Led through the mist by the milk light of moon
All that was lost is revealed
Our long bygone burdens mere echoes of the spring
But where have we come and where shall we end?
If dreams can't come true, then why not pretend?
Over the Garden Wall is a ten part animated miniseries that premiered on Cartoon Network November of 2014. Each episode is eleven minutes long and follows the story of the brothers Wirt and Greg and the strange, usually malevolent creatures they encounter as they try to leave The Unknown.
Greg and Wirt are two young brothers who find themselves inexplicably in The Unknown, the middle of a dark wood, with no memory of how they got there, just the certainty that they must find their way out to get back home. Wirt is the elder, Greg is the younger, and for reasons not explained until the penultimate episode, Wirt is wearing a blue buttoned cloak and pointed red hat, and Greg has an upside down tea-kettle on his head.
For reasons not explained until later in the series, Wirt does not seem to get along very well with his younger brother for most of the series. Personality-wise, Wirt is the slightly neurotic (who wouldn't be in this weird world?), level-headed one who tries to make sense of The Unknown. He also is quick to pin the blame on any mistakes or wrong doings the two get up to on Greg (which is, again, explained later). Gregory, for his part, is just the general cute, innocent, optimistic child who fights the dark power of The Unknown by being cheerful. He looks up to his brother, and doesn't realize that Wirt resents him.
Also there is Greg’s frog, whose name Greg cannot decide on and has been called everything from Wirt Jr. to George Washington.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot of the story since the story is so short and the main plot is fairly simple, nor do I want to spoil any of the episodic plots, but I will say that this show is surreal. The boys encounter (among other things), talking animals of various types, a town of creepy pumpkin people, a woodcutter who carries a dark secret, a kleptomaniac horse, a girl who is not what she appears to be, and a school marm for animals who sings the alphabet song about her ex boyfriend, all while a malevolent force known only as The Beast watches the two, waiting for a chance to strike. Just keep in mind that every single weird-ass thing from the first minute of the first episode will come up, and it will make sense upon a second viewing. This show is crazy with the foreshadowing. Everything, every single thing about the main characters, is explained by the last episode— even why Wirt occasionally recites poetry to himself for no reason.
For the majority of the series, the setting seems to be late antebellum, with the buildings reflecting the time period and all the characters wearing period clothing. Even the music— of which there is a lot— reflects the sort of old timey southern-ish vibe.
This series is dark, and I don’t just mean the horrible, surreal, freakshow stuff the characters encounter. The art direction is beautiful, but it’s grim as heck. Even scenes that take place in the day have an autumnal, earth-tone, washed out feeling to them. The characters and miniature adventures the brothers have are bizarre, but instead of detracting from the atmosphere, it adds to it (usually).
There are songs. People sing in this show. For the most part, the songs are creepy as heck and in-story. It’s not a Disney thing where people sing and it’s sort of separate from the plot; these characters recognize that they are breaking into song and do so intentionally, usually causing Wirk to wonder why everyone in The Unknown is so batshit crazy.
This is like Alice in Wonderland meets Neil Gaiman meets Gravity Falls meets- I don’t know, a truckload of PCP, all in the best possible way. And is it any wonder? The creator of this was Patrick McHale, the guy responsible for Adventure Time. It’s worth a watch just for the art alone. As of right now, you can watch a few episodes on the cartoon network website (and more if you happen to have an account with a linked in service provider), but if you don’t have an account, I will just point out that this is the internet, and you are all very clever individuals. Individuals who can extrapolate meaning from incomplete data.
Also, I guess I should mention that the voice acting for this has a pretty phenomenal star-studded cast, including Christopher Lloyd, Elijah Wood, and Tim Curry. Weird, but neat.
Come wayward souls!
Who wander through the darkness!
There is a light for the lost and the meek.
Sorrow and fear are easily forgotten!
When you submit to the soil of the earth!