We've officially passed the first day of autumn, and it’s time to start getting into the season. One of my favorite things to do every year in fall is watch Over the Garden Wall, a mini-series that was aired on Cartoon Network in 2014. This is a show I constantly fall back into over and over again and I consider it one of the best shows of all time. It’s filled with beautiful fall scenery, a gorgeous art style, and just the right amount of morbidity to make you question if it really is for kids. The latter part of this article will contain very mild spoilers, so read at your own risk.
The entire series contains only 10 episodes, making the total run time only around two hours. When I first watched the show, I finished it in one night. I honestly think that’s just how you have to do it. It keeps you enthralled in the story the whole time, and the soundtrack deserves its own separate section later on. There are also small subtle hints that you pick up on when re-watching the series. There’s a reason why I come back to this show over and over again.
The story follows two brothers, Wirt (voiced by Elijah Wood) and Greg (voiced by Collin Dean), along with their unnamed frog, who find themselves stuck in The Unknown, a place full of mystery and fantasy outside of their own knowledge. They meet a bluebird named Beatrice who promises to take them to Adelaide of the Woods to allow them to get home. The group adventures through The Unknown, avoiding The Beast, a fabled horrible creature trying to lead the kids astray.
Each episode follows the group on a different part of their journey. My favorite episode is the second episode of the series, titled “Hard Times at the Huskin’ Bee”, where the boys and Beatrice stumble upon the town of Pottsfield, a harvest town filled with what we assume are people dressed in costumes with pumpkin heads. This episode holds my favorite song from the show, “Pottsfield CM”. It’s probably the episode I enjoy most art-wise as well and the one that actually reminds me of fall the most. We find out later in the episode that the people in costumes were actually skeletons and just celebrating the harvest season.
Other episodes I love include “Songs of the Dark Lantern” and “The Ringing of the Bell.” In “Songs of the Dark Lantern”, the boys stumble upon a tavern where they meet villagers from the Unknown. They learn more about the Beast here, and this is where the show starts to take a darker turn. This episode was actually worked on by Pendleton Ward, known for his creations Adventure Time and The Midnight Gospel. “The Ringing of The Bell” follows the boys to the house of Lorna, a girl who is seemingly trapped under a spell by Auntie Whispers (voiced by Tim Curry). We later find out exactly why she is being kept under the command of a bell.
The story takes a darker turn: the boys find out the true identity of the Beast after a series of unfortunate events. After fighting with each other and losing Beatrice once she betrays their trust, the boys end up lost and alone. The second to last episode sums up how the boys stumbled into the Unknown and we start to see how everything plays out in the end.
I remember the first time I watched this show, I was amazed. I felt a variety of emotions from pure joy to heartbreak. After it was done, I remember sitting in my bed and just crying for a solid hour. I was immediately obsessed with the show and had to watch it again. There are a lot of small details I did not pick up on when I watched through it the first time. It made the experience all the more enjoyable to watch it a second time around.
As mentioned earlier, this show has one of the best soundtracks from any cartoon I’ve watched. The entire soundtrack can be attributed to The Blasting Company. It has a very jazzy and bluesy sound to it. It’s a great contrast to the modern style of the cartoon. It beautifully highlights the seemingly odd reverse in time. I love all of the songs and I consistently come back to listen to it year-round. Some of the songs are high-paced and bluesy, while some have more of a lullaby tone. It’s oddly calming and just an overall wonderful album.
As you can see, this is one of my favorite shows ever. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a new short show to watch this fall season. I guarantee it’ll make you feel beautifully happy, sad, shocked, and amazed. It’s a roller-coaster of emotions that deserves to be felt. You can stream Over the Garden Wall on Hulu now.