Last year I went on the hunt for the Season 1 DVD set of Adventure Time for my son. One of his friends had introduced him to it (even though much of it went over his head) and he just really enjoyed it. The episodes on television were the newer season and he hadn’t watched the earlier episodes, so I figured I’d grab it for him and sit down and see what all the fuss was about.
Now, here’s a true story — I went to the store (which will remain unnamed to protect the salesperson) and asked the young twenty-something lady there if she had the Adventure Time Season 1 DVDs. She said yes, found it for me, and I went with her to pay. She asked me if I had ever seen it and I responded that I had not but my young son was a fan. I asked her if she thought I might enjoy it. Her words, I kid you not: “Well, if you’re over age 8 and you’re going to watch it, I’d highly suggest getting high. It’s messed up and that’s the only way I can imagine ever being able to sit through an episode.”
It made me laugh (but I am not condoning drug use)… until I got home and watched the first three or four episodes with my son. WTH? I just didn’t get it. The first episode literally just has this dog and odd-looking boy fighting off zombie candy-people and the boy has made a royal promise to Princess Bubblegum not to tell the actual candy-people about the zombies? Again… WTH?
Okay… let’s keep going. Episode 2. The dog named Jake (I was beginning to remember the names at this point) is bitten by a lumpy character named LSP — Lumpy Space Princess. Jake is going to turn into a lumpy unless he can find the antidote which only exists in Lumpy Space. So off Jake and Finn (the strange boy’s name) go with LSP to find this antidote. In lumpy space, you can only travel from floating landmass to floating landmass by riding in a car that floats between landmasses. The antidote exists at Makeout Point where three slacker lumpies are sitting around taking turns sitting on this glass ball that turns out to be the antidote. Jake gives up and drives away and Finn, realizing his best friend is going to turn into a lumpy and be lost forever, convinces the slacker lumpies to bite him so he can jump and float over to a different landmass where the lumpies are hosting a prom. He lands with the antidote, but Jake’s already turned. Finn tries to get him to sit on the antidote, but Jake’s not having it. They tussle and just as Finn turns completely into a lumpy, Jake accidentally falls on the antidote, turns back into a dog, and now must convince Finn to sit on the antidote.
With me so far? Really? Okay, then you may very well be understanding what I’ve slowly developed over the last six to eight months… a curious yet unexplained attraction to these 11 minute episodes of a show with hundreds more episodes just as strange and crazy as the two I just described that kick off the entire show. The young lady wasn’t kidding — I’m not high when I watch these shows, but honestly I wonder if being high will somehow make them make more sense? The episodes are jolting and machine-gun like in their pacing and dialogue… and every episode wraps up in less than twelve minutes. Jake and Finn manage to have some sort of adventure that usually makes no sense but in the end everything works out and the The Land of OOO is once again safe and fun.
But here’s the rub. I’ve set the recorder to record any and all episodes that come on television, including reruns. It’s like a train wreck where I just can’t avert my eyes. I get in these weird moods where I just need a dose of Adventure Time. (I even went back and hunted down the pilot episode — some things cannot be unseen.)
My son? Oh, he loves it. He laughs out loud at some of the strangest things that totally go over (under?) my head. I’m the old guy here, so I know I must be totally missing something. I’ve not seen every episode (Let’s do the math — 5 seasons x 26 episodes (32 for season 5) per season x 11 minutes per episode… works out to about 25 hours), but I’ve seen enough to know that I will never be the same.
Yet… my son totally digs the show. In an effort to try and find a way to understand… to try to see what he sees… I’ve had to resort to actually sitting down and reading through The Adventure Time Encyclopaedia, Inhabitants, Lore, Spells, and Ancient Crypt Warnings of the Land of OOO Circa 19.56 B.G.E – 501 A.G.E — Compiled by His Lowness Hunson Abadeer, Lord of Evil, Translated From the Scrolls of OOO by Martin Olson.
Helpful? Oh, yeah. Majorly. Every major and minor character that I’ve so far encountered is in here… plus a ton more than I haven’t which leads me to believe I’ve been slacking on my Adventure Time watching.
But this isn’t just an A-Z of characters. It’s got an interesting mix of… other stuff. The Ice King’s zine, for example… the Premier Collector’s Edition 1, complete with crayon-drawn character image collector cards with typewriter-quality descriptions on the back. Cut ‘em out and collect ‘em all! Then there’s the BMO User Manual! What’s not to love about the mobile friend simulator? And don’t forget to read over the Travel Guide to the various kingdoms of OOO. As the book nears completion, it just gets weirder. Yes, weirder.
Look, I can’t go through this all alone. There have got to be some other geek dads and moms out there who have been hiding their Adventure Time addiction. It’s time to come clean, alright? And I know just how to do it.
That’s right. I’ve got three copies of the Encyclopaedia to give away, but you’re going to have to earn it. Did I mention that the books are signed by author Martin Olson and show creator, Pen Ward? Oh, now you’re not so embarrassed to raise your hand and admit you’ve got a problem, are you?
Okay, so here’s what I want you to do — post a comment summarizing your favorite Adventure Time story. Be sure to specify which season it’s from (consult the Wikipedia episode guide if necessary). You’ve really got to capture the crazy, okay? I’ll pick my three favorite responses and notify the winners via email. Unfortunately the contest is only open to US residents… sorry. Post your comment no later than Friday, August 23rd at 11:59pm PST for a chance at one of the three copies.
Well, gotta run. I know what time it is…
Note: I’d like to thank Maya with Abrams for providing the signed copies.