Invader Zim TV Show Review

It all started when I found this post on Tumblr which people were using as a headcanon voice for a character from Homestuck and I was really curious to find out what show the voice was from, so I Googled some of the lines and found the show Invader Zim. It never aired on free-to-air TV in Australia so I hadn’t heard of it before. I looked up some reviews for it and found that is was often praised as a good show, so I watched a random episode from season 2. It didn’t seem that great to me but I decided to give it another chance and start off with the first episode and thus became hooked to a children’s cartoon. Warning that this post may contain spoilers.

Invader Zim is an animated TV show that first aired in 2001 on Nickelodeon. It was created by Jhonen Vasquez, written by Jhonen Vasquez, Frank Conniff, Roman Dirge, Rob Hummel, Danielle Koenig, Courtney Lilly and Eric Trueheart, and directed by Steve Ressel. The main cast is Richard Steven Horvitz (Zim), Rosearik Rikki Simons (GIR), Andy Berman (Dib) and Melissa Fahn (Gaz).

One of the things that struck me about this show was the odd form of humour it employs. It’s a mixture between dark humour (which I enjoy) and stupidity-based humour (which I usually despise) and yet I found the show hilarious even in parts that I would usually just find really annoying. I can’t put on finger on why that is, but I have a feeling it’s because of the charm of the show that grows on you as you watch. I think I found the later episodes funnier than the earlier ones for this reason, and the episode I originally watched to see what the show was like was a lot funnier the second time around.

For a children’s cartoon it has surprisingly good continuity. There are references to past episodes and events that occur that would make less to no sense if the previous episodes hadn’t been watched (for example, Dib possessing Tak’s spaceship). Despite this, however, the actual story progresses very little which is mostly why I’m upset about it being cancelled. It would have so much potential if it was continued with a constant storyline and had a proper ending.

For a show aimed towards ‘tweens’ and children, it’s actually quite gruesome. While there are limitations on the language that can be used and violence shown (‘bloody GIR’ was not put into the show for this reason, but can be seen in a single frame in some episodes) there is one episode in particular that is very violent. In ‘Dark Harvest’, Zim is show replacing the organs of other children and stuffing them into his own body. In fact, this very episode was mentioned in the trial of Scott Dyleski (who was found guilty of murder) because of the comments he made while watching the episode.

The show was cancelled part way through season two leaving at least twenty-three episodes and a TV-movie unfinished (you can still find the transcript for 10 episodes unfinished episodes and some audio transcripts; some fans have even drawn their own animations to fit the transcript) due to having a high budget and low ratings (although the first season was critically acclaimed with the first episode winning two awards and I personally believe that Nick just couldn’t find the right target audience for it). Although, only the first season actually aired on TV in 2001, the completed part of the second season was released on DVD in 2004 and aired in 2006. If only they had cancelled the show one day later, there would be two more completed episodes!

The show is far from perfect, the animation style isn’t what I’d call the best, and the script in some scenes is lacking. I’m not sure if I’d call this a negative but there are a few jokes that are used repeatedly throughout the series and could be seen as monotonous like when Zim asks a question that he’s already been told the answer to.

The music, like the show, is often dark with some pretty random happy pieces. A lot of the music could actually be used in movies and games designed for adults. Most of the music is composed by Kevin Manthei, except for the main title music (Mark Tortorici).

Favourite character/actor: Zim (Richard Steven Horvitz)

Least favourite character/actor: Bill (Adam Paul)

Favourite episode/scene: From the aired episodes; Dib’s Wonderful Life of Doom. From the unaired episodes; Mopiness of Doom

Least favourite episode/scene: The Sad, Sad Tale of Chickenfoot

Rating; 3.5/5

Picture Sources

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