Friends battle other worldly enemies
Published: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 22, 2013 23:09
Disney Channel’s new original animated series, “Wander Over Yonder,” marks legendary television animator Craig McCracken’s first major project to reach the air since the conclusion of his Cartoon Network program “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” in 2009. McCracken, who also served as a writer on Cartoon Network’s “Dexter’s Laboratory” and created “The Powerpuff Girls” for the same network, has brought his latest project to the Disney Channel after having become “disillusioned” with the current Cartoon Network trend of mostly airing reality and live action programming, as well as syndicated cheaply animated programs, rather than the classic original cartoons the network produced in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
And “Wander Over Yonder” is exactly the type of program Cartoon Network should be making.
To quote a Disney Channel press release: ““Wander Over Yonder” is about best friends and epic enemies, set in surreal places across the universe. Wander (voiced by 30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer) is an overly-optimistic intergalactic traveler who, along with his loyal but bullish steed Sylvia, goes from planet to planet helping people to live free and have fun, all against the evil reign of Lord Hater and his army of Watchdogs.”
A basic series with completely unrealistic and fantastical characters, the show is easy to jump into.
Each episode is divided into twin 11 minute segments.
The first for this review was “The Picnic.”
In “The Picnic,” we see Wander trying to find the perfect spot for viewing the alignment of the planets. Nearby, Lord Hater attempts to utilize the event to gain supreme power over the universe via a celestial wish granting, but first he attempts to defend his position from his rival Emperor Awesome. The segment’s hilarity is drawn from Wander, who, blissfully unaware of Lord Hater’s intentions, keeps unintentionally annoying the villain in a variety of ways (stopping for photos, offering sandwiches etc.).
In the second segment, entitled “The Fugitives,” Wander and Sylvia attempt to escape capture by Lord Hater’s minions, only to be thwarted repeatedly by Wander stopping to help others like making sure a balloon animal alien doesn’t accidentally step on a thumbtack.
The show can be quite funny at times. Over the top characters, and Wander’s helpful if not annoying tendencies are sure to provide great laughs. The randomness of the antics encountered by the characters at such a breakneck pace also make for some great comedy.
Perhaps its simplicity is what makes “Wander Over Yonder” so fantastic. It doesn’t have the complex animation or intricate plotline of “The Legend of Korra,” nor a feast of pop culture references that could be caught in “Adventure Time.” What you get is a mild mannered toon, over the top supporting characters, and some good old fashioned slapstick humor. Like old Looney Tunes cartoons, with a simple plotline and memorable characters, it can be easily enjoyed by young and old alike.
Longtime cartoon viewers should expect a great feeling of nostalgia from the program, which uses everything from the throwback “limited” animation style that was utilized by classic Hanna-Barbera and early Cartoon Network programs, to a beautifully simple cartoon art style, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the ending of “Ed, Edd n’ Eddy.” Astute viewers will even recognize the utilization of certain “classic” sound effects used frequently on old CN programs such as “Samurai Jack” and “Dexter’s Laboratory.” Longtime McCracken collaborators such as Tom Kenny (voice of SpongeBob) also lend their talents to the program.
While the past few years have been blessed with some fantastic animated series that have raised the bar in terms of visuals and storytelling for what were once considered only as “children’s shows,” it’s incredibly refreshing to see a program go back to square one. “Wander Over Yonder” looks to be one promising cartoon.