Every so often a TV show comes around that changes everything. It allows you to see the world with fresh eyes. Candy seems sweeter, colors seem brighter, couches seem more comfortable.
Invader Zim is one of those shows.
It’s nothing like Breaking Bad or Six Feet Under or West Wing. It’s not even Friday Night Lights. But for a kid’s cartoon, it’s pretty groundbreaking.
Back story: Jhonen Vasquez is the creator of Invader Zim. He is the writer/creator of the amazing and terrifying comic, Johnny The Homicidal Maniac about serial killer Johnny C., as well as the collection Squee’s Wonderful Big Giant Book Of Unspeakable Horrors. Clearly because these are comics — Nickelodeon asked Jhonen to create a cartoon for kids! And Zim is what he came up with.
Moral of the story? You don’t ask someone who creates a comic about a serial killer to write a kid’s show.
Basics: Invader Zim is a failed invader from the Irken Empire who had been banished to planet Foodcourtia after attacking his own planet during Operation Impending Doom. When he heard about Operation Impending Doom II, he quit being banished and volunteered. The Almighty Tallest (the leaders of the Irken Empire because they are tall) want to get rid of Zim as best they can so they send him to conquer Earth with his trust robot sidekick, Gir.
Gir’s brain is full of crap from a garbage bin and is pretty much insane.
Gir is the best.
The bulk of the show is Zim’s mind boggling incompetence, Gir’s full-blown insanity, and the efforts of Dib – the one very large-headed human who realizes that Zim is not in fact a regular ordinary “human worm child”, but an alien invader hellbent on destroying the planet – to expose Zim once and for all.
Dark Harvest – wherein Zim steal internal organs from all the kids in Skool to seem “more human”. This episode also gives us the illness, head pigeons.
Invasion of the Idiot Dog Brain – wherein Gir ends up as the brain of the house’s computer system, craves burritos.
Walk of Doom – wherein Gir loses the new homing device Zim just installed. They get lost downtown. Hilarity ensues.
Door to Door – wherein Zim sells Poop candy to win the mysterious grand prize for the school’s candy drive. Highlight is Poop Dog
Abducted – wherein the universe’s stupidest aliens abduct Zim, thinking he’s a human.
Mysterious Mysteries – wherein Dib tries to expose Zim on the show, Mysterious Mysteries of Strange Mystery; the multiple enactments of Dib confronting Zim in the forest are worth the price of admission alone
Mortos Der Soulstealer – wherein Dib summons Mortos Der Soulstealer to take Zim down to the spooky realm…but Mortos is really just a mooch who wants Dib to buy him leather pants and a soda
Zim Eats Waffles – wherein Zim eats waffles. These got peanuts and soap in ’em!
Where/When: The first episode aired in March 2001. Because of low ratings, the majority of the season 2 episodes didn’t air before the show was canceled. However, with the DVD release, the show developed a cult following and can be seen in reruns on Nick Toons.
Individual seasons are available for purchase on Amazon, but at highly elevated prices.
Bottom Line: Sick, dark, and twisted cartoon for those with a sick, dark, and twisted sense of humor