Over the Garden Wall
|Over the Garden Wall|
|Created by||Patrick McHale|
|Based on||Tome of the Unknown (2013)|
|Composer(s)||The Blasting Company|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||10 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Patrick McHale|
|Running time||110 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Cartoon Network Studios|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original network||Cartoon Network|
|Picture format||HDTV (1080i)|
|Original release||November 3 – November 7, 2014|
Over the Garden Wall is an American animated television miniseries created by Patrick McHale for Cartoon Network. The series centers on two half-brothers who travel across a strange forest in order to find their way home, encountering odd and wonderful things on their journey. 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 features Elijah Wood and Collin Dean as the protagonists Wirt and Greg, and Melanie Lynskey as a bluebird named Beatrice. Over the Garden Wall was broadcast throughout the week of November 3, 2014 to November 7, 2014.
The show marked the first miniseries on the network, which 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. Production of the show was largely handled in Burbank, California, but many of the show's storyboard artists worked from other U.S. cities, while the program's animation was outsourced to South Korea. The series' environment evokes 19th- and 20th-century Americana, while its digital backgrounds are designed to resemble grisaille paintings.
Upon its debut, the series received positive reviews from television critics, with praise focusing on its mood and characters and criticism leveled at its storytelling. In 2015, the series won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. Outside of the series, a one-shot comic book adaptation penned by McHale has been produced, with four further issues commissioned. This was eventually expanded into an ongoing series.
The series follows two half-brothers, Wirt and Greg (voiced by 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 seemingly supernatural forest with the occasional help of the wandering, mysterious and elderly Woodsman (Christopher Lloyd) and Beatrice (Melanie Lynskey), an irritable bluebird who travels with the boys in order to find a woman called Adelaide, who can supposedly undo the curse on Beatrice and her family and show the half-brothers the way home.
Wirt, the older brother, is a worry-prone teenager and would rather keep to himself than have to make a decision. His three passions are the clarinet, poetry, and architecture 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 to 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 lose their hope and willpower and turn into "Edelwood trees".
In the final two episodes, it is 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. On the other side of the wall, they landed on train tracks where Greg was almost hit by a train. Wirt pushed them both off a hill into a lake/river in an attempt to save him, knocking them both unconscious in the process.
At the end of the last episode, Wirt and Greg wake up in a hospital, with Greg telling a story but being cut off before we can hear what it's about. As the scene ends, Greg's frog begins to glow, due to having eaten a magic bell in The Unknown, suggesting that there was at least some physical aspect to the story. The series ends with a slow montage of how Wirt and Greg affected the inhabitants of the Unknown.
Production for Over the Garden Wall commenced in March 2014. The ten episodes ordered for the series marked the first miniseries on the Cartoon Network. Created by Patrick McHale, a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, the show was 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.
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. After his work for Flapjack, McHale moved on to co-develop Adventure Time, where he served as creative director, and subsequently as a writer. The network later asked him if he had interest in developing a pilot, which led to him returning to Garden Wall, polishing it and pitching it again to the network.: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".
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. In an interview dated October 2014, McHale stated that while it mostly adheres to the genre, there would be some frightening moments which try to be "an experience for the audience". Despite this, he and his crew tried to maintain a balance with "other episodes that are just light and funny".:24 In the same interview, McHale depicts 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". 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.
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".
- Emily Brundige as Sara
- Mark Bodnar as the North Wind
- John Cleese as Quincy Endicott; Adelaide
- Tim Curry as Auntie Whispers
- Noureen DeWulf as Pumpkin Gal
- Frank Fairfield as the Toy Maker
- Chris Isaak as Enoch
- Shirley Jones as Beatrice's Mother
- Janet Klein as Miss Langtree
- Thomas Lennon as Jimmy Brown
- Sam Marin as Mr. Langtree
- Judah Nelson as the Cloud City Reception Committee
- Bebe Neuwirth as Margueritte Grey
- Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton as the Highwayman
- Cole Sanchez as Jason Funderberker
- Shannyn Sossamon as Lorna
- Fred Stoller as Fred the Horse
- Deborah Voigt as Queen of the Clouds
- Audrey Wasilewski as the Tavern Keeper
|First aired||Last aired|
|Pilot||September 9, 2013|
|Miniseries||10||November 3, 2014||November 7, 2014|
|Title||Written, storyboarded and directed by||Original release date|
|"Tome of the Unknown: Harvest Melody"||Patrick McHale||September 9, 2013
May 18, 2015 (Online)
|Wirt and Gregory grow tired of walking, so they borrow a car from a romantic songwriter made of vegetables named John Crops. They travel to a town of dancing vegetable people, unknowingly bringing crows and other dangerous animals along with them, but they manage to escape while John Crops finds a lover.|
|No.||Title||Written and storyboarded by||Story by||Original air date||U.S. viewers
|1||"The Old Grist Mill"||Steve Wolfhard, Natasha Allegri, and Zac Gorman||Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale||November 3, 2014||1.19|
|Wirt and Greg, along with a frog that Greg attempts to name, are lost in a forest and are informed by an old Woodsman that they are lost in the Unknown and warns them of "The Beast". Taking them to his oil mill, Wirt and Greg decide to stay for the night but problems arise when Greg leaves a trail of candy that a wolf, which they mistakenly believe to be the Beast, follows them.|
|2||"Hard Times at the Huskin' Bee"||Bert Youn, Aaron Renier, and Patrick McHale||Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale||November 3, 2014||1.19|
|Beatrice, a talking bluebird, joins the brothers and their frog after they help her out of a bush. The trio arrive in a strange town, Pottsfield, that appears to be deserted. They find that the town is holding their annual harvest festival in a barn, which is disrupted by their arrival. The residents, who seem to be living pumpkins, sentence the trio to a few hours of manual labour. After being freed, the brothers decide to follow Beatrice to a woman named Adelaide, who she claims can help them get home.|
|3||"Schooltown Follies"||Jim Campbell and Laura Park||Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale||November 4, 2014||1.24|
|Wirt and Beatrice come across a school full of animal students being taught by a human teacher, Miss Langtree. She mistakes them for students and tells them to join the class, which Wirt does. Meanwhile, Greg and some of his new-found animal friends are chased by a gorilla and they hide in the school. Greg cheers everyone up by adding molasses to the potatoes that they're having for lunch. The next day, a benefit concert is organised for the school, which earns enough money to keep it open. Wirt trips over the gorilla, revealing that it was her missing fiancé, Jimmy Brown, stuck in a costume.|
|4||"Songs of the Dark Lantern"||Pendleton Ward, Bert Youn, and Steve McLeod||Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale||November 4, 2014||1.24|
|Wirt and Greg visit a tavern to ask for directions to Adelaide's house. 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 steals a talking horse named Fred and finds Beatrice unconscious next to the Woodsman, and Wirt and Greg ride off with her. Meanwhile, the Beast reminds the Woodsman that the flame inside his lantern contains his daughter's soul, and that he must cut down Edelwood trees so the fire can keep her alive.|
|5||"Mad Love"||Natasha Allegri and Zac Gorman||Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale||November 5, 2014||1.55|
|Wirt and Greg claim to be the nephews of the wealthy and eccentric Quincy Endicott so they can steal two cents from him to pay for a ferry that will cross the river. In order to distract him, Greg, Greg's frog, and Fred convince Quincy to search for a ghost he supposedly saw one night. Beatrice reveals to Wirt she was once human, but she and her family were cursed by a bluebird. She explains that Adelaide is the only one who can change them back. Wirt reveals he has a crush on a girl back home named Sara. The groups reunite and discover that the ghost was in fact Quincy's neighbour and that their two mansions were actually connected. The two embrace each other and award Greg and Wirt a cent each due to his help.|
|6||"Lullaby in Frogland"||Bert Youn and Nick Edwards||Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale||November 5, 2014||1.55|
|Wirt, Greg, Beatrice, and Greg's frog sneak aboard the ferry, which is filled with clothed frogs. They disguise themselves as a member of the ferry's band, which soon starts performing, with Wirt reluctantly playing a bassoon. Greg's frog unexpectedly starts to sing. When they arrive to their destination, Beatrice, who had been acting strangely throughout the ferry ride, 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. Beatrice had originally planned to give them both to Adelaide as slaves in exchange for a pair of scissors that would lift the curse off herself and her family, but she had a change of heart as she grew attached to the brothers. Adelaide attempts to capture Wirt and Greg, but is killed by Beatrice. Beatrice attempts to explain the situation, but Wirt is hurt by her betrayal and runs away with Greg.|
|7||"The Ringing of the Bell"||Patrick McHale, Bert Youn, and Tom Herpich||Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale||November 6, 2014||1.19|
