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Case Number 16075: Small Claims Court

Buy Chowder: Volume 2 at Amazon

Chowder: Volume 2

Cartoon Network // 2007 // 110 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // April 6th, 2009

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All Rise...

Radda radda radda, Judge Adam Arseneau radda radda! Radda radda!

Editor's Note

Our review of Chowder: Volume 1, published November 6th, 2008, is also available.

The Charge

Stay awhile, there's always something cooking!

The Case

Sprung from the fertile, food-obsessed loins of a former Spongebob Squarepants storyboard artist, Chowder is magnificent fun, a whirling dervish of delightful whimsy and fun for kids and adults alike. It's not just fans of C. H. Greenblatt's previous work that will find pleasure here.

In Marzipan City, anything can happen, including the dreams of young Chowder, who wishes to learn the fantastical art of cooking. He takes an apprentice role at Mung Daal Catering, owned by eccentric chef Mung Daal, an accomplished but bizarre cooker of exotic items. Mung wants to pass his secrets along to Chowder, but Chowder seems more interested in eating food than cooking it properly. Along with cantankerous wife Truffles and rock golem Shnitzel, there's never a dull moment in Marzipan City!

Chowder: Volume 2 contains five episodes from the hit Cartoon Network series, with each episode divided into two 15-minute installments (ten total):

• "The Wrong Address" and "The Wrong Customer"
• "Burple Nurples" and "Shnitzel Makes A Deposit"
• "Gazpacho Stands Up" and "A Taste Of Marzipan"
• "The Puckerberry Overlords" and "The Elemelons"
• "Sniffleball" and "Mung On The Rocks"

A revelation! Chowder is unexpectedly hilarious. I wasn't quite sure what to expect when the DVD arrived at my doorstep, and I'd been on a three-day alcohol bender after reviewing the latest Bakugan, so it was with serious trepidation that I approached Chowder, Vol. 2. I'd never heard of the show before watching this set, but to my delight, I laughed so hard that my wife came in from the other room to tell me to shut up. Then she started watching, and laughing. Suffice it to say, it was a good night.

Greenblatt's character designs are frenetic and fun, a perplexing blend of geometric shapes, exaggerated facial caricatures and a prevailing theme of Moroccan and Indian architecture and design elements throughout. It is a wholly unique style to be sure, and one that takes advantage of a peculiar technique where patterns on screen are fixed, and the animation moves atop it—the characters move, but the patterns remain stationary. The end result is unique to be sure; I've seen it done before, but not very often. The show also randomly combines stop-motion puppet work (similar to the style of Robot Chicken) interjected into episodes at unexpected times, usually to break the fourth wall, as well as puppet versions of its characters during the credits.

Irreverence and random jokes are the name of the game here. Chowder is silly stuff as far as cartoons go, with little in the way of moral lessons or educational values—just good, goofy laughs that weave sophisticated puns into toilet jokes effortlessly, usually without you noticing. It's a little bit Ren & Stimpy, a little bit Spongebob Squarepants, and a little bit of the Food Network for good measure. There's lots of culinary and food jokes to be found here, which is great, because I like food. Animation fans will also find some familiar voice artists at work here, like John Di Maggio (Bender in Futurama) and Dwight Schultz (The A-Team).

If I have a criticism of the show thus far—and that's a big if—it is the lack of depth to the characters. Sure, they're funny and wild and wacky, doing and saying bizarre things and breaking every logical rule in the book, but there's not much connection yet to be made with them thus far. This is the kind of thing that will come with time, of course. This is after all, a show in its infancy; the episodes here are taken from its first season. It is a small criticism to be sure, since these episodes certainly do make me want to see more episodes, and more, and more!

We get Chowder presented in its native 1.78:1 aspect ratio (which is a noticeable improvement from the cropped ratio in which Cartoon Network airs the show). It's a beautifully animated show, with vibrant colors rich in purples, blues, and yellows, and the transfer is impressive, much more impressive than I've come to expect from Cartoon Network DVD releases. Contrast is high, color saturation is strong, black levels are solid and while some edge distortion and compression artifacts are noticeable, they don't detract from the overall presentation and upscale nicely on HDTV. Audio is a simple stereo presentation, but dialogue is clean and bass response is well-balanced.

The disc doesn't contain much in the way of extras, just an artwork featurette showing some sketches and character design templates. One thing to note is that the episodes presented in Chowder, Vol. 2 are not shown in their initial broadcast order, just a random sampling of episodes from the looks of it. Fans aren't likely to complain much, provided Cartoon Network keeps releasing sets on DVD.

Zany, irreverent, and endearing, Chowder is top-notch entertainment. It's a young show, and hasn't quite settled down on consistent humor yet, but this is its first season here. It may never quite surpass its big yellow spongy cousin in popularity and cultural relevance, but Chowder holds its own. I'm just sorry I missed out on Chowder: Volume 1! Now my wife is making me go buy it. Radda, radda, radda.

The Verdict

Positively delightful! Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Cartoon Network
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 110 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• All Ages
• Animation
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurette

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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