Over the Garden Wall (TV series)

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Over the Garden Wall
Over the Garden Wall poster.jpg
Genre
Created by Patrick McHale
Based on Tome of the Unknown (2013)
Directed by Animation Directors:
Robert Alvarez
Larry Leichliter
Eddy Houchins
Ken Bruce
Art Director:
Nick Cross
Creative director(s)
  • Nate Cash
  • Bert Youn
Voices of
Composer(s) The Blasting Company
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 10 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Patrick McHale
Producer(s) Pernelle Hayes
Running time 11 minutes
Production company(s) Cartoon Network Studios
Distributor Cartoon Network
Broadcast
Original channel Cartoon Network
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
Audio format Stereo
Original run November 3 – 7, 2014

Over the Garden Wall is an American animated television miniseries created by Patrick McHale for Cartoon Network. The series centers around two brothers who travel across a strange forest in order to find their way home. The show is based on McHale's animated short film, Tome of the Unknown, which was produced as part of Cartoon Network Studios' shorts development program.

The show marks the first miniseries on the network, who commenced its production in March 2014. McHale first envisioned the show in 2004, and pitched it to the network in 2006. After working on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and Adventure Time, the network expressed interest in McHale pitching a pilot. That pilot became the catalyst for Over the Garden Wall. The show features Elijah Wood and Collin Dean as the protagonists, and Melanie Lynskey as a bluebird named Beatrice. Over the Garden Wall was broadcast throughout the week of November 3 to 7, 2014.

Plot[edit]

The series centers around two brothers, Wirt and Greg (Elijah Wood and Collin Dean respectively), who become lost in a strange forest called the Unknown. In order to find their way home, the two must travel across the forest, apparently magic, with the help of the wise, elderly Woodsman (Christopher Lloyd) and Beatrice (Melanie Lynskey), an irritable bluebird who travels with the boys in order to undo a curse that has affected her whole family.[1]

Wirt, the elder brother, is worry-prone and would rather keep to himself than to have to make a decision. His two passions are the clarinet and poetry, but he keeps this private out of fear of being mocked. On the other hand, Greg, the younger brother, is all about play and being carefree, much to Wirt's chagrin and the danger of himself and others. Greg carries a frog (Jack Jones), whose name is undetermined and who can communicate only through singing. Stalking the main cast is the Beast (Samuel Ramey), an ancient creature who leads lost souls astray until they give up and turn into "Edelwood trees".

In the final four episodes, it's revealed that Wirt and Greg are actually two boys from the modern era. Wirt and Greg's strange appearance stems from the fact it was Halloween the night they were transported into the Unknown. Wirt, attempting to take back an embarrassing poetry tape he made for a girl he likes, had followed her to a graveyard scary story gathering before a police officer scared him and Greg into jumping over the cemetery's garden wall. After they landed on train tracks, Greg was almost hit by a train, but Wirt pushed them both off a hill into a lake in an attempt to save him, knocking them both unconscious in the process.

In the very end, Wirt and Greg wake up in a hospital, with Greg recapping the events of what happened. The series ends with a slow montage of how Wirt and Greg affected the inhabitants of the Unknown.[2]

Production[edit]

Production for Over the Garden Wall commenced in March 2014. It marks the first miniseries on the network, with an order of ten episodes for the first season.[3] Created by Patrick McHale, a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts,[4] the show is based on the animated short film Tome of the Unknown, which he wrote and directed for Cartoon Network Studios as part of their shorts development program.[3]

The show was first envisioned in 2004 with a scarier and more adventure-based storyline. Before working as a storyboard artist on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, McHale pitched Garden Wall in 2006. He saw it as "a possible Halloween special", but had trouble adapting the premise with a larger story arc.[4] After his work for Flapjack, McHale moved on to Adventure Time, where he served as creative director, and subsequently as a writer. The network later asked him if he saw interest in developing a pilot, which led to him returning to his pitch, polishing it and pitching it again to the network.[5]:29 They ultimately settled upon the miniseries format, as McHale felt that it would lead to "something that felt higher quality than what we could do with a regular series".[4]

