"Bravest Warriors" (Cartoon Hangover). Breehn Burns' splendid realization of Pen "Adventure Time" Ward's 2009 pilot about a group of Mars-based teenage somewhat-superheroes returns this week, after some months' absence, with the first of the last three episodes of its second season. Though they are their own special animals, there are many aesthetic and philosophical resonances between "Adventure Time" and "Bravest Warriors," which Breehn (who has been Ward's roommate) developed with Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi of "Pete & Pete" fame; Ward's confident hand is evident in "Warrior's" design (and the universal noselessness of its characters), but the two series also share an excited sense of infinite narrative possibility; of casually suggested complicated mechanics and mythologies; poetic language (I can't think of another show that would produce a phrase like "an octave of death"); and, above all, a trust in the power of beauty, love and melancholy. (The melancholy of innocence, the melancholy of experience, and the melancholy of innocence as it melts into experience.) Ward's original idea was for heroes who would travel the galaxy "saving cute alien worlds with their emotions" -- and cute aliens are present and accounted for, of whom the cutest is Catbug, surely the most adorable cartoon character in the whole infinity of multiversal infinities -- but in Breehn's series, the feelings mostly affect the feelers. One important question, and one the first new episode, "The Parasox Pub" concerns, is the fate of Warrior Chris, which is to say the fate of his relationship with Warrior Beth, the object of his demurring unspoken love -- a fate on which the fate of all his future selves depends. That episode is here; to start at the beginning, which is where you should begin, begin here.
"D-Day 360" (
First up is "D-Day 360," a visually overheated heated patchwork -- though not without interest -- that seems aimed at viewers whose sense of reality has been formed inside video games: It leans heavily on computer-generated or manipulated imagery, of the two-dimensional "three-dimensional" sort, in order to add immediacy and emotion, but the product seems more fictive than factual, more plastic than actual. (Here, as in the "Nova" special and in national mind, the invasion is nearly synonymous with the Americans' bloody taking of the beach code-named Omaha, though there were five landing points and British and Canadian forces also involved.) There is also an ongoing numerical hook, in which statistics are graphically inserted into the action (appearing in the trail of a bullet, perhaps, or lining up like billboards down Omaha Beach) and which turns the film into a kind of extended math problem. (And fair, enough -- there was a lot of math involved.)
Better is the "Nova" episode; as a science series, the emphasis is on the research and the technology that went in to making the whole thing possible (the shallow-draft Higgins boat, the floating tank, the portable harbor), with an archaeological component in which the wreck-strewn sea bed at Omaha is mapped by sonar and visited by submarine. (One British nonagenarian undersea passenger served during the war in a tiny spy sub, mapping and photographing the coast prior to the invasion; another, who almost drowned in the landing, is inspired to talk about his experience after mute decades. It was, says the researcher who rides with him, "the first time that I felt that the multi-beam data had a soul.") Fun fact: French postcards, the nice not the naughty kind, were solicited from the British public to help build a picture of the terrain.
"One Night Only: An All-Star Comedy Tribute to Don Rickles" (Spike, Wednesday). From the
Fey: "You can feel his spirit in this room tonight."
Poehler: "Tina, he is here."