|Greg, Wirt, and Greg's frog encounter the Woodsman, who warns them that the Beast is ready to claim them. They run from the Woodsman and come across a lonely cottage in which they come across a young girl named Lorna who warns them to hide, as her care-giver Auntie Whispers is coming. Auntie Whispers uses a bell that can control Lorna with its ringing. Auntie Whispers reminds Lorna that she makes her constantly work so that "she won't become wicked". The brothers help Lorna to escape by helping her finish her housework early. 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. Lorna suddenly transforms into a horrific demon. Greg shakes his frog, who has eaten Auntie Whispers' bell, and Wirt commands the demon to leave Lorna's body and never return. Lorna decides to stay with Auntie Whispers. After leaving Lorna and Auntie Whispers, Wirt begins to lose hope of ever leaving the Unknown, which pleases the Beast who is watching from afar.|
|8||"Babes in the Wood"||Mark Bodnar, Jim Campbell, and Bert Youn||Amalia Levari, Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale||November 6, 2014||1.19|
|The brothers and Greg's frog sail down a lake, where they hear the Beast's singing, and Greg remains hopeful while Wirt has given up. They reach land and sleep under a tree for the night. Greg has a dream of an angelic cloud city, where he is welcomed by its residents. The festivities are cut short when the North Wind is released and starts destroying the city, but Greg manages to defeat it. The Queen of the Clouds appears to Greg, allowing him one wish as a reward. He wishes to find his way home, but the Queen informs him he cannot return home with Wirt as the Beast has already claimed Wirt, who is covered in Edelwood branches. Greg instead wishes to take Wirt's place, and leaves with the Beast. Wirt awakens and chases after them, but falls through ice and nearly drowns before being saved by a fishing net.|
|9||"Into the Unknown"||Cole Sanchez, Vi Nguyen, and Zac Gorman[nb 1]||Cole Sanchez, Bert Youn, Amalia Levari,
Tom Herpich, and Patrick McHale[nb 1]
|November 7, 2014||1.13|
Taking place before the events of the first episode, on Halloween, Wirt has just finished making an audio cassette tape for his crush, Sara. He fashions a costume out of an old Santa Claus hat and a marching band cloak. Greg gives the tape to Sara's friends, who tell Wirt that he should hurry, because another boy, Jason Funderberker, was planning on asking her out at a party that night. Trying to retrieve the tape, they end up at the party. Wirt 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, leading Wirt and Greg to sneak after her and her friends.At the graveyard, the group is telling ghost stories when Greg tries to cause a distraction for Wirt. A police car pulls up and jokingly tells them off for being in the graveyard, but they take him seriously and run off, with Wirt and Greg scaling a wall at the edge of the graveyard. At the top, Wirt notices Sara finding the tape in her jacket and he panics. They jump off the wall and onto a set of train tracks on the other side. Wirt blames Greg and his stepfather for ruining his life, but Greg pays no attention and picks up a frog in the bushes. 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. Wirt then wakes up after the events of the previous episode, and finds himself in a nest with Beatrice's family. He thanks them and heads off with Greg's frog into a snowstorm 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||1.13|
After leaving Wirt with her family, Beatrice navigates through the storm to find Greg, who she sees performing meaningless tasks for the Beast. She is whisked away by the strong wind and crashes into Wirt, who was wandering in the storm holding Greg's frog, and leads him to where she last saw Greg. As the sun sets, having used up what little Edelwood he had left, the Woodsman ventures into the woods and finds Greg transforming into a new Edelwood tree. The Woodsman attempts to free Greg before fighting the Beast away from the clearing as Wirt and Beatrice arrive. 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 as he tries to break the Edelwood branches off. 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, but he realizes that the flame within the lantern is actually the Beast's own source of life.After explaining this to everyone in the clearing, Wirt frees Greg and asks for Beatrice to come with them. But she declines as 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 had kept from their encounter, sheepishly admitting that he had kept them from her out of spite. They head off as the Woodsman, mortified to learn that Edelwood trees grew from the bodies of the lost and that he had never been keeping his daughter alive, resists the Beast's lies and extinguishes the lantern, ending the Beast's life once and for all. After Wirt and Beatrice say their goodbyes, Wirt wakes up under the lake and pulls Greg and his frog to the surface, passing out as the police and his friends show up. The brothers are taken by ambulance to the hospital. Wirt wakes up next to Greg, Sara, and her friends. Sara tells Wirt that she hadn't listened to the tape yet, as she doesn't own a cassette player. Wirt offers for her to listen to it at his house, which she accepts. Back in the Unknown, the Woodsman is sitting on his porch in melancholy when his daughter comes out of his home, having been brought back to life. The other Unknown residents are shown to be living much happier lives as a result of Wirt and Greg's influence, including Beatrice and her family restored to human form. Greg's frog plays the piano and sings, and Greg returns the stolen rock back to Mrs. Daniel's garden.
