(Hy)Lights #29: Over the GARDEN Wall

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Over the recent years, Cartoon Network has been steadily improving on their animation roster with shows that managed to appeal to both kids and adults like Adventure Time, Regular Show, Gumball and currently a favorite of mine Steven Universe. Yes, they have their blunders and misfires as well (Teen Titans Go!, Uncle Grandpa) but next or close to current Disney animation shows, they are the strongest contender we have for good animated shows in the States (and yes, Nickelodeon won’t have that anymore once Korra ends).

Now on the real topic of today, Over the Garden Wall.

Over the Garden Wall is one of the first animated miniseries they have commissioned by the network. It is created by Patrick McHale, a cartoonist very known in CN for being a writer and storyboard artist for The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and the former creative director, writer & storyboard artist for Adventure Time. The miniseries is also based on a short he created while back called Tome of the Unknown as part of Cartoon Network Studios’ shorts development program.

The series centers around two brothers, Wirt and Greg (voiced by Elijah Wood and Collin Dean respectively), who become lost in a strange forest called the Unknown. In order to find their way home, the two must travel across the forest, apparently magic, with the help of the wise, elderly Woodsman (Christopher Lloyd) and Beatrice (Melanie Lynskey), an irritable bluebird who travels with the boys in order to undo a curse that has affected her whole family.

Now, a show with a concept like this is mostly easy to screw up if the story meanders itself to repetitive and makes the journey unbearable and dull through false interpretation of being profound and deep, wanting you to get the destination faster than before so you won’t have to sit through it.

That is not the case for this show. This one is actually good. No, scratch that. THIS IS GREAT!!

The premise does sound humble at best at the first few episodes but getting into it halfway through, you are deeply absorbed into this magical world that you really want to stick around for. Not to mention the show manages to pull some twists and turns in the latter part that felt natural and spontaneous at some times. It clears McHale knows the journey he has created knew its beginning, its middle and its end. What also helps the show is that while it’s 10 episodes, they last 11 minutes each like any other runtime they give most CN (and Adult Swim to an extent) shows, given the full series’ runtime of approximately 2 hours so it is a breeze to watch and that’s the show’s greatest strength in a nutshell.

Another strength that the show has is its atmosphere and animation with its rustic yet sepia aesthetic throughout with the country side. The tone of the series has this creepy yet audacious vibe that’s resonant to many Grimm’s fairy tale stories to say the least.

Did I mention that the music is easily the best part of the series? No? Then yeah, the music is the part of the series. From the first second the music plays to the short but effective folksy opening theme throughout and the majority of the songs here, it has that lasting mood that really sets in the show and possibly even makes you think of memories of your own with this setting.

The show has a great amount of characters although there is mostly development for the main characters as some you only see once but yet this doesn’t come as a problem for them as they managed to keep them interesting and likable. I do like Wirt and Greg, both of whom have a normal relationship between brothers although I did get used to Greg as he might seem annoying at first but understands he’s looking life more of a positive aspect, more so than Wirt. Beatrice might be the most interesting out of the main 3 with her plotline explained in the show. The voice cast provided some outstanding performances with grand voice direction from Kristi Reed. Of course, Elijah Wood and Melanie Lynskey gave some good acting as Wirt and Beatrice along Christopher Lloyd carrying a well-done creepy performance as The Woodsman. Collin Dean as Greg performed well here, too, as I never did hear this kid before or at least he doesn’t seem recognizable in roles he has gotten before. Guest appearances by John Cleese (playing two characters I’m not going to give out), Chris Isaak, Fred Stoller, Bebe Neuwirth, Shannyn Sossamon, Shirley Jones among others were performed very accurately into the characters upon them, especially Tim Curry, whose voice seem unrecognizable at first in his role.

FINAL VERDICT: Finally, a show with this kind of concept that knows how to be interesting, funny, and effectively dramatic at some parts that can kind your attention. Over the Garden Wall is another great animated show on Cartoon Network with great characters, a simplistic storyline that expands itself with something more with moments we never saw coming, and an imaginative and energetic atmosphere that actually does more to help the show than harms it.

And Over the Garden Wall goes over the score with

9/10 – FIRST CLASS

 

And with that said, this is MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, bringing all the elements….Over the Garden Wall.

OVER THE GARDEN WALL – courtesy of Cartoon Network

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