The show features Wood (reprising his role from the short), Lynskey and Dean as the main voice cast. It has been characterized as a "comedy-fantasy" series;[3] in an interview dated October 2014, McHale stated that, while it mostly adheres to this genre, there would be some frightening moments which try to be "an experience for the audience".[4] Despite this, he and his crew tried to maintain a balance with "other episodes that are just light and funny".[6]:24 The same interview also has McHale depict his inspirations for the show, including children's literature of the 19th century, early 20th-century American music and folk art in general. Additionally, McHale sought inspiration from Gustave Doré and "Alice Comedies" for the show's "layouts".[4] Likewise for its music, McHale shared that it would contain various styles, including "classic American, opera singing", but that it would not contain much of any Broadway qualities.[4]

Meanwhile, Nick Cross served as art director and Nate Cash as supervising director; both worked with McHale alongside storyboard artists located in New York and Chicago. This distance proved difficult for McHale, who found it "particularly daunting considering the idiosyncratic nature of the production".[4]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

McHale's original short, Tome of the Unknown, was screened at the 2014 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, where McHale earned the Bruce Corwin Award for best animated short film.[7] Meanwhile, at the 2013 Ottawa International Animation Festival, it received an honorable mention.[8]

At the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International, a preview of the show was shown along with various panels for other shows on the network.[9] It was also previewed at the 2014 New York Comic Con, which Hale and the main cast attended.[10] The show made its premiere on November 3, 2014 on Cartoon Network, and ran over five consecutive nights.[11] Preceding its premiere, Patrick Kevin Day of the Los Angeles Times called it "funny, creepy" and, from the premise, "not as simple as it sounds".[4] In TV Guide and also before the premiere, Megan Walsh-Boyle felt that the show's fictional universe "sounds like a world worth getting lost in".[6]:24 Meredith Woerner of io9 called a preview of the show "amazing", "weird, and cute and great", reflecting "all the things we love about this oddball animation renaissance we are currently living in".[12] Conversely, Amid Amidi of Cartoon Brew judged from the same preview that the animation was lacking and discounted from its storytelling, music and production design, though he was still looking forward to it.[13]

Garden Wall premiered on November 3, 2014; the entirety of it was published on iTunes preceding its broadcast.[14] Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times wrote that it was "a little too folksy and fairy story" at times, but that its "contemporary strangeness wins out", and concluded that "it is throughout something to behold".[15] Lloyd later wrote that it evoked "a kind of artisanal quality", both in its design and setting, and though the writing felt "a little too intent on its own folksiness", it became more enjoyable throughout.[16] In the New York Times, Mike Hale also felt the writing was sometimes weak and the stories "perilously thin", but concluded that McHale developed an environment worth living in.[17]

Writing in the Guardian, Brian Moylan wrote that the visuals were "absolutely stunning", and that the stories contained "a certain darkness to it that is both mellow and twee at the same time, with a fair amount of anxiety creeping around the edges".[18] Brian Lowry of Variety wrote that Garden Wall was "an admirable experiment", but not one to sustain "the five-night commitment", calling it "slightly mismatched" while praising a departure from "the more abrasive characteristic" of the network's primetime content.[19] Kevin McDonough of the Illinois Daily Journal criticized some of the writing, but summed it up as "an ambitious cartoon" for both younger and older audiences.[20]

The series will air in Cartoon Network in Australia from December 15 to 19, 2014.[21]

Comic book adaptation[edit]

A one-shot comic book adaptation of the show was announced in October 2014. Produced by KaBoom!, an imprint of Boom! Studios, the comic was released on November 5, 2014. The comic was supervised by McHale and was produced as an oversized special. The comic was illustrated by Jim Campbell, a storyboard artist on the television series.[22]

Episodes[edit]

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
Pilot 1 N/A
Series 10 November 3, 2014 (2014-11-03) November 7, 2014 (2014-11-07)

Pilot (2013)[edit]

No. Title Written and directed by Release date
Pilot "Tome of the Unknown" Patrick McHale N/A

Wirt and Gregory grow tired of walking, so they borrow a car from a romantic songster made of vegetables.

Guest voices: Natasha Leggero as Beatrice, and C.W. Stoneking as John Crops

Series (2014)[edit]

No. Title Written and storyboarded by Story by Original air date U.S. viewers
(in millions)
1 "The Old Grist Mill" Steve Wolfhard, Natasha Allegri, and Zac Gorman Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale November 3, 2014 (2014-11-03) 1.187[23]
Brothers Wirt and Greg, the latter of which has just found a nameless frog he decided to keep and is now attempting to name, end up lost in the forest on their way home and are informed by an old Woodsman that they are lost in a forest called the Unknown and warns them of a creature known as the Beast that lurks within it. Taking them to his oil mill, Wirt and Greg decide to stay for the night but problems rise when the younger brother leaves a trail of candy that a wolf they believe to be the Beast follows. Wirt and Greg struggle to stay alive while evading the wolf. They ultimately send the wolf into the water turning it into a dog, revealing it not to be the Beast. However, they end up destroying the mill to the Woodsman's anger. He gives the brothers a set of directions to a nearby town, telling them both to beware the Unknown.
2 "Hard Times at the Huskin' Bee" Bert Youn, Aaron Renier, and Patrick McHale Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale November 3, 2014 (2014-11-03) 1.187[23]

