Finals are coming, which usually means either staying up late studying or finding new ways to procrastinate. So, if you're looking for a way to spend your 2 a.m. study breaks or just looking for a new show to watch before winter break, there is only one place to go: "Over The Garden Wall."
Last November, Cartoon Network released its first
mini-series, an animated show about two brothers, Wirt and Greg, who
find themselves lost in a dark
wood called "The Unknown." With the help of a blue bird named Beatrice,
traverse the forest and try to make it back home while a creature known
only as "The Beast" looms, watching. Some say it's best for autumn
evenings, but I think the chill and wind that comes with the beginning
of finals and the start of winter is perfect watching-weather.
might say that you haven't watched a cartoon since grade school, or
that you don't have the time to watch a new show, especially during
finals, but here are ten reasons you may want to rethink that!
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1. This is not your average children's cartoon.
mean, even by 2015's standard for twisted children’s shows (here's lookin' at
you, "Gravity Falls!"), it goes above and beyond every animated show on
television right now. It won the 2015 Emmy for “Outstanding Animated
Program,” beating out "Bob’s Burgers," "Archer," "South Park," and "The
Simpsons." Considering the show manages to be both dark and light-hearted
at the same time, and is basically guaranteed to have you in tears by
the end, it’s not all that surprising that it’s gotten some recognition
(not to mention the twist ending that will have you rushing back to the
first episode with a mountain of theories in mind.) It's not something
you can watch without being fully aware of what you're watching, ready
to pick up on pieces of foreshadowing and the constantly moving plot. If
you’re looking for something to wake you up to keep studying from
putting you to sleep, this is it. Be careful, though. The world of "The
Unknown" can feel like a dream and if you let yourself zone out, the
Beast’s song can lull you to sleep faster than any textbook!
2. It only takes two hours to finish.
Like I said, it’s a miniseries. There are only 10 episodes, all just 11 minutes long. Watch it all at once as a long
study break, or use it as a quick breather between subjects. It’s definitely
worth the time, and if you find it wasn’t, it wasn’t much time to sacrifice to
3. The atmosphere and tone of the show provides the perfect escape from the real world.
"Over The Garden Wall" creates what I can only describe as nostalgia for
a time that never existed, allowing "The Unknown" to exist in its own
universe. The style of music and art, muted color palette, and
collection of characters all call back to separate time periods in our
own world that manage to exist simultaneously in the world of "The
Unknown," producing a unique tone and quality, along with the
overwhelming sensation that the show should only be watched in complete
darkness while the wind shakes the windowpanes and steals the last of
the leaves from the trees.
4. Speaking of music, the soundtrack is to die for.
The composers, a group called “The Blasting Company,” put so much
into the soundtrack that the DVD actually comes with a “Composer’s Cut,”
where you can watch the entire show without sound effects or dialogue
so that you can hear every bit of background music. It's a unique
collection of vocal and orchestral tracks that I could talk about for
hours, but all you really need to know to understand what "The Blasting
Company" has managed to do is create a
haunting reprise of a song called “Potatoes and Molasses.” If you're
looking for some new study music, there's nowhere better than the piano
and accordion that follow Wirt and Greg through the woods.
5. The art and animation are beautiful.
The characters are designed to contrast the detailed background,
and a lot of the animation is meant to reference the cartoons of old. I
won't say too much about it, though. You can see it for yourself.
6. Old cartoons aren't the only inspiration the show pulls from.
If you’re an English major like me, you might have read the show
description and thought to yourself, “Hm, that sounds remarkably like a
certain 14th century poem.” That’s because the entire show is basically a
re-telling of Dante’s
"Inferno," with a bonus trip to "Paradiso" in episode
Wirt and Greg’s trip through "The Unknown" is so similar to Dante’s
journey through Hell that I actually used the show as a way to study
"The Divine Comedy" for class
last semester. The show also takes inspiration from everything from
19th century children’s literature to Gustave Doré’s artwork to
Disney’s “Alice Comedies.” If you’re lucky, you might have just
found yourself the perfect study tool.
7. The humor is spot on.
Anyone who likes children’s shows as much as I do knows that the
humor you find in most of them can be a little hard to bear. Some have
their moments, though, and
"Over The Garden Wall" is absolutely full of
them. Luckily, there is no real comic relief character, though Greg’s
childlike thoughts and songs are often the source of humor. He is
basically the embodiment of “Potatoes and Molasses”: unbelievably sweet
and prepared to turn dreary moments light. The rest of the humor is
almost always found in the delivery of the dialogue. Every word out of
Wirt, Greg, or Beatrice’s mouths is quotable. If you need something to
lift your spirits during a long night of cramming, "Over The Garden
Wall" can definitely provide. Though, if you’re looking for something light, I’d suggest sticking to the early episodes, because…
8. This show is dark, and it's not even trying to be subtle about it.
A lot of children’s cartoons like to bring in some creepier elements or adult themes, but "Over The Garden Wall" is not nearly as gentle with it as others are. I mean, the entire show revolves around death and eventually ends up exploring the ways even the strongest characters can be forced to abandon hope. The only other children’s show I can think of that is so blatant in the way it treats its darker elements is the "Avatar: The Last Airbender" series and its counterpart, "Legend of Korra" (both shows worth checking out, by the way.) The show is visually scary, too. Episode 7, in particular, has some moments that I’m sure would have given me nightmares as a child, and the Beast is honestly terrifying once you catch him in the light. If you’re planning on pulling an all-nighter, this show can definitely keep you up late, whether you’d like it to or not.
9. It has a superstar cast.
show stars Elijah Wood ("Lord of the Rings") as Wirt and Christopher
Lloyd ("Back to the Future") as the Woodsman, and features famous actors
like Tim Curry and John Cleese in their own stand-alone episodes. It's
worth watching just for those moments when you hear a voice and
instantly pull out your phone to check where you know that actor from.
10. The first episode is available on Youtube.
You don’t even have to go searching the Internet to start this
show. Cartoon Network provided Episode 1 as a preview just before the
show started, and it's still up on their channel
So turn the lights out, pull the blinds down, and give into the urge to procrastinate, if only for 11 minutes!