The Hunger Games return with such a sequel twist that you can't believe writer Suzanne Collins didn't think of film when writing. Catching Fire builds up with all types of subversive messaging which is interesting but also brings into relief the limitations of the genre and film.
Invader Zim is a children's animated TV show, created by underground comic scribe Jhonen Vasquez, that aired on Nickelodeon. It lasted about 2 seasons, although it was cut off mid-season, leaving a few unaired episodes that weren't released until it came out on DVD in 2004. In total, there are 28 episodes, comprising 46 individual stories.
Gir just wants pigs.
The main plot of Invader Zim revolves around an invader named Zim, a small alien of the Irken race. After Operation Impending Doom, a large-scale invasion by the Irken armada, failed dur to Zim's destroying his own planet, he was exiled to Foodcourtia. However, when Operation Impending Doom II starts, he quits and shows up to get assigned. His leaders, the Almighty Tallest, send him to a mystery planet that's shown by a sticky note on their holographic galaxy map, and when he arrives, well, it's Earth.
After creating a brilliant disguise for him and his robot, GIR, he enrolls in school and observes, while at the same time putting into play his always failing attempts at destroying mankind. The only people who seem to know he's an alien are Dib, the large-headed son of famed Professor Membrane, and Gaz, his sister who just doesn't care.
Most episodes follow Zim as he tries to destroy mankind or undo some sort of problem, generally caused by Dib, though sometimes other things cause the problem (babies). However, there are a few that branch out as something else, and these tend to follow around Dib as he tries to put something in action or deals with some other strangeness in the world, and some of these episodes don't even have Zim in it at all. One or two even manage to focus on Gaz, though only one or two of them were actually aired in the original run.
Zim- the incompetent alien main character, a small green guy who really wants to take over Earth because he knows how great he is.
GIR- A stupid (or advanced, as the Tallest point out) robot sidekick, his non-sequitors and severe cuteness has won over many characters.
Dib- No one else in the show is as smart as Dib, the son of famed Professor Membrane and Zim's main enemy.
Gaz- Dib's sister, a smaller character who pops in and just happens to actually be better than everyone. She also knows that Zim is an alien, but she doesn't care. Just let her play her games.
Jhonen Vasquez's Style
A lot of Johnen's more famous work is not the sort of thing that could air on network television. Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Squee and Happy Noodle Boy are good examples of this- violent to the extreme, full of gratuitous non-sequitors and nonsensical plots, and sweary in a way that would make a sailor blush.
That said, all of that was cut out of Zim since it's on Nickelodeon, though a few remnants can be seen. For example, there's the episode Dark Harvest where Zim steals organs from everyone in the school and replaces them with stuff, including scenes of that actual organ exchanges and a part where Zim barfs up intestines. A later episode shows Dib turned completely inside out.
The rest of the show has the same overtones as a lot of the rest. Everything is dirty and spelled wrong if it could be (e.g. skool), and the color palette is dark and rather dreary. The people all seem to have some kind of birth defect and are generally extremely stupid, and all of this matches with the kind of commentary on society Johnen tends to shove in to his work. There's also large amounts of 'jolly doom', such as a sign where an extremely happy character is shown with the word "OBEY!!" under it, which is another trademark of Johnen.
Listening to the commentary reveals a few more things that Johnen would have liked to do if he'd had the chance for it, such as blood splatters on the wall for some parts (but used for comedy), or the bloody GIR. Bloody Gir is a bit of a legend, an image Johnen mocked up of his character Gir covered in blood. He approached Nickelodeon to use it but, surprise, they balked at the idea. Instead, he decided to hide the image in certain episodes. There's only 2 or 3, but they're single-frame inserts, partially translucent so that it's hard to notice them, and though in one episode it appears in the opening credits, another will have it elsewhere entirely.
Airing on Nickelodeon
There was controversy around the show, though I don't think anyone expected it to be fingered in a murder case. Apparently, the murderer in the case was fascinated by human innards, and they cited comments he made about the episode of Dark Harvest. The witnesses for the defence said the comments were in jest, though, so the controversy was kind of brushed over.
Otherwise, certain Christian magazines rallied against it because, obviously, it's a dark cartoon that they felt was a bad influence on children. At the same time, they were rallying against Fairly Oddparents for being anti-Christian in its use of magic, so take that as you will.
References and cameos
Johnen himself pops up in a few episodes as an orange-haired dude in glasses and a trenchcoat ("TOO UGLY!" in The Nightmare Begins), as well as producer Steve Ressel, who's a fat man in glasses and a vest ("TOO STINKY!" in The Nightmare Begins). However, Vasquez eventually got rid of the cameos because he felt that people would only watch for those and not for the story.
A few of Johnen's other things pop up now and then. His "Z?" logo shows up as people's shirts and in the backgrounds now and then, as does a picture of the malformed vampire from one of his comics (in the background of Plague of Babies). Fillerbunny, a creature created for the simple purpose of filling in a blank space in a comic, also shows up in an episode, preserved in a tank that gets destroyed. Since Fillerbunny's main wish is to die and end the torment of having to forever fill blank space, fans can rest easy knowing that he gets beheaded here and that may be the end of him.
There is a little bit from show to show, but most of the time, they're standalone, with Zim losing his brain in one episode and then being OK the next, or the city exploding but then coming back. Most of the time it's standalone, but there are a few holdovers, especially after Tak's ship was stolen by Dib. It appears in a few other episodes, including one where it thinks that it's Dib and tries to take over his life, but no one ever seems to have any memory of anything else that happens.
There's also a smaller thing, a background element of the sun. In Planet Jackers, Earth is stolen and moved to another place to orbit another sun, which was distinctly red and had a pattern that looked a bit like a face. In the very next episode, Zim is launching chickens at the sun, and it's the same sun. This holds over throughout the rest of the show, seen in the background and with no other attention to it.
The rest of the continuity revolves around introduced character traits, such as making fun of Dib's large head, or Gaz's love of games.
Official word is that not enough people liked the show. The ratings were faltering, even though good word of mouth seemed to be spreading, so Nickelodeon gave it the axe partway through the second season. It was one of those occasions where animators would come in and not know if they'd have a job the next day. Nickelodeon also cited over-budget production, as there was a lot of CG in the show (check out Battle of the Planets and The Planet Jackers), especially given the amount people who were watching it.
Johnen himself was feeling fatigue from the animation, too, and says it was one of the most draining periods of his life. The crunch time took away from other things that he wanted to do, there was too much censorship (he couldn't stop himself from putting in swears and violence, which were then taken out). It seemed to be in everyone's best interest to discontinue the show, so they did.
Johnen has alternately expressed interest and disinterest for starting again. [adult swim] has been pretty vocal about interest in a Johnen Vasquez show, though whether it's Zim or not is unkown. This is a deal that Johnen has expressed greater interest in, as he could be much more himself without as much censoring.
It was revealed on one of the later DVD releases some of the ideas that they were going to explore, as follows:
Invader Skoodge, successful on Blorch, was going to move in with Zim.
Dib would learn he's a clone of Membrane, not actually his son
Tak and the Resisty would have returned.
Dib and Zim would have left earth to go to Irk, Dib chasing him the whole time.
A final movie called Invader Dib with a full scale war against the Irken.
Home Video Release
The Gir wasn't included for very long.
Starting in May 2004, Media Blasters put out three DVD boxes, comprising of 6 discs total, comprising every Zim episode, the pilot, running commentary, animatics, and the 4 unaired yet completed episodes. Later, a collector's edition was put out that was shaped like Zim's house, with all of the original releