I’ve mentioned in previous reviews of kids shows that my love for Madman is deeply rooted in the release of my favourite childhood shows (Samurai Pizza Cats, Sailor Moon, Johnny Bravo etc). Earthworm Jim (1995-1996) was one I had pretty much forgotten about, which is weird because I watched it all the time at my grandparents place and used to call my Grandad ‘Earthworm Joe’ as he had earthworms. So yet again Madman have pleased the inner child in me with the release of two Earthworm Jim seasons.
Earthworm Jim is a TV series based on a video game of the same name. Jim was an average earthworm until he crawled up from the earth where a super suit fell from the sky onto him and gave him, well… super strength (this is all detailed in the theme song and is the same premise as the video game). Alongside his sidekick Peter Puppy who turns into a Hulk-ish being whenever he is angry or hurt, Jim fights off villains such as “Queen Slug for a Butt”, Evil the Cat,” Psy-Crow and “Professor Monkey for a Head”. Jim is voiced by Dan Castellaneta, you may know him better as the voice of Homer Simpson. Jim’s a bit of a bumbling idiot, but is totally lovable.
It’s a fairly formulaic show. Each episode starts off with Jim and Peter encountering a villain and then they proceed to save the day after some absurd plan, and the show ends with a homage to the video game in the form of a cow landing on a character. What makes the show so great, funny and interesting is the writing. There’s lots of video game and some pop culture references which is neat but the jokes are clever and witty. Sometimes watching kids shows as an adult I see how much the cleverness is probably wasted on kids. I don’t like indulging the inner-child too much because I’m a mama and am supposed to be responsible and all that jazz, but really as a kid I liked Jim cos he was stupid and funny, but as an adult I see the show as witty and absurd with a health dose of silliness.
Like any good 90s kids show or film there’s also jokes that go over kids head although they are not all adult in nature, but a particular stand out one was the following:
Earthworm Jim: Quick, little buddy! Whip me! Whip me!
Peter Puppy: I beg your pardon?
Earthworm Jim: I mean, use me like a whip!
Peter Puppy: Oh! Heh. Right.
But there’s a lot of political and cultural gags too. In a list of most dangerous places, among the land of large hammers and others Jim drops “Detroit”. Everyone from UNICEF to hillbillies are ripe for poking fun at.
The comedy has aged well although a few running bits are a bit overused. It’s silly, colorful, surreal, and sure to be a hit with any kid who likes crazy, absurd and slightly grotesque cartoons. There’s lots of fourth-wall breaking, funny narration and public opinion is that it stays pretty truthful to the video game but expands the universe by giving characters more depth and story and introduces some new characters too. The main complaint from the video game fans is that Jim no longer has a Southern accent and comes off to manic in the show. Having never played the game myself I loved his voice and his demeanor, but if you’re a video game purist you’ve probably already seen the show and decided if you hate it or not.
Season One runs for 4 hours and 45 minutes and is a three disc-set. Season Two runs for 3 hours and 45 minutes and is a two disc set. Season One consists of 13 episodes and Season Two consists of 10 episodes. These two releases make up the entirety of the show. There is a complete DVD collection but these two stand alone releases are the same, perhaps there’s some extras with a complete set, I am not sure but imports tend to cost a lot more than local releases and at $19.99 a season they’re great value for EWJ fans. No qualms with this set, audio and visual qualilty are great.