Invader Judge Gordon Sullivan is just trying to fit in.
"Stand back ignorant Earth filth, or prepare to…get really hurt."
Seriously, I wish I had been at the pitch meeting for Invader Zim: "Hi, I'm Jhonen Vasequez. I wrote and drew a cult comic about an underage serial killer called Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. I'd like to produce a new show for Nickelodeon about a bumbling alien who arrives to prepare Earth for invasion and eventual extinction. The show will be dark and quirky by children's show standards, but not quite as dark and quirky as Johnny." No wonder the show never quite got its legs and was cancelled midway through its second season.
For those not in the know, Invader Zim is the story of Zim, a monomaniacal alien bent on Earth's destruction. When he arrives on earth he decides, because of his short stature, to blend in as a kid with his faithful sidekick GIR. However, his plans are opposed by a fellow from Zim's new school, Dib. Dib sees through Zim's disguise immediately and tries to warn everyone about Zim's plans. The only problem is that Dib has been crying alien arrival for ages, and no one believes him now. The continuing adventures of Zim see him trying to fit in at school while blending in and avoiding Dib's interference.
Invader Zim: Season One includes all of the first season episodes spread across four discs:
Science fiction is often best used when it takes futuristic technology and uses it to illuminate the present day. Although it's a ostensibly a kid's show, Invader Zim continues that tradition in grand form, throwing in some surreal humor along the way. Zim's literally alien perspective allows Vasquez and crew to provide a humorously insightful view of Western culture. Everything from high school friendships to videogames are skewered by Zim and Dib. The occasional forays into the truly bizarre (like a genetic virus that turns Dib into bologna) keep the series fresh and funny.
Zim certainly has its fans, and is worth watching for those who appreciate the more surreal side of kids' TV. However, this DVD release is a bit of a mixed blessing.
First, the good:
• Invader Zim is finally available again. Nickelodeon took a while to broadcast all the episodes that were completed, and I can only assume that the number of fans have grown since the original single volume and "Complete Set" releases of yesteryear. Now fans old and new won't have to auction an organ to have Zim on DVD.
• Spreading these episodes across four discs ensures they are technically excellent. The video looks good, with no macroblocking or other compression problems to tarnish the animation. The stereo audio is nothing special, but it keeps the dialogue audible.
Then, the bad:
• This is the third time these episodes have been on disc here in North America. The first time it was in multiple volumes that split the seasons up unnecessarily. The second was in a well-packaged collection of the complete run of the show. Both times the episodes were presented with numerous extras, from commentaries to animation samples interviews. Not so with this release, which is entirely bare bones. It's great to have an entire season of Zim in one place, but the lack of extras is a serious disappointment, especially in light of the MSRP.
Anyone who owns the previous releases of Invader Zim can skip this one entirely. Fans who've come to the show through reruns or friends can now own all the episodes without shelling out the major dough necessary to pick up a used copy of the complete series. However, the total lack of extras on this release is tremendously disappointing, and shows that even ten years on, Nickelodeon is still not quite sure how to handle Invader Zim. With a significant cut (like 50 percent) in MSRP, this release would be more palatable, but as it is, it's hard to recommend to any but the newly diehard.
Invader Zim is not guilty, but this release's lack of extras is disappointing.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2010 Gordon Sullivan; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.