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Featured TV on DVD Review: Invader Zim: Operation Doom

February 20th, 2011

Invader Zim: Operation Doom - Buy from Amazon

I've been told by a lot of people that I would love Invader Zim, but I never got a chacne to watch it, until today. A screener for Operation Doom, a best of single-disc release, has arrived on my desk. So were my friends right, or am I going to have to hurt them for insulting my tastes.

The Show

The show tells the story of an alien named Zim, a member of the imperilistic Irken race, who is sent to Earth to gather intelligence for an invasion. However, he's stuck in elementary school dealing with his nemesis, Dib, a classmate who instantly recognizes Zim to be an alien, even if he can't convince anyone else. Most of the 30-minute episodes were comprised of two shorts, but there were a few that only had one story for the entire episode. This DVD contains 13 shorts, which Nickelodeon says are the highest rated, starting with...

  1. The Frycook What Came From All That Space
    Dib's latest attempt to reveal Zim to be an alien isn't going so well, when Zim is kidnapped, by another alien. But who is this mysterious alien? It's Sizz-Lorr, Zim's old jailor! And he's come to take Zim back to Foodcourtia.
  2. Career Day
    It's career day and everyone in class is assigned a mentor for the career they are most suited for. Dib gets to spend the day with a paranormal investigator, while Zim spends the day in a fast food restaurant. ... I sense a theme. With the help of his mentor, will Dib finally be able to expose Zim as an alien?
  3. Battle-Dib
    Dib finally has the proof needed to bust Zim, but in order to get to the Swollen Eyeballs secret meeting, he must have a signed permission slip. But in order to get to his dad, Professor Membrane, he must pass the audience selection tests for the Professor Membrane TV show. And it's a grueling test.
  4. The Nightmare Begins
    The first episode. Apparently because presenting the best of in chronological order would have made too much sense. The Irken race is about to start Operation Impending Doom II, but Zim is not invited, not after his performance in Operation Impending Doom I. (He got a little excited and started creating the aforementioned doom before leaving his home planet. It's implied that none of his fellow invaders survived.) After begging the leaders, The Tallest, to include him in this invasion, they decide to send him to an insignificant planet at the outreach of Irken space where he will be exiled forever. That planet is Earth.
  5. Gaz, Taster of Pork
    Dib has the largest collection of electronic spell drives, which are like magic scrolls that can only be used a certain number of times. When he discovers one of the drives still has two charges left, he uses one on his sister, Gaz, to figure out what it does. It makes everything she eats taste like pigs. Well, everything but hot dogs. Huh? Even for this show, that's pretty weird.
  6. Vindicated!
    There's a new school counselor, Mr. Dwicky, and Dib is sent to him to discuss his obsession with Zim. However, in a twist, Mr. Dwicky believes Dib when he says Zim is an alien. At first this is the great day in Dib's life, but sadly for Dib, Mr. Dwicky was only trying a trick to get Dib to open up about his real problem.
  7. The Voting of the Doomed
    The school president complains about the state of the bathrooms, so she is immediately removed from office and a new election takes place. The candidates are Zim, of course, and Willy, the idiot. Dib can't stand the thought of Zim winning, so he becomes Willy's campaign manager.
  8. Hobo 13
    Zim is sent to planet Hobo 13 for training as an invader. Actually, he is sent there to die a painful death, but he's told he's going there to train. Once there he volunteers to be leader, but his idea of leadership is sacrificing his teammates so he succeeds.
  9. Walk For Your Lives
    It's Probing Day and the Tallest are getting all the advanced scouts, like Zim, to do puppet shows. Zim instead prepares a time experiment, but something goes wrong and Zim creates a slow motion explosion. Now Zim has to dispose of it before it grows so big it destroys the city, possibly even the Earth.
  10. Mysterious Mysteries
    Dib gets invited to go on Mysterious Mysteries of Strange Mysteries to show a video of Zim he recorded. It's his dream come true, until he learns Zim, Gaz, and GIR get to tell their side of the events. Rashomon ensues.
  11. Future Dib
    Dib and Gaz's father, Professor Membrane, unveils his latest creation, the Perpetual Energy Generator. If the generator works, it means limitless clean energy. If it doesn't work, it will destroy the world. Zim plans to make sure that latter happens, but Dib is visited by himself from the future, who warns of Zim's plan. But will Dib be able to stop Zim this time around, or is there something more afoot.
  12. Plague of Babies
    Zim is spotted outside his disguise and he must figure out what this witness knows, so he interrogate this witness. This is harder than it looks, because the witness is just a baby. ... Or is it?
  13. Bloaty’s Pizza Hog
    It's family night and Dib, Gaz, and Professor Membrane are going out to dinner, that is if Dib can make it home in time. But since Dib has been kidnapped by Zim, this could be a problem. So it's Gaz to the rescue.
My reaction to these episodes was mostly, "What the hell was that?" This was mostly a good thing. It had a definite Ren & Stimpy vibe to it, as it straddles the line between a show aimed at kids and one that adult aficionados of animation will enjoy. It is definitely more Ren & Stimpy than SpongeBob SquarePants, even though both shows have strong adult fanbases, and Invader Zim is not for younger kids. On the other hand, it's not as mature as Futurama and at times has a ADHLAP pacing to it, as well as being bizarre for the sake of being bizarre. That said, for the most part, it is also incredibly creative and very funny.

I do question the inclusion of some of these episodes, like The Voting of the Doomed, which I thought was of significantly lower quality than the average episode on this disc, and I would imagine there were better choices out there. However, this is a problem with all such Best Of DVDs.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD, which is a shame, as some of the previous releases did have extras. On the other hand, there are the equivalent of 8 episodes on this DVD, which is a lot for this type of release.

The Verdict

There are rumblings and rumors that thanks in part to the better than expected ratings of Invader Zim reruns of the show might make a return to TV. If you put stock into those rumors, then Operation Doom might be worth picking up, just to encourage its return to TV. Otherwise, if you have the previous DVD releases, there's no reason to pick up this DVD as well. Those who missed out on the show the first time around should enjoy the DVD enough that it's worth picking up, but when you do watch it for the first time, start with The Nightmare Begins.

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