Invader Zim a cult classic

By Tim Jones

Courtesy Facebook

Television programming today just doesn’t compete with the shows of the ’90s generation. Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network have transformed from networks with variety to those with live-action shows and teen angst to play to the current “hip” generation. Many shows have unfortunately died, shows that have a special place in the hearts of those who grew up in the 1990s.

But now there’s a chance to revive one of those shows: the truly epic “Invader Zim.”

“Invader Zim” is by no means a show for children, which is one of the reasons Nickelodeon was so quick to pull it from programming. With many dark themes and immature humor, the show wasn’t well-suited for fragile, little minds. It was also very dark and violent and didn’t play into political correctness or concerns about hurting kids’ feelings.

But those who understood the show and loved the sick humor devoured every bit of it.

Zim, an alien from another galaxy of an invading species, is sent on a joke mission to take over Earth with his robot companion, GIR.

Every episode involves him adapting to human life and pursuing his goal to take over the Earth. But there are complications. Mostly the fact that he’s a complete idiot bumbling through a foreign land, his rival Dib is always on his tail, and the bizarre citizens of Earth ruin all of his plans in the most unexpected ways possible.

There really aren’t any attempts to be subtle with the material. It is flat out disgusting at times, and that’s what makes it shine. The truly random and dark humor of “Invader Zim” was too unique to be copied, but a nice representation of the kinds of programming seen at the time, with shows like “Rocko’s Modern Life” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” pushing the boundaries of what was considered acceptable children’s television.

From Zim growing a massive pimple with hypnotic powers, to the class pet hamster, Pipi, evolving into a colossal beast known as “Ultra Pipi,” to the glorious introduction of Mini Moose, the show had enough originality to last it a decade.

Now it seems as if every show geared towards kids is all about love or pre-pubescent children singing of their misery and strife. Although some shows manage to actually convey some of this twisted humor, they are few and far between.

“Invader Zim” has gained a cult following. DVD sales have gone through the roof since their release. Many people still popping them in to reminisce. Even GIR has his own following online, and for good reason too.

Of course, when the show was cancelled in 2002, long before most of its viewers actually understood most of what its crazy metaphors meant, people went nuts.

Online petitions went up everywhere, and people rallied for the return of their favorite show, and those followings have become stronger over time, especially with the advent of the Internet.

Despite all of the pleading and crying, it seemed as if there was no hope whatsoever for the banished gem – that is, until now.

Nickelodeon has announced “Operation Doom” for release Feb. 22. The DVD will contain the highest-rated episodes of the series. It’s all part of a plan for revival. The rumor is that if the DVD sells enough copies, Nickelodeon will heavily reconsider renewing the series. For anyone who has seen the show and loved it, this may be the only chance.

For the people who have seen MTV turn from a network about music into a network about shows with idiots and crybaby baby mamas, or Disney Channel turn into a network with crying boys without any facial hair, the revival of a classic show, one that evokes powerful childhood memories, “Operation Doom” is too good to pass up.

For those who want to fight for another chance, this DVD begs to be bought. It’s only going to run at a price less than $20, which is a steal, considering that many of the sets are running around $40-$50 due to the DVDs’ rarity.

For “Invader Zim” to return to air would be a dream come true for many loyal followers. And who know, it could start a trend of the revival of good programming.

Tim Jones [email protected]