and more compelling stories. Thus the season gets 4 cute little Cuties trying to conquer Ooo out of a possible 5.

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