The Wattersons are just like any other American family, a flawed but ultimately supportive enclave of personalities. The father is an oafish pink rabbit, the mother an overworked mess of a blue cat and their adopted son is the clan’s former house pet. Okay, so maybe they’re slightly different than the average family unit.
Rounded out by brainy little sister Anais (she’s a bunny too) and the disaster-prone title character (he takes after his mom), the Wattersons are at the heart of the nightly misadventures seen on Cartoon Network’s The Amazing World of Gumball. In a lineup alongside surreal heavy-hitters like Adventure Time and Regular Show, Gumball manages to be every bit as strange, and quite possibly a tiny bit more earnest.
The show’s unique visual style – with its odd blend of photorealism, blatant CGI and more old school 2D cell-style animation – underscores the tumultuous and always unpredictable life of our 12-year-old feline hero and his trusted best friend/brother/goldfish Darwin as they traverse a suburban landscape fraught with uncooperative video store clerks, bothersome tyrannosaurus classmates and angry baboon teachers. But beneath all that lies a message about the weird and wonderful world of childhood.
To commemorate the show’s second season, Cartoon Network has just released the series’ home video debut, The Amazing World of Gumball: The DVD. It’s a single-disc collection comprised of 12 of season one’s 36 shorts including highlights like creepy adventure story “The Picnic,” the costumed hilarity of “The Gi” and kick-off episode (and distinctly unsurprising inclusion, given the release’s title) “The DVD.”
Current fans will dig having these perfectly bizarre shows in their collection, and newbies will find this an ideal opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Gumball universe. It’s a place where a peanut with antlers can serve as a first crush, a banana is the class clown and the school janitor looks like a long lost Muppet.
Some may likely write off The Amazing World of Gumball as yet another entry into the slowly crowding sub-genre of the animated family sitcom, but it’s more than that. Watching Gumball and Darwin go to great lengths to help their little sister reclaim a lost doll or slovenly dad Richard finally rouse himself from the couch to aid the boys in their time of need, the show manages to have genuine heart even as the plots themselves transition from well-worn TV tropes to all out madness.
This is greatly aided by a stellar cast of British and American voice actors, the best of which are easily young Logan Grove and Kwesi Boakye (Gumball and Darwin respectively). A success both visually and aurally, the show’s a true testament to creator Ben Bocquelet’s eclectic vision, and the DVD itself is a representative sampling of all that makes Gumball great.
Like a lot of less-than-full-season releases, it sadly skimps on the extras – including only a single “Meet the Wattersons” special feature. Still, I can forgive this somewhat as it at least gives viewers the opportunity to experience the show’s delightful theme song, which is often truncated during television broadcasts, in its entirety. At around $10 on Amazon, The Amazing World of Gumball: The DVD is a must-buy for fans of Cartoon Network’s comedy programming.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch that action movie spectacular Alligators on a Train. Assuming I can remember where I put the DVD.
Review materials provided by: Cartoon Network