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TV That Matters: ‘Adventure Time’

By John Thomas Columnist

I probably read too many comments on too many articles about too many television programs. But the fact is, my procrastination assumes this form allowing me to, in a way that isn’t academic in the slightest, pick up on probably the most prevalent criticism levied towards the most acclaimed shows of today. They don’t give their most dramatic moments time to breathe.

That accusation has given me pause for a couple of years now. When I was first getting into television criticism, as a junior in high school, I was definitely a proponent of the idea that some of my favorite shows seemed to know how to construct a compelling plot that I felt emotionally invested in. But on the flipside they didn’t invest enough time into the most poignant plot points. I specifically remember having this problem with the last episode of Doctor Who’s fifth series, “The Big Bang.” There’s a sequence where the Doctor relives his life in reverse, and then through the power of love or something, he’s brought back to our time and our universe in tip-top condition. My problem wasn’t the complete lack of logic exhibited by the episode, but rather that I felt at the time that if they were going to use the “power of love or whatever”™ to save the Doctor, well, then they should’ve spent more time showing that power. Man, I was so wrong and this week’s episode of “Adventure Time” shows exactly why that’s the case.

At eleven minutes and change, your average episode of the The Land of Ooo-set adventure still packs in quite a lot of plot. For instance, just the other week we saw the fall then return of Fire Princess to her kingdom. In addition we saw her romance with Cinnamon Bun, a romance that was first revealed and subsequently consummated (I mean you know, it’s on Cartoon Network) within that same time span.

This week, we see Ice King lose his powers and return to his former sane but less coolly named (Simon) form, and the surprise return of his lover Betty from over millennia ago. Then Betty is defeated of the very being that sapped his powers, not to mention Simon’s reunion with Marceline.

It’s a feat that the artists behind “Adventure Time” are able to pack so much into their episodes on an almost weekly basis without making the show feel like it’s going at a breakneck pace. That being said, there isn’t much time to doodle, and even if there were I think that would be to its detriment.

See, this episode packs in such emotional heft because it reticently relishes in the poignancy upon which its plot rests. The serialized nature of “Adventure Time” allows them to revisit these topics by progressing their character’s forward. That progression is at the heart of our affection for the show. It just doesn’t make a lick of sense to ask for more time to contemplate the current state of affairs, because its ever-changing nature is what makes you care about in the first place.

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