New cartoon with old charm

Kathleen Ellison

If you ever talk to me about television I will inevitably end up talking about today’s cartoons, and my belief that we are in a new age of cartoons. Many kid shows today are critically amazing, they not only reach out to children but to adults as well. They cover complex issues, contain subtle adult humor and are genuinely artistic looking.

Shows like “Legend of Korra” deal with intense drama and heavy political issues like terrorism and fascism. Disney’s “Gravity Falls” is layered with complex puzzles for the audience to decode and rife with adult references to stuff like “Legend of Zelda”, “Twin Peaks” and horror movies. “Adventure Time” contains massive world-building elements and breaks down topics like dementia and institutional oppression.

And now Cartoon Network’s miniseries “Over the Garden Wall” has joined the ranks of these critically acclaimed cartoons that even adults will love and appreciate.

“Over the Garden Wall” is about two boys Wirt (played by Elijah Wood) and Greg (played by Collin Dean), who are trying find their way home when they end up lost in a weird forest called the Unknown. They meet strange characters such as an old woodsman (played by Christopher Lloyd) and a sassy talking bluebird named Beatrice (played by Melanie Lynsky).

The plot and setting of the show are that of a fairy tale in it’s truest form: whimsical and grim. This show is creepy and dark, and yet balances this with quirky humor and Greg’s humorous innocence. It is never too dark, or too sweet and corny, instead you are treated to serious piece of art with serious themes and underlying plot. The surprise twist towards the end of the season will blow you away, it marvelously ties everything together and reveals how everything makes sense.

The show has won both an Emmy and a Rueben Award for it’s animation, and let me tell you it is deserving of those awards. The animation style is reminiscent of old 20’s cartoons, with specific episodes referencing such shows as “Betty Boop” and Disney’s old “Alice Comedies”. The background images are especially beautiful, resembling old paintings that create an eerie environment of early Americana and folklore. The combining art styles is something that is light and fanciful, but also incredibly artistic.

The entire season is now out on DVD and is also available on Hulu, Amazon, and Cartoon Network’s website. This miniseries is a perfect treat for the upcoming fall season, and an impressive cinematic addition to anyone’s film library.


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