Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, The

Tagged: TV

US animated online tv series (2008-2010). Cartoon Network Studios, Saerom Animation. Created and directed by Thurop Van Orman. Writers include Alex Hirsch, John Infantino, Steve Little, Patrick McHale, Kent Osborne, J.G. Quintel, Cole Sanchez, Sean Szeles, Pendleton Ward and Somvilay Xayaphone. Voice cast includes Brian Doyle-Murray, Steve Little, Thurop Van Orman and Roz Ryan. 46 22-minute episodes (usually comprising two stories) and seven shorts. Colour.

In a loosely Victorian-era world, a naive and optimistic kiss-curled young lad named Flapjack (Orman) and the roguish but inept former pirate Captain K'nuckles (Doyle-Murray) live in Bubbie (Ryan), a motherly blue whale; they spend their time either at sea or at Stormalong Harbor (a town raised on stilts in the middle of the ocean) where they have adventures, often revolving round the search for candy – which here performs the McGuffin role of alcohol, gold and Drugs – or the fabled Candied Island.

The humour is surreal and Absurdist, such as when a map to Candied Island is stolen by a barbershop quartet. Closer to SF, we meet Scientist brothers: one lives Under the Sea and builds a Steampunk whale "powered by the angst of thirty juvenile delinquents"; the other invents a flying machine and falls for Bubbie. It might be argued Captain K'nuckles is part Cyborg as his limbs and nether regions are wooden yet fully functional. There are talking chimpanzees (see Apes as Human), a cloud civilization, a giant malicious baby and many sea-Monsters. The series finale has our heroes transformed into mermen, then fish, then – to the aghast cries of Stormalong Harbor's inhabitants – flesh and blood people (played by Orman and his son).

The show enjoys being creepy (see Horror in SF), with characters prone to nightmarish hallucinations; Stormalong Harbor's inhabitants are mainly grotesques, often seen in unflattering close-up. The most unsettling is Doctor Barber (Little), who is perhaps too fond of medical experiments (see Medicine, Mad Scientist) – one involves using hair and fish-heads to create artificial life: his intentions are worthy – the beings are intended to become barbers who give "elite haircuts" to the populace – but they rebel against their creator, coalescing to become one immense fish-head barber ... and are only stopped when caught littering and made to do community service.

The animation style is varied, normally 2D – backgrounds often resemble the scenery designs of puppet theatres – but also using stop-motion and live-action. Odd and amusing (see Humour), the show was also notable for the number of staff who went on to create major animation series: Adventure Time (Ward), Gravity Falls (Hirsch), Over the Garden Wall (McHale) and Regular Show (Quintel). [SP]

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