Chances are, at some point within the past month or two, you’ve heard of the new miniseries Over the Garden Wall.
Created by Patrick McHale, former writer and creative director of the hit series Adventure Time, the animation has gained a notable amount of critical acclaim since its premiere on Cartoon Network last month, and is arguably the best miniseries of the year.
Read on for seven reasons why Over the Garden Wall should be on the top of your “to watch” list this holiday season.
1. You’ve never seen anything like it.
Admittedly, I was skeptical when someone recommended I watch Over the Garden Wall, mainly because so many kids’ shows these days seem to rehash all of the same stuff. They’re mindless, mediocre, and don’t offer enough to capture my attention. Not the case with Over the Garden Wall.
Not only is the series beautifully stylized, it’s silly and innocent enough for the younger crowd, while thought-provoking enough to hold the attention of an older audience. It’s quirky and slightly sinister in the way a Tim Burton film might be, and detailed and captivating in a way reminiscent of Hayao Miyazaki films. It remains original yet somehow familiar, with a robust cast and a clever plot that becomes more intriguing as the series develops.
2. It’s in 2D.
While films and television shows rendered in 3D are by no means void of artistic creativity, there’s something special about a series animated in traditional 2D. As the practice becomes less and less common, works that employ traditional animation are refreshing, and Over the Garden Wall is no exception.
Its simplistic design provides viewers with a sense of nostalgia, while its subdued color palette and vignette style give the impression of a classic cartoon with modern flair.
3. It’s a musical.
As if classic animation weren’t good enough, yes, Over the Garden Wall is also a musical. And even if you aren’t normally a fan of song and dance numbers, think twice before you pass this one up.
The tunes are surprisingly catchy, and each episode features an original piece that is fantastically integrated into the episode’s plot. You can bet your pointy hat that I was singing “Potatoes and Molasses” for days.
4. A lineup of compelling and unique characters…
Over the Garden Wall follows two brothers, Wirt and Greg, on their journey through the woods as they try to escape “The Unknown” and find their way back home. Wirt is a worrier (undoubtedly what inspires his name), and is constantly in a tizzy about the carefree Greg who tends to wander off with his pet frog when left unsupervised.
Wirt and Greg are polar opposites in nearly every sense, but the fantastic chemistry between the two brothers is the glue that holds the miniseries together while providing plenty of comic relief.
Throughout the series, the pair meets allies (Beatrice the bluebird), enemies (the Beast), and neutral parties (the Woodsman), all with unique backstories and secrets of their own. The number of characters and the extent to which they are developed is impressive, especially when considering the series’ relatively short runtime.
5. …And cast of talented voice actors to match.
Over the Garden Wall has managed to recruit several well-known actors to voice its many intriguing characters, adding both to the quality and appeal of the miniseries. Elijah Wood is the perfect choice for Wirt, the unmistakable pitch of his voice providing just the right balance of uncertainty and sarcasm, and Christopher Lloyd’s performance as the crazed and elderly Woodsman is a treat.
Melanie Lynskey makes an appearance as the cynical Beatrice, and new talent is introduced as well, with the young Collin Dean voicing the hilariously clueless Greg. All in all, the cast is robust and impressive for a relatively small project.
6. For a kids’ show, it’s remarkably dark.
A tense chase scene involving a giant wolf-like beast, cannibalistic witches, and a town full of living skeletons are just a few of the show’s creepier elements, whose aesthetic falls closer to the Welcome to Nightvale camp than that of Disney cartoons.
While technically classified as a show for children, I can’t help but wonder whether or not the younger audience will be as captured by Over the Garden Wall as the older crowd has been. On the whole it’s not by any means inappropriate for youngsters, but if you have small children, you might want to think twice before letting them watch this cartoon with some dark themes and frightening moments.
7. It’s short and sweet.
At a mere ten episodes, each with a running time of about 11 minutes, Over the Garden Wall clocks in at a reasonable two hours total. That’s shorter than most movies these days, and it’s certainly less time than you’ll probably spend staring mindlessly at social media today. And because each episode is so short, the plot is tightly woven and well planned, fitting nicely into the series’s larger narrative. You have no excuses.
The first episode of Over the Garden Wall can be viewed on Cartoon Network’s YouTube channel, and all ten episodes can be purchased on iTunes for only $9.99. Already seen Over the Garden Wall? Tell us what you thought of the miniseries in the comments below!