Beatrice (a bluebird who can speak) ends up joining the brothers and Greg's frog after they help her out of a bush she was seemingly tangled in. The trio arrive in a strange town, Pottsfield, that looks deserted but all is not as it seems. The town is holding their annual harvest festival. The Pottsfield Chamber of Commerce, which consists of what seems to be living pumpkins, lead by Enoch a giant pumpkin head, finds the trio guilty of trespassing, destruction of property, and disturbing the peace. They are sentenced to a few hours of manual labor. They soon realize that the people of Pottsfield are the risen dead who wear pumpkin heads. After being freed, the brothers decide to follow Beatrice to find a woman named Adelaide, who she claims can help them get home.

Guest voice: Chris Isaak as Enoch
3 "Schooltown Follies" Jim Campbell and Laura Park Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale November 4, 2014 (2014-11-04) 1.244[24]

Wirt, Greg, Beatrice and Greg's frog travel through the forest, but soon Greg and his frog go missing. While searching for them, Wirt and Beatrice come across a school full of animal students being taught by a human teacher, Miss Langtree. She mistakes them for students telling them to join the class, which Wirt does, trying to prove a point to Beatrice as she had earlier insulted him by calling him a push-over. Meanwhile, Greg and some animal friends he has just made are chased by a gorilla and hide in the school. Everyone sits down for lunch, but no one is happy as the potatoes are very bland. Greg cheers everyone up by adding molasses to the potatoes. The fun is stopped by Langtree's father, who decides to close the school down as he cannot afford to keep it open. The next day, Wirt, Greg, and Beatrice organize a benefit concert for the school, which earns enough money to keep it open. Suddenly, the gorilla shows up again, but when Wirt trips him over it is revealed to be Miss Langtree's fiancé in a costume, who could not get the costume off and had been trying to get someone to help him. He finally gives an engagement ring to Miss Langree, as he had earned enough money from wearing the gorilla costume at the circus to buy it.

Guest voices: Janet Klein as Miss Langtree, Sam Marin as Old Man Langtree, and Thomas Lennon as Jimmy Brown
4 "Songs of the Dark Lantern" Pendleton Ward, Bert Youn, and Steve McLeod Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale November 4, 2014 (2014-11-04) 1.244[24]
Wirt and Greg visit a tavern to ask for directions to Adelaide's house. Beatrice, who was thrown out of the tavern due to being a bird, wanders off at the sound of the Woodsman chopping trees. Meanwhile, Wirt and Greg become acquainted with the people of the tavern through song. The tavern people warn the brothers about the Beast and reveal that the creature turns people into trees of oil to burn in his lantern. Wirt and Greg speculate that the Woodsman might be the Beast. Wirt steals a talking horse named Fred and finds Beatrice unconscious next to the Woodsman, believing his speculations, Wirt and Greg save Beatrice and ride off. Meanwhile the Beast appears to the Woodsman, and reveals that the Woodsman's daughter's flame of life is in the lantern. The Beast asks where the brothers are heading to.
5 "Mad Love" Natasha Allegri and Zac Gorman Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale November 5, 2014 (2014-11-05) 1.553[25]

Wirt and Greg claim to be the nephews of the deranged, but wealthy Quincy Endicott so they may steal two cent from him in order to pay for a ferry that will cross the river to Adelaide's house. In order to distract him, Greg, Greg's frog and Fred convince Quincy to search for a ghost he supposedly saw one night in a bedroom and was instantly smitten with. Meanwhile, Wirt and Beatrice search for the money and bond over their collective problems. Beatrice reveals she was once human, but she and her family were cursed by a blue bird she threw a rock at and were turned into blue birds themselves, and Adelaide is the only one that can change them back. Wirt reveals he has a crush on a girl back home named Sara and is afraid of being seen as weird due to his love of poetry and playing the clarinet. The groups reunite and discover that the ghost was in fact Quincy's neighbor and that both their houses have been growing so large they had connected together. The two embrace each other and award Greg a cent each due to his help. Now with enough money, the group, aside from Fred who decides to stay behind and work for Quincy, head to the ferry, but this plan in interrupted when Greg throws the money away.

