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Twelve Forever

Entry updated 9 March 2020. Tagged: TV.

US animated online tv series (2015; 2019). Puny Entertainment and The Cartel for Netflix. Created by Julia Vickerman. Executive Producers Bradford Bricken, Jeff Holland, Shadi Petosky, Stan Spry and Julia Vickerman. Directors include Annisa Adjani, John Mathot and Nick Sumida. Writers include Kelsy Abbott, Spencer Rothbell, Julia Vickerman and Laura Zak. Voice cast includes Kelsy Abbott, Jaylen Barron, Stephanie Beatriz, Matt Berry, Antony Del Rio, Bridget Everett and Paul Williams. 24 mainly fourteen-minute episodes, plus the pilot. Colour.

Regina "Reggie" Abbot (Abbot), her friends Todd (Del Rio) and Esther (Barron), can travel to an Island on Endless, a Secondary World [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] with strange inhabitants and giant debris (see Great and Small). The Fantasy creatures are of the kind seen on children's Television: some are cute, others have the unsettling-to-adults quality to which children seem oblivious. The debris is a contradictory mixture of the childish (toys, lollipops) and the adult but retro (videotapes, vacuum cleaners).

Esther once tried "to build a taxonomy to understand how everything works" on the island, until meeting an elderly Scientist who'd dedicated herself to that same task; the conversation was short: "the most important thing you need to know about Endless is ..." then, with a manic laugh, snapping off her tongue as her body opened to expel singing birds and confetti.

In the real world, Reggie and Todd are members of stressed single-parent families; Esther has the full parental set, but they are pushy for her academic success. Unlike the children, the viewer sees the pressures the adults are under. When Reggie celebrates her twelfth birthday, the feminine presents from her mother, Judy (Everett), reflecting the departure from childhood, are not welcomed; nor are the books on puberty – Todd: "check it out: there's a whole chapter on nipple hair". She throws them into Endless's volcano, but they transform into a voluptuous woman – Reggie names her Butt Witch – who seems to know the island ("my grown-up wonderland") from before Reggie's arrival.

Reggie is artistic and imaginative, a storyteller; encouraged by her teachers but considered childish by her classmates. Conolly (Beatriz), fourteen and a wannabe film maker, is impressed by Reggie's design talents; but, whilst clearly crushing heavily, Reggie's panicked response is to avoid her. The first series builds to a crisis as, feeling betrayed by her friends' acceptance of adolescence, Reggie considers living permanently on Endless, despite recently meeting Elmer (Williams), a boy with a man's voice and doll limbs, the effect of unbroken decades of residence. But when Butt Witch attacks, inflicting a wound that Reggie carries back into the real world, the friends reunite to defeat her: the final scene suggests a new island has appeared.

The show's juggling of dark and light – of the real world and Endless – impresses. Each succeeds individually, but are improved by the other's presence, with Endless acting out colourful metaphorical versions of Reggie's real-world problems. This is a good and inventive series, with surrealism, pre-teen angst, Humour and twelve year-olds using flame-throwers. The pilot was a Cartoon Network production, first broadcast online in 2015. The show has not been picked up for a second season. [SP]


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