Cartoons are normally very simple affairs. Think of the Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons that just involved one big chase and defective capture gadgets from Acme. You didn’t have too many names, recurring characters or palace intrigue to complicate the action. Then there’s certain cartoons that won’t be named that are so detail oriented and filled with overflowing backstories that you need to visit websites to figure out what you really just saw. Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe pulls off a thrilling accomplishment of being both simple to enjoy and contain a sprawling mythology that doesn’t alienate a younger audience. Steven Universe: The Complete First Season establishes creator Rebecca Sugar’s series as jewel full of gems.
Steven Universe (Zach Callison) seems like a goofy kid growing up in Beach City who likes to sing and hang out at the donut shop. But there’s more once you look into his home life. His father is a balding rock guitarist who lives in a van. His mother is gone. Steven doesn’t live with his dad. He lives in a house in front of an old beachside temple with three women who are in Crystal Gems named Pearl (Deedee Magno), Garnet (Estelle), and Amethyst (Michaela Dietz). The trio along with Steven must defend the world from monsters and other invaders from the Gem community. The trio originally worked with Steven mother. She was Rose Quartz, one of the most powerful of the Crystal Gems. Now it is up to her son with his gem in his belly button to take her place and save the Earth or at least Beach City. That is rather simple, but then the mythology kicks in. There are more Gems around the universe. Even more can happen when the Crystal Gems fuse together to form different characters with different powers. The show grows before your eyes.
Creator Rebecca Sugar has made a show that has captured Josie’s attention. She gets wrapped up in the plots and can discuss elements of the show during a long drive. Besides being entertaining, my daughter knows more about gems than an elementary school geology course will teach. This is now her favorite show ever. If you don’t believe me, let’s go to her videotape:
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the joy in Steven’s face when he gets a donut. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0. The musical moments and the action mix well on the screen. The episodes are subtitled.
Behind the Music (10:17) lets Rebecca Sugar talk about the show and how Steven is based on someone close to her. Sugar worked on Adventure Time and was given a chance to pitch a series. She enjoys making the songs in the show with her ukulele.
Listening Party (18:15) has Sugar talk and perform the songs in front of an audience during a convention.
Music Video Performances has Sugar perform five songs from the show.
Animatics has five episodes presented with storyboards and simple animation with the final soundtrack.
Song Demos are early takes on two songs.
Warner Home Video presents Steven Universe: The Complete First Season. Created by: Rebecca Sugar. Starring: Zach Callison, Estelle, Michaela Dietz, Deedee Magno Hall, Tom Scharpling & Grace Rolek. Boxset Contents: 52 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: January 30, 2018.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.