Alibi V.28 No.31 • Aug 1-7, 2019 

Idiot Box

On Track

“Infinity Train” on Cartoon Network

Infinity Train

Fans of cult fave Cartoon Network fare like “Adventure Time” and “Over the Garden Wall” may have an inventive new show to obsess over. Writer-artist Owen Dennis, who penned 33 episodes of Cartoon Network fave “Regular Show,” is the creator behind the 10-episode miniseries “Infinity Train.” The series launches this coming Monday with two episodes airing each night from Aug. 5 through Aug. 9. Discerning animation fans would do well to set their DVRs.

Like a lot of Cartoon Network shows, “Infinity Train” originally aired as an online pilot. Since it was posted on Cartoon Network’s YouTube channel in November of 2016, the 8-minute “Infinity Train” pilot has garnered nearly 5 million views, making it the most-watched pilot on the channel. A petition to make “Infinity Train” a series garnered more than 57,000 signatures prior to the network’s greenlight announcement. After nearly two years of retooling, story development and character work, the show’s 10-episode run is ready to hit the rails.

The plot centers on brainy 13-year-old Wisconsin girl Tulip (Ashley Johnson, who played Chrissy Seaver on “Growing Pains,” voiced Gretchen Grundler on “Disney’s Recess” and gave voice to Ellie in the video game The Last of Us). Tulip is an aspiring computer coder who dreams of going off to video game design camp for winter break. Unfortunately, Tulip’s recently divorced parents are busy squabbling and unable to drive her the 300 miles to camp. (Yeah, the series delves into some surprisingly mature themes.) Angry at her parents’ lack of attention, Tulip runs away from home. Conveniently (or not), she quickly stumbles across a mysterious train and hops on board.

Inside, she finds a fantastical conveyance of infinite length. Each car of the titanic train consists of a universe onto itself, filled with adventure, danger and a series of increasingly difficult puzzles. Determined to reach the train’s engine (and possibly find a way home), Tulip teams up (Wizard of Oz-style) with some traveling companions: a bowling-ball shaped robot named One-One with contrasting, manic-depressive personalities (Jeremy Crutchley and Owen Dennis) and Aticus (Ernie Hudson from Ghostbusters), an intelligent talking corgi.

Part of Tulip (the smart, video game-loving part) is excited by her adventure. But part of her is scared and lonely. What is this train? How does it work? Where is it going? Getting off it proves extremely dangerous. And staying on might not be much safer.

“Infinity Train” definitely has a parallel look and feel to Patrick McHale’s brilliant “Over the Garden Wall.” It employs similar cartoonish characters on top of somewhat realistic backgrounds. It also deals with serious issues of life and death. (Although the release of “Over the Garden Wall” reportedly caused Dennis to alter his storyline a bit.) The major difference is that Dennis doesn’t share McHale’s antiquated sense of cartoon nostalgia—bending more toward the video games and anime world of Pendleton Ward’s “Adventure Time.” An ’80s-style synth-heavy soundtrack also keeps the show rooted in more modern times.

A mash-up of everything from “Over the Garden Wall” to “Adventure Time” to The Wizard of Oz to Snowpiercer, “Infinity Train” is an intriguingly assembled mystery blending fantasy and reality, cartoonish humor and dark horror. Climb on board now before this train gets crowded.

“Infinity Train” premieres Monday, Aug. 5 at 5:30pm on Cartoon Network.