Rodger Bumpass, Lucille Bliss
- Buy the DVD
Reviewed by Will Harris
ven the most devoted TV critic can’t catch every series when it originally airs, and given the prevalence of TV-DVD releases, you can’t always keep up with programs that way, either. Given that I know these things to be true, it really shouldn’t surprise me that I’d been unaware of the Nickelodeon series “Invader Zim” until this latest reissue of the show’s first season – and yet, it does. I wasn’t even five minutes into my initial viewing of the first episode (“The Nightmare Begins”) before I was convinced that I was head-over-heels in love, so I just can’t help but feel that this is less a case of not having enough hours in the day to watch everything and more a case of just not paying enough damned attention.
Zim, for the others who are unaware of his existence, is from the planet Irk, and yes, he is here on Earth as an invader. Like a modern day Marvin the Martin, Zim has big plans for our planet, and they start with attempting to bring it down from the inside by posing as a typical human youngster – which would be great, except that Zim’s superiors can’t be bothered with him. The back story here is that the citizens of Irk tried to take over the galaxy once upon a time with an event labeled Operation Impending Doom, but Zim hosed up his assignment so badly that he was banished to the dreaded planet Foodcourtia. When word of Operation Impending Doom II made its way to Zim, however, he blew off his banishment and returned to Irk, yearning to participate. Just to get rid of them, they threw him a bone and gave the coordinates to a “mystery planet” that hadn’t been explored – like, to the point where they weren’t even really sure if there was a planet there. But there was, and it was Earth, so hey, thanks for that, Irk.
Tagging along with Zim on his assignment is a SIR (standard information retrieval) unit which goes by the name of GIR, possibly because his disguise on Earth is that of Zim’s pet dog. Mind you, he looks like the most pitifully ragged dog you’ve ever seen, but given that no one in their right mind would believe that Zim was human, they’re perfect together. Still, they manage to fool just about everyone on the planet, with the exception of Dib, a schoolmate of Zim’s who recognizes him as an alien and is forever out to expose his identity to the world. As if they’d ever believe him.
Like many Nickelodeon shows, the sensibilities of “Invader Zim” are decidedly skewed, with a sense of humor that’s clearly aimed way more at parents than it is at children, but you don’t hear the parents complaining – or if you do, then you can write them off as totally uncool parents. Once in awhile, the show tackles typical kid issues like friendship, peer pressure, and that sort of thing, but it spends the majority of its time turning sci-fi clichés on their ear and scoring big laughs with the geek set in the process. You don’t have to be a geek, though, to appreciate the evil, cackling delivery of Richard Steven Horvitz as Zim, or the complete cluelessness that Rosearik Rikki Simons brings to the voice of GIR.
If you’ve got a kid and you want to warp their sense of humor at an early age, “Invader Zim” should definitely be on your playlist, and this Season One set is the perfect place to start. It is not, however, the place to stop, as you’re about to learn.
Special Features: Not a freaking one. If this isn’t officially the biggest disappointment in the history of animated TV series, it certainly feels like it ought to fall within the top five, except that there’s a caveat to this complaint: this isn’t the first time the show has been released on DVD. As such, the best bet for fans who want the full “Invader Zim” experience is to hunt down the complete series set that was released in a replica of Zim’s house and, in addition to featuring commentaries, interviews, and animatics strewn across the discs that contain the episodes, there’s also a bonus disc that’s wall-to-wall special features.