Gagfilms (2009), Vivendi Entertainment (May 28, 2013), 4 Discs, 339 mins plus supplements, 16:9 ratio, Dolby Digital 2.0 (Stereo), Not Rated, Retail: $29.93
Where do I even start? Um… A group of fruits with human eyes and lips have all sorts of weird things happen to them throughout space and time.
The Sweatbox Review:
How many Internet series take off enough to be picked up by a major cable channel and have complete season sets produced on DVD? Not too many, that’s how many. Considering that, how weird is it that The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange is one such success? It’s too crazy to be true. And yet, here we are.
Annoying Orange began life as a series of YouTube shorts in 2009. This brainchild of Dane Boedigheimer utilizes live-action photography, animation, and… get this: human lips and eyes being superimposed on fruit. As if Clutch Cargo’s Synchro-Vox technology wasn’t kooky enough in the 1959, now a similar method has been adapted to produce this tribute to the secret lives of grocery store produce! Boedigheimer is either a lunatic, or a genius— probably both, given the success of the show, which has spawned all sorts of merchandise, including plushes, shirts, and books. I look at this, and can’t help but to think, “Really?” And yet, here we are. Or did I already say that?
The TV show version, airing on Cartoon Network, premiered in the spring of 2012. Boedigheimer voices the title character (and a few others), one of a group of fruits living in a supermarket (named “Daneboe’s” for obvious reasons). Orange is, of course, the annoying one, always laughing at everything he says, and pestering the other fruits. The other best-defined personalities belong to Apple, who is the loser of the group (mostly because Orange likes to pick on him best), and sexy (well, for a fruit) Passion, who harbors an inexplicable crush on Orange. There’s also a sour old Grandpa Lemon, a level headed Pear, Midget Apple, and Grapefruit, who is sometimes a bit of a nemesis to the others. Oh, and there’s also a tremendously perky marshmallow there, just to be quirky. And, I almost forgot Coconut, the more-dim-than-the-rest member. The fruits also have a human acquaintance named Nerville (Toby Turner), who works at the store and becomes involved in their trippy adventures. The format of the show allows stories to take place either in the store, or in a wide variety of fantastic settings. Hence, we get a pirate episode, a Star Trek spoof, a story inspired by The Avengers, a medieval story, and more. Whenever adversaries are needed, vegetables inevitably play them— broccoli in particular.
I was expecting to hate this show, but… it’s almost good. (How’s that for faint praise?) The humor can be on the rude side, particularly with how Orange treats his “friends” or how fruit does sometimes get smashed or blown up, and the stories are not particularly great, but the whole effort does have a certain verve that I cannot bring myself to fully criticize. The writing does have humor to it, and the stories are so outlandish that they are almost beyond serious critiquing. I mean, how can you not give begrudging respect to a show that has episodes titled Zombie Veggies or Doctor Strange Plum?
The animation and visual effects are done on off-the-shelf software, on an obviously limited budget, leaving the show looking amateurish; but there is some innovation and creativity on display. The crudeness of the result somewhat reflects the mood of the show, but also shows the enthusiasm of those involved. Fortunately, as the series progresses they do get better with matching mouth positions to that of the fruit, and within a few episodes things settle into a good groove, even if the actors don’t always know what to do with their mouths when they’re not talking.
There is a Monty Python-esque quality to the proceedings, maybe not in terms of wit, but at least in the anything-goes attitude. This is farce, with fruit. Toby Turner is in on the gag too, mugging like your favorite local improv actor. He knows he’s not doing great theater, but gives it his all. In a way, he gives us permission to enjoy the silliness of it all through his own embracing of the his role.
Given the premise, this is probably the best one could hope for out of a webisode-derived series about talking fruit having surreal adventures. The four-disc DVD set contains all thirty twelve-minute TV episodes from the first season. If The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange sounds to be up your alley, then give it a try. If not… well, who could blame you?
Is This Thing Loaded?
All extras appear on their own on the fourth disc in the set.
Annoying Orange: Exposed 13:04 is a behind-the-scenes look at the show, with a succession of clips of filming, along with off-the-cuff remarks from creators and staffers. We also see some of the famous guest-stars, including Jeffrey Tambor, Felicia Day, Weird Al Yankovic, and Alice Cooper.
Behind The Seeds (3:33) is a visit to the supermarket set, created as a promo for the show before its Cartoon Network premiere. A few of the creators get interviewed, including creator Dane Boedigheimer. He seems like a pretty good guy, and his enthusiasm for the show certainly makes one want to give it a chance.
Sizzle Peel (0:47) just shows a montage of clips. Not too useful, unless you want to convince your friends of why they should (or not) watch a full episode.
Episode 6 Fruit-Vengers Storyboard Animatic (9:45) shows that they do actually put some thought into creating an episode. Whodda thunk it? Aside from the storyboard, there is also green screen footage with Nerville.
The Very First Annoying Orange Webisode (1:35) naturally had to be included. It’s certainly less ambitious than the TV episodes, simply showing Orange bothering Apple, taking all the cleverness out of the situation and boiling it down to just being… well, annoying. And maybe a little bit funny if you’re into fruit humor.
Four discs are contained in a white, standard DVD case. Two swinging trays inside ensure that no discs overlap inside the package. An insert advertizes a Papercutz Annoying Orange graphic novel.
Ink And Paint:
The transfer is really pretty sharp and certainly saturated with color, though the technical limitations of the source do show through. The clunky special effects can only be salvaged so much, but that’s no fault of the video compression. The 16:9 picture is of surprisingly good quality, though with some video noise and banding likely inherent to the source.
The English stereo track is certainly not the highlight of the disc, but does its job fine. The sound is clear and distinct, even if separation and bass are minimal. No subtitles or alternate tracks are available.
File this under, “I can see the a-peel, but I can’t say I love it.” Nevertheless, I found myself wanting to see the show succeed, just due to its wacky premise and the clear love of the creators for their endeavor. Clearly the show has a bit of a budget, though the stories push it far past its breaking point, despite the ingenuity of the technical staff. Still, that’s all part of the fun. Fans of the show will appreciate the smattering of special features, and there can be no real complaints about the technical quality of the discs. Not sure if it’s worth a blind buy, but fans of the show will be pleased.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?