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If you love the warped sense of humor of "Spongebob Squarepants", but find it too light and airy for your taste, look no further than "Invader Zim".
Doom Doom Doom
Review by Matthew Anderson
27 Episode Animated Series
Company: Media Blasters
Running Time: 225 minutes (9 episodes)
Rated: PG (Subject matter)
Zim is an advanced scout for the Irken armada. His mission: find the weaknesses of the Earth people, and exploit it. Along with his robotic assistant Gir, they have landed on the mysterious planet Earth. A planet so mysterious, no one has ever heard of it!
While spying on the local Skool, he runs across paranoid alien/conspiracy nut Dib. Figuring out his secret, Dib will stop at nothing to expose Zim as an alien, proving to the world he is not crazy!
The more Zim investigates, the more he sees that these filthy, stupid, Earth creatures are a lot tougher than he thought. Yet, Zim will not stop until the entire planet is subjugated to his will.
It's a shame that the Irken leadership could care less if he succeeds or fails.
DVD VISION TEST
VIDEO: The DVD quality is excellent. On all three of our video systems, there was nary a pixel, color bleed, or wrinkle to be found. On our Samsung, I magnified it X4, and it still was flawless. This is 10 times better than what we saw on television.
AUDIO: Both the English and Spanish 2.0 are pretty evenly matched. The English 2.0 has a full sound and good directionality. The voices and music are blended perfectly. The Spanish 2.0 occasionally has some droning in the background.
The 2.0 Audio Commentary is pretty typical. The speakers come from the front while the show plays in the background.
EDITS: No edits from the original broadcast version.
EXTRAS: On both discs there are audio commentaries with creator Johnen Vasquez and various cast and crew members, Irken subtitles, and multi angle animatics.
On disc two, there is a pig commentary track on episode 8B, the original pilot, and interviews with the voice cast.
STORY: If you love the warped sense of humor of "Spongebob Squarepants", but find it too light and airy for your taste, look no further than "Invader Zim". Jhonen Vasquez and his staff have presented a very dark and extremely brilliant comedy. Their blend of physical humor, rapid fire one liners, and scathing social commentary is something that very few series, animated or otherwise, can match.
ACTING: With clever writing, you need a voice cast sharp enough to handle it. The entire voice cast for "Invader Zim" is one of the best group of actors ever assembled. Richard Horvitz's ability to switch from calm and cool to maniacal and hysterical in an instant is the main reason why Zim is so entertaining.
The same can be said for Andy Berman as Dib. Lampooning every conspiracy nut you have ever seen, he is able to modulate his voice in very much the same way as Richard Horvitz.
I was totally shocked to learn that Melissa Charles, the voice of "Ed" from "Cowboy Bebop" was Gaz. Her dark and cynical voice is a total departure from the perky "Ed".
Arguably, the best part of the show is Rosearik Simons as Gir. He takes some of the strangest dialogue ever written and just runs with it. His "Doom Song" is priceless.
FAN SERVICE: There are pop culture references all over the place. Rock concerts, American Gladiators, X-Files, A Clockwork Orange, the Borg from Star Trek, and even on-line ordering are just some of the things you will see.
There are also animated references to the writers, creator Jhonen Vasquez, and even some of the voice actors.
I love "Invader Zim". This is one of the best animated shows I have ever seen. The clever writing, the sublime animation, the hilarious acting make this show a true cult classic.
The first thing you notice about "Zim" is that it has the best merging of CG and traditional animation ever. It's crisp and clean, with a fluid motion that few series can match. Not even "Futurama" ever looked this good. Thanks to the DVD format, it looks light years better than it did on television.
From there, you will be struck by the awesome writing. Jhonen Vasquez and the staff writers are very clever satirists. They poke fun at the everyday things you and I don't really notice. Nothing is sacred or left untouched. The one-liners come at a lighting pace, rammed home by the awesome work of the vocal cast. You also have to give them props for having you root for the bad guy. Yes, that's right, Zim is the bad guy. Dib is our only hope of stopping him. It's just too bad that he is a total ass.
Everyone will have a favorite episode. Mine is Episode 7B, "Rise of the Zitboy". Zim gets a puss filled blemish after Gir gives him a washcloth made of bacon. When Gir draws a face on it, the liquid plus the face hypnotizes anyone who sees it. Calling it Pustulio, Zim goes after Dib, with hilarious results. "I see only my love for Pustulio!"
This series can be very dark, even scary at times. One of the best examples is episode 4B: "Dark Harvest". Zim is stealing organs so he won't be discovered by the school nurse. Right out of an old school horror film, Dib finds his classmates and even himself being hunted by the now organ addicted Zim. With it's spooky music, frenetic pacing, and the all too real concept of organ theft, it's pretty intense for a "kids" show.
Jhonen Vasquez has some very strange fetishes. Pigs, moose's, stuffed animals, and meat appear in almost every episode. He also has some issues about being sanitary, as many episodes deal with disgusting human "spooge", and the ever present problem of "Head Pidgins".
Next to "Spongebob Squarepants", this is the best ensemble cast ever assembled. The distinctive voices of Richard Horvitz, Melissa Charles, Kevin McDonald, Andy Berman, Rosearik Simon, and "Spongebob" alum Roger Bumpass are what makes this show wonderful. Taking the hard work of the writers and bringing them to life with just their voices is a testament to their abilities. When you combine all that with top-notch animation, it's better than bacon you make yourself.
Media Blasters has done an excellent job with "Invader Zim". The video is fantastic, the audio is well mixed. The extras, while not exactly plentiful, are unique. Who would ever have thought to include a pig commentary track and Ikren subtitles? Certainly not me. They also include interviews with the voice cast, and a human audio commentary in case you don't speak pig.
The commentary with the cast and crew is sometimes informative, but often confusing. With so many different people speaking, and no structure, it's a little hard to pick out any real nuggets of information. They are also a little too flippant in their comments, so you don't know if they are serious or joking.
If you are looking for a dark and edgy comedy, then "Invader Zim" will fit the bill like a pair of "atomic rubber pants". Thanks to Media Blasters, the great Zim will live on in our hearts and DVD players. Just remember this: if anyone says that "Invader Zim" is stupid just tell them, "It's not stupid. It's Advanced!"
Special shout out to Merideth Mulroney at Medial Blasters. Great job on "Invader Zim"! Thanks a bunch!
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