Friday Flix: Adventure Time

friday flix jae scribblesWhat time is it? Adventure Time! Not that I need to convince many of you to watch Adventure Time. But since I got the first season on DVD and it’s what I’ve been watching, here we go.

I remember way back in the day when Adventure Time was nothing more than a sample Nicktoon of 7 minutes or so. Yep, that’s right, Adventure Time was originally a Nickelodeon product. But because the execs at Nick were a bunch of patoots and couldn’t see the potential in the short, it was Cartoon Network that gobbled the goodness up.

And is anyone really surprised it’s Cartoon Network that took a chance on Adventure Time? If there’s one thing I really miss not having cable, it’s the Food Network. But an almost tie would have to be Cartoon Network. Shoot, I remember when CN was just a fledgling network too. Good times…

Anyway, back to Adventure Time. What is it about? From IMDB.com

A human boy and his brother – a magical dog – set out to become righteous adventurers in the Land of Ooo.

To be honest, this show is very absurdist in its approach to plot—a bit like the Simpsons. But having been a film school kiddie, the thing is you start to feel like you’ve seen everything, so something like Adventure Time comes as a breath of fresh air. I like the absurdism because life generally doesn’t make much sense either, at least while you’re in the middle of living it.

To give you another reference, it’s kind of like the kiddie version of Napoleon Dynamite style humor. Stuff just happens, often in strange or unexpected ways. Of course for Finn and Jake, it’s far more adventurous.

A SHOW ABOUT NOTHING

It’s not the first time we’ve seen a show about “nothing” so to speak. Can you tell me what exactly Seinfeld is about other than the random lives of four friends?

So what is it about Adventure Time that makes it work? I think each episode has its main plot, but what keeps me coming back is clever writing coupled with lots of subplots. Will Finn and Bubblegum ever become boyfriend and girlfriend? Will we get to know about Finn’s and Jake’s origins? What about the Ice King? Will he ever find a lady? And so on and so on.

It probably works well for our more ADD society too. I think of the show Chuck, too, the plot of which I thought was mediocre, but mostly I watched it for pop culture references and to see what trouble Chuck and his pal Morgan got into. It’s non-traditional story telling in some ways, but since we’re a society currently saturated in story, it seems only natural these kinds of stories would surface.

DOES IT WORK IN NOVEL WRITING?

Good question. I think a novel of this sort would be tougher to write than a show or movie. Although it may tend to go more existential when it comes to novels (this isn’t a novel, but I tend to think of Waiting for Godot.) What do you all think? Could a story structure similar to Adventure Time work in novel form? I’m thinking maybe if it was a set of novellas. I think it could certainly work for comics and graphic novels.

WHY WATCH IT AT ALL?

I always go back to a quote by Ray Bradbury I’ve posted a few times before, and because I love it, here it is again:

If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape.

Watch and read things a little outside of your comfort zone if only to fill up your Old Faithful. We may never write an Adventure Time-like story, but it provides inspiration in ways we don’t expect.

And it’s a lot of fun.

DVD COVER ART

I always appreciate good cover art and design. Take a look at what you get with this purchase.

adventure time dvd

I love how as you sort of peel back each layer you get deeper and deeper inside. Hilarious!

Also included on the DVD is the “music video” with live action people doing an Adventure Time rumble, and a couple other featurettes. It’s a shame the original pilot wasn’t included on the disc (which you should watch. Finn was Penn and the Rainicorn didn’t speak Korean back then). I’m sure Nickelodeon is holding onto the rights like a big patoot.

CONCLUSION

Why do I like Adventure Time? There’s a lot of humor in the writing. I like that it’s random and it doesn’t always have to make sense. I really like the characters and think they’re well written. And, for me, it’s something more unique than what I’ve seen which is refreshing. I recommend it, even if only for the sake of inspiration.

What do you think? Do you like Adventure Time? Do you think an Adventure Time-like novel works? Have you read any novels structured like that but really work? Or maybe failed miserably? Or do you hate this kind of story telling? Tell me your thoughts below.

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23 thoughts on “Friday Flix: Adventure Time

  1. An Adventure Time novel? Hmmm… Each chapter would appear to be a short story of sorts, but at the end there’s this short story that builds off it all and brings it all together into a mega story. That’s how the show seems to work in my perspective. Anyways, I think it could work, just hard to pull off.

    I think on Monday they are doing another special (they did one last month) that’s all about Marcy and Simon. (I think they are showing the original episode about how they met and a new one.) From the before times!!! I’m so excited for it!

  2. I haven’t seen Adventure Time, and I have no idea how I would react to its non-traditional approach to plot. I don’t usually react well to novels with absurdist plots, but I would probably be more tolerant of it in a cartoon.

  3. My 25 year old brother and 11 year old sister will sit together in their Adventure Time pajamas and watch this show.
    While Adventure Time is absurd, I really don’t think the structure is that abstract. It’s the adventures of a boy (with beautiful, flowing hair) and his dog within this world. Finn wants to be a hero, and Jake wants to help him out, and they go and do heroic things, and it’s super cool.
    Also, I really hope Princess Bubblegum and Finn get together. While I enjoy his current romance with Flame Princess, I think it’ll burn out.

  4. Jae,

    My kids love Adventure Time and yes I have watched it several times. What works for me, the thing that I take away from it is that it constantly strives to keep the pace moving and like an indoor rollercoaster you never know what to expect next.

    That is what I strive to do in my writing. Constantly keeping the reader wondering what will happen next. Is the airplane going to crash or is everything going to work out? Keep the plot moving, the tension high and the reader uncomfortable. Just like Adventure Time.

      • We all have to love something. Ha ha.

        My kids record this on the DVR. We have over 60 shows to watch. You are always welcome to come over for a Adventure Time Party. My daughter would love it.

  5. I’m sorry, but…I’ve never watched Adventure Time. *hides* I only recently found out what it was when an artist I was following on DeviantART created a sculpture of Lady Rainicorn. To be fair, I was pretty hooked just from looking at fan-art of the show!

    Watching sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother remind me of this sort of format – you know, the main ongoing plot with each episode having a different sub-plot.

    I guess it DOESN’T really work in novels; it would be quite difficult to have each chapter written as a different story – and an absurdist one in that. On the other hand, saying that, one published novel has occurred to me: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a bunch of stories with chronological ‘levels’, where each story’s protagonist is reading/watching the previous story, but is interrupted before they can finish. That way, it’s a bunch of stories that interweave with one another, whilst being completely different.

    • Hmmm… I’ll have to check out Cloud Atlas. Adding it to the library queue. I was really curious as to whether anyone had read a novel of a similar construction of this show. It’s another important thing to remember, that sometimes what we watch doesn’t necessarily work in novel form. I think that’s why a lot of people write omniscient pov, because of TV and movies. But often TV and movies are just multi-protag pov that seem omniscient. What do you think?

      • I agree. I think you saw my post about how soaps may have affected my writing? I talked about the way that TV promotes headhopping and scene-switching there. In a few of my old third-person stories, I have noticed that. It’s definitely a mindset that one has to get into: not writing from every possible character’s POV.

  6. I haven’t seen the show, so I can’t really comment on the merits of having a novel based on it. However, I’ve read some thinly plotted novels that may constitute the absurd. In those cases, I’ve always learned something from what I’ve read. I only wish sometimes, when I begin reading a novel, I could do well by putting it down when it starts to dwindle in storyline. Alas, by that time, it’s too late and I’m trapped into finishing the read!

    • I’m 50/50 with those situations. A novel can make me fed up enough to put it down these days. There’s too much good stuff out there to read to waste time on some books. But there are some I also get trapped into finishing too.

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