- This episode credits the storyboarders separate from the writers (listed here under Story By for convenience)
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. It also received an honorable mention at the 2013 Ottawa International Animation Festival.
At the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International, a preview of the show was screened along with various panels for other shows on the network. Episode 2 was previewed at the 2014 New York Comic Con, which McHale and the main cast attended. The show made its premiere on November 3, 2014 on Cartoon Network, and ran over five consecutive nights. The entirety of it was published on iTunes preceding its broadcast.
|Over the Garden Wall (Original Television Soundtrack)|
|Soundtrack album by various artists|
|Producer||The Blasting Company|
Various melodies and songs based on pre-1950s music are heard throughout the series. Elijah Wood, the voice actor for Wirt, has said that "if this show were a record, it would be played on a phonograph". Songs from the series include "Into the Unknown", its title song, composed by Patrick McHale and sung by Jack Jones; "A Courting Song", composed by the Petrojvic Blasting Company and performed by Frank Fairfield; and "Come Wayward Souls", sung by Samuel Ramey as the Beast.
|1.||"Over the Garden Wall"||1:47|
|2.||"Into the Unknown (Theme Song)"||1:24|
|4.||"Patient is the Night"||1:29|
|6.||"The Highwayman Song"||0:34|
|7.||"Come Wayward Souls"||0:45|
|8.||"A Courting Song"||1:25|
|10.||"Potatoes and Molasses"||1:13|
The majority of the series' songs have been officially uploaded to YouTube. On the DVD release they can be heard, along with visuals and without dialogue, in a special feature known as the Composer's Cut. An extended version of the soundtrack, featuring 32 tracks and totaling around 44 minutes in length, was released in the form of a 180 gram vinyl record by Mondo in August 2016. The extended soundtrack debuted at the San Diego Comic-Con, with a limited 1,000 copies, featuring a cover designed by Sam Wolfe Connelly. The extended vinyl is also available as a webstore exclusive from Mondo.
The animated miniseries was released on DVD in the United States on September 8, 2015 from Cartoon Network and Warner Home Video. The DVD release took place two months earlier on July 8 in Australia. The DVD features all ten episodes of the show, commentaries, the original pilot, alternate title cards, and deleted animatics. Other extras on the DVD include the Composer's Cut, an option wherein a viewer can watch the show with only the visuals and the background music; and the mini-documentary Behind Over the Garden Wall.
Over the Garden Wall was critically acclaimed. 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". 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".: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". Conversely, Amid Amidi of Cartoon Brew judged from the same preview that the animation was lacking. While not discounting its storytelling, music, and production design, he felt that production skimped on animation; he was still looking forward to the series.
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". 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. 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 visiting.
Brian Moylan of The Guardian 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". 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. 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. Jason Bree of the website Agents of Geek called the miniseries "the greatest thing Cartoon Network has ever produced". Kevin Johnson, writing for The A.V. Club, praised the series, giving it an A, saying that "with such a perfect blend of mood, atmosphere, story, and characterization, Over the Garden Wall's 10-episode run will leave you wanting more, but like every great fairy tale, it's a story that knows when it's over."
Awards and nominations
|2015||Annie Award||Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production for Children's Audience||Over the Garden Wall||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production||Robert Alvarez, Ken Bruce, and Larry Leichliter||Nominated|
|Reuben Award||TV Animation||Patrick McHale||Won|
|Primetime Creative Arts Emmy||Outstanding Animated Program||Over the Garden Wall||Won|
|Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation||Nick Cross||Won|
|Ottawa International Animation Festival||Best Animated Feature||Over the Garden Wall||Won|
|2016||Teen Choice Award||Choice TV: Animated||Over the Garden Wall||Nominated|
Comic book adaptation
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 writer/storyboard artist on the television series. A special variant cover, by McHale, was also released. The success of the standalone comic led to further issues being commissioned in May 2015 and began to be released in August 2015. According to Patrick McHale, the comic books would be similar to the one-shot comic, detailing the events that occurred in between certain episodes and will expand on the miniseries. The success of the series of one-shots led to an ongoing series of comics, serving as both a sequel and prequel to the series, rather than telling adventures that happened between episodes. The stories are told parallel, with half the comic detailing Greg returning to mysterious dreamlands in his sleep. The other half chronicles the Woodsman's daughter, Anna, and how she became lost in the Unknown.
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