"Invader Zim: Operation Doom": Support Zim! Zim Commands It, Filthy Human PigSmelly!
Invader Zim is a show about a short green alien, Zim, who is an Irken invader on a mission from the Almighty Tallest (the leaders of his race who rule because they’re taller than everyone else) to take over the world by going undercover as a filthy human earth pig-smelly (child) and attend skool (yes, it’s really spelled that way, and no, it’s not a very good plan. None of his plans ever are.) With the help of his trusty, incompetent, (though no more incompetent than Zim himself,) robotic servant, Gir, Zim tries to enslave the earth and defeat his enemy, Dib, a kid in his class who also happens to be the only person not fooled by Zim’s pathetic disguise. Fortunately for Zim, no one ever believes Dib. Fortunately for Dib, Zim is too stupid to actually have a chance to succeed in his mission.
What in the world was Nickelodeon thinking, giving Jhonen Vasquez , a young man with no television experience and was best known for making and indie comic titled Johnny the Homicidal Maniac his own children’s show? Whatever it was, you would think that they’d at least watch him closely to make sure he’s working on what he was hired to create. Well by the time you watch “Dark Harvest”, an episode that features Zim harvesting organs from students, it’s quite apparent they weren’t. And that’s wonderful. Because Nick failed to watch Jhonen Vasquez closely, he turned out one of the most wonderfully dark and funny cartoons ever made. This also eventually became Invader Zim‘s downfall, as Nick and the advertisers expected the show to be a hit with young teens while it was mostly older teens who tuned in, not to mention parents complained about the show’s disturbing imagery. So Nickelodeon canceled Invader Zim while it was still in production of its second season, angering Jhonen Vasquez by ignoring a contract they had, essentially burning that bridge. Thus, much like numerous Fox shows, a fan favorite was canceled, ending a brilliant show before it’s time.
I cannot help but grin from ear to ear as I watch this show. From the fantastic voice work, the gorgeous, original (if occasionally wonderfully grotesque) character designs never before seen in animation, it’s brilliant writing and odd yet hilarious humor, this show is nigh perfect, and in my opinion is the greatest show to ever come out of Nickelodeon (yes, better than Avatar). This show is one of a kind, and that’s probably due to the fact that a good chunk of the people working on the show had never worked in animation before, and didn’t know what could and couldn’t be done. The writing is insanely clever, and yet it never feels formulaic or like Pinky and the Brain even though it would be very easy to do. The voice work is probably the best I’ve ever heard. (‘Specially Gir. Everyone loves Gir.) This is just a fun, gross, crazy, fun show. It’s almost impossible not to like it.
Invader Zim: Operation Doom is a 3 hour compilation disc, filled with select episodes and no special features. It claims to have 14 episodes, though that really isn’t the case, considering most of the episodes are only ten minute segments of episodes. One really strange thing about this release it that the episodes are out of order. Sure, that may not seem like much of a big deal for a show like this, and for the most part is isn’t. It’s just odd that “The Nightmare Begins”, obviously the first episode that sets up the whole show, is billed as episode four. Another thing that bothers me, though it’s mostly a personal thing is that my three favorite episodes, “Dark Harvest”, “Bestest Friend” and “Abducted” are not included. But hey, those are just my personal favorites. Invader Zim has no bad episodes. The picture quality is very nice though, probably the best Zim has ever seen on DVD. All in all, it’s a rather sloppy release. It has a nice cover though, for what that’s worth.
Although it’s a decade old already, Nickelodeon finally gives Zim his first DVD with Invader Zim: Operation Doom. Well, that’s not entirely true. Zim did have a 3 volume DVD release filled with special features (and an extremely limited 4-disc set), but that was released by AnimeWorks, not Nickelodeon. Nick didn’t think it was worth their time, that is, until it sold really, really well. (Now the 3 volume box set is almost impossible to find for under $70.) Nick did eventually release the complete series on their burn-on-demand Amazon service, sans special features, but this release marks the first time Nickelodeon is releasing Invader Zim in a mass-produced DVD to the public. I think this may be Nick testing the waters. Zim merchandise still sells pretty well at HotTopic and possibly strong DVD sales just may lead to Invader Zim ‘s resurrection. Of course, it may not, I don’t know. But keep in mind that MTV, Nick’s sister network, did just resurrect Beavis and Butt-Head, so Zim isn’t out of the realm of possibility (there are numerous episodes left unfinished, many already recorded). Although this isn’t a great release, as with TMNT: Turtles Forever, I would recommend buying this if you have the money or recommending it to your friends just to support Zim and show Nickelodeon it’s in their best interest to bring Zim back. (Though it may be difficult to get Jhonen back.) Anyway, it’s a good collection of episodes from a great show. If you don’t already own Zim on DVD, buy it. You won’t be disappointed.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this review stated that the first 3-disc Invader Zim set was released by Shout! Factory, not AnimeWorks, and omitted mention of the 4-disc limited edition.