The second Adventure Time miniseries, Islands, stretches the limits of the show’s embrace of serialisation. Where the excellent preceding miniseries, Stakes!, succeeded by focusing on the supporting cast (specifically, Marceline), Islands suffers through its inability to offer anything outside the ordinary as it explores Finn’s backstory.
It’s probably necessary, at this point – the miniseries is set at the end of Season 8, which I’m yet to see – to answer lingering questions about Finn’s parents and past. After the absurdity of the show’s Dada-meets-Dungeons-and-Dragons early seasons, Adventure Time’s generally profited by extrapolating on its wacky ideas, turning half-baked weirdness into a complete, convincing universe. But the balance of crazy adventures and post-apocalyptic backstory isn’t quite right here; the adventures feel generic and the backstory, too: like something out of a knock-off dystopian YA novel.
There are ample pleasures here, of course – this is still Adventure Time – but it feels tired in a way that the series has never felt before. Islands is intermittently fun and funny, but too often it struck me as a pale imitation of Adventure Time at its best, as though another production company had been tasks with its creation. Not terrible, but a long way from memorable.