Guest voices: John Cleese as Quincy Enditcott, and Bebe Neuwirth as Margueritte Grey
6 "Lullaby in Frogland" Bert Youn and Nick Edwards Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale November 5, 2014 (2014-11-05) 1.553[25]

Wirt, Greg, Beatrice, and Greg's frog sneak aboard the ferry, which is filled with frogs in human clothing, without paying. Suddenly they are chased by frog guards and disguise themselves as a member of the ferry's band. Soon the band starts performing and Wirt reluctantly plays a bassoon thanks to Beatrice's encouragement. Greg's frog then unexpectedly starts to sing, accidentally blowing their cover in the process. The frogs of the boat are so moved by their performance they allow them to stay on board. When they arrive to their destination, Beatrice tries to convince them to stay in the Unknown and not to visit Adelaide. That night, Beatrice flies away and is unknowingly followed by Wirt and Greg to Adelaide's house. There it is revealed that Beatrice has been lying to Wirt and Greg this whole time and had originally planned to give them both to Adelaide as slaves in exchange for a scissor that would lift the curse off herself and her family, but has had a change of heart due to the time she has spent with the brothers. Adelaide attempts to capture Wirt and Gregory, but is stopped by Beatrice. Wirt, hurt by Beatrice's lies, takes Greg and leaves her behind. The brothers and Greg's frog continue their journey, without Beatrice.

Guest voice: John Cleese as Adelaide
7 "The Ringing of the Bell" Patrick McHale, Bert Youn, and Tom Herpich Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale November 6, 2014 (2014-11-06) 1.193[26]

Greg, Wirt, and Greg's frog are walking in the rain, when they come across the Woodsman, who warns them of the Beast, who is ready to claim the brothers. They run from the Woodsman and come across a lonely cottage in which they can stay out the rain. However, the house is not uninhabited, as they come across a young girl named Lorna who warns them to hide as her care-giver, the grotesque Auntie Whispers, is coming. Auntie Whispers, who seems to have a taste for human flesh, asks Lorna if anyone else is in the houses and uses a bell that can control the girl at its ringing to get her to tell her they are not alone. However, Auntie Whispers assumes Lorna is referring to the basket of turtles in the house and continues walking to her bedroom. The brothers decide to help Lorna escape by helping her get all her house work done. Just before they leave, Greg and his frog accidentally awaken Auntie Whispers who warns them to stay away from Lorna or they will be eaten. They soon discover what Auntie Whispers means by this as Lorna transforms into a horrific demon, revealing she is the one with the taste for human flesh. Before they are devoured, Greg shakes his frog who has eaten Auntie Whispers's bell and Wirt commands the demon to leave, freeing Lorna of its control. Lorna, even though she is free of the demon, decides to stay with Auntie Whispers as she realizes she is her true family. After leaving Lorna, Wirt begins to lose hope of ever leaving the Unknown, pleasing the Beast who is watching from afar.

Guest voices: Tim Curry as Auntie Whispers, and Shannyn Sossamon as Lorna
8 "Babes in the Woods" Mark Bodnar, Jim Campbell, and Bert Youn Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale November 6, 2014 (2014-11-06) 1.193[26]

The brothers and Greg's frog are sailing down a lake, when they hear the Beast's singing, which does not bother Wirt as he has given up hope of getting home, but Greg remains hopeful. They soon reach land and decide to sleep under a tree for the night. Greg has a dream of an angelic cloud city, where he is warmly welcome by its residence. The festivities are stopped when the North Wind starts destroying the city, but Greg manages to defeat the North Wind and saves the city. The Queen of the Clouds appears to Greg, allowing him one wish for saving the city. He wishes for a way home, but The Queen informs him he cannot return home with Wirt as the Beast has already claimed him. Greg instead wishes to take Wirt's place, leaving with the Beast. Wirt chases after them, but falls through some ice and nearly drowns before being saved by Beatrice and a fish who was fishing nearby. He then passes out.

