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'Adventure Time With Finn & Jake' enters a wild new world

TELEVISION REVIEW

The new Cartoon Network show takes place in a fantastical land of strange characters.

April 05, 2010|By ROBERT LLOYD | Television Critic

“Adventure Time With Finn & Jake,” a new animated series getting its official premiere Monday on the Cartoon Network (there were sneak previews in March) strikes me as a kind of companion piece to the network's currently airing “Chowder” and “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack."

Each takes place in a fantastical land peopled with strange, somewhat disturbing characters and has at its center a young male person or person-like thing making his way in that world with the help of unusual, not always reliable, mentors.

These shows are also not unlike CN's earlier “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends,” about a boy and his monster, though they are darker and stranger and even less connected to the world as we know it. They are not the sort of cartoons they made when I was a boy, though they are in some ways the sort of cartoons they made when cartoons themselves were young and delighted in bringing all things to rubbery life.

Created by Pendleton Ward, who previously did storyboards and wrote for "Flapjack," "Adventure Time" is set in the Land of Ooo, which like the Land of Oz itself comprises many lands, each with its own pallette and princess and particular physics.

Finn (Jeremy Shada) is the resident Dorothy, an ostensibly human boy who wears a backpack and a white cap with little bear ears that ties around the chin. It is not the sort of thing your typical 12-year-old -- Finn's official age -- would be caught dead in unless he were extremely cool or extremely not cool. He has dots for eyes and, like many of Ward's characters, has no nose.

Jake, Finn's best friend, is a dog with the unexplained power to stretch himself big. He's played by John DiMaggio, whom "Futurama" fans should recognize as the voice of the dissolute robot Bender; he uses nearly the same voice here but with the anger, the evil and the self-interest left out.

Recurring players include Princess Bubblegum, who is tall and pink, rules over the Candy Kingdom and does science; the Ice King, a sort of cousin to Cold Miser from "The Year Without a Santa Claus"; Marceline the Vampire Queen; and Lady Rainicorn, half-rainbow, half-unicorn, who is described as Jake's girlfriend.

This is how Monday night's first adventure begins. Princess Bubblegum, doing a science experiment, says: "All right, let me just add three more drops of explosive diarrhea."

"Princess Bubblegum," asks Finn, "when we bring the dead back to life, will they be filled with worms?"

"No," she says. "If my Decorpsinator serum works, then all the dead candy people will look as young and healthy as you do."

It's hard for me to resist talk like that, at once so childish, so pulpy, so polite. (The drawing is like that too.) Lines like "Lumpy Space Princess, you big faker, you're floating, not bouncing," or "Don't cry, Hot Dog Princess, Jake and I will fend off these Battle Cubes" -- there are whole wild worlds in there.

robert.lloyd@latimes.com

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