16th Oct2014

‘The Amazing World of Gumball: Season 1′ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Dan Russell, Logan Grove, Kwesi Boakye, Teresa Gallagher, Kerry Shale, Kyla Rae Kowalewski, Sandra Dickinson | Directed by Mic Graves | Created by Ben Bocquelet

Gumball

When I was a kid I was a massive fan of the likes of Beavis and Butthead and Ren & Stimpy – two cartoons that, even though dubbed “cartoons”, were not really suitable for younger kids.The former show pushed the boundaries of acceptability, often using lewd humour to get it’s liberal point across (something which went over my head, I just liked the toilet humour); whilst the latter took the gross-out route: mixing toilet humour and horrible sight gags, at the same time taking satirical pot-shots at various aspects of society.

In the years that followed, the idea of “adult animation” spawned an entire TV channel in the US, Adult Swim, which in turn gave birth to one of my all-time favourite animated shows, Robot Chicken, a brilliant mix of laughs and absurdity that really caught my attention (it didn’t hurt that Robot Chicken consists of a cast of geek “toys”). Yet who knew that some of the most absurd humour was actually taking place on Adult Swim’s child-friendly channel, Cartoon Network?

Created by Ben Bocquelet, The Amazing World of Gumball was, according to Wikipedia, based on rejected characters from Bocquelet’s previous commercial work, with the intent on making a series that was a mixture of “family shows and school shows”. The series follows…

…the misadventures of 12-year-old cat Gumball Watterson and his family. The quiet, little suburb of Elmore is not all that it seems, as almost everything has the ability to come to life. The series follows Gumball as he attends middle school with his goldfish brother and best friend Darwin. Supported by their parents and bunny sister Anais, the pair frequently find themselves involved in various shenanigans around town.

Debuting in 2011 on Cartoon Network, The Amazing World of Gumball mixes live action CGI, traditional cell animation and even differing art techniques in a way that I have [personally] never seen before. The odd mix of techniques perfectly marries the even odder set of characters that inhabit the world of Gumball. Although both pale to the odd absurdity of the situations Gumball and Darwin find themselves in… How anyone thought some of the ideas would be a suitable “kids cartoon” obviously didn’t watch much of the saccharine-filled, totally-PC cartoons that were airing at the time!

Yes, the themes of friendship and the high-school setting maybe kid-friendly but the rest of Gumball? Not so much. This really is as much of an adult show as it is a kids cartoon – in the same way Ren & Stimpy was when it aired on Nickelodeon back in the 90s. Which, as a HUGE fan of that animated series, is about the highest praise I can give the show. If only the first season was a little longer – 12 episodes just isn’t enough.

The Amazing World of Gumball is out now on DVD from Warner Bros.

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