Guest voices: Deborah Voigt as Queen of the Clouds, and Mark Bodnar as The North Wind
9 "Into the Unknown" Cole Sanchez, Vi Nguyen, and Zac Gorman Cole Sanchez, Bert Youn, Amalia Levari,
Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale
November 7, 2014 (2014-11-07) 1.128[27]
Taking place before the events of the first episode, it's Halloween and Wirt finishes an audio cassette tape for his crush, Sara. He fashions a costume out of an old Santa hat, and a band cloak. He goes to a football game, where he meets up with his brother, Greg. Wirt thinks about giving the tape to Sara, who is the football teams mascot. Greg takes the tape as Wirt chases after him. Greg gives it to Sara's friends, as they tease Wirt for having a crush on Sara. They tell him that he should hurry, because another boy, Jason Funderburker, was planning on asking her out at a party that night. Wirt decides to leave as Greg follows. He realizes that they never got the tape back, and both brothers head back. They end up at the Halloween party, as Wirt chases in after Greg. He meets up with Sara, who invites him to go to the graveyard with her and her friends. He declines and tries to get the tape from her jacket. However, Sara comes back for it, causing Wirt and Greg to follow them. At the graveyard, the group is telling ghost stories, when Greg tries to cause a "distraction" for Wirt. The plan backfires and Greg unwittingly reveals that Wirt is hiding behind a tombstone. The police show up as a joke, but taking the situation seriously the group runs off, as Wirt and Greg scale a wall at the edge of the graveyard. At the top, Wirt notices Sara finding the tape in her jacket and panics. They jump down onto a set of train tracks on the other side, as Wirt blames Greg and his stepfather for ruining his life. Paying no attention to what Wirt has said, Greg finds a frog in the bushes. Just then a train comes down the tracks, heading straight for them. Wirt and Greg jump out of the way, but roll down a steep hill and into a lake, knocking them both unconscious. As Wirt wakes up after the events of the previous episode, he finds himself in a nest with Beatrice's family. He heads off with Greg's frog into a snow storm to look for his brother.
10 "The Unknown" Natasha Allegri, Jim Campbell, and Tom Herpich Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale November 7, 2014 (2014-11-07) 1.128[27]
After leaving Wirt with her family, Beatrice is seen flying through the storm. She finds Greg performing meaningless tasks for the Beast before she is whisked away by a strong wind. Wirt is seen wandering in the storm holding Greg's frog, when Beatrice crashes into them and they make their way to where Beatrice last saw Greg. As the sun sets, having salvaged what little Edelwood he had left, the Woodsman ventures into the woods and finds Greg slowly transforming into a new Edelwood tree. The Woodman refuses to allow this as he attempts to free Greg before fighting the Beast away from the clearing as Wirt and Beatrice arrive. Coming to, Greg reveals to Wirt that he stole his "Rock facts" rock from his neighbor Mrs. Daniel's garden. He asks Wirt to return it for him once he is gone, to which Wirt refuses, and decides to name Greg's frog "Jason Funderburker" to cheer him up. Wirt then sees the Woodsman knocked down at his feet as the Beast appears, offering to keep Greg's soul alive inside the lantern in exchange for Wirt taking over the Woodsman's duties in keeping it lit. Wirt is tempted to accept this offer, when he realizes that the flame within the lantern is actually the Beast's own source of life. After explaining this, Wirt ignores the Beast's further lies of the flame and proceeds to free Greg while asking for Beatrice to come with them. But she declines as she she wants to return home and admit to her family that she is responsible for their curse. Wirt gives Beatrice Adelaide's magic scissors, which Wirt still had from their encounter with her. They head off as the Woodsman, mortified to learn the truth that he was never keeping his daughter alive, extinguishes the flame within the lantern, and more importantly, ends the Beast's life, once and for all. The scene cuts to black as Wirt and Beatrice exchange one final goodbye. Wirt wakes up under the lake, getting Greg and his frog to the surface as the police and his friends show up. The brothers are taken by ambulance to the hospital. Wirt wakes up at the sound of Sara. He asks for Greg, who is standing near him telling Wirt's friends about the adventures they just had. Sara also tells Wirt that she didn't listen to the tape yet, because she doesn't own a cassette player. Wirt offers for her to listen to it at his house, as she accepts. A shot is shown of Greg shaking his frog, showing that Auntie Whispers's magic bell is still inside it, meaning the events that took place were not just a dream. Back in the Unknown, the Woodsman is sitting on his porch when his daughter comes out of his home, having been brought back to life. The other Unknown residents are shown to be living happy lives, including Beatrice and her family restored to human form. Greg's frog, now with a proper name, "Jason Funderburker", closes the episode. One final shot is shown of Greg returning the rock to Mrs. Daniel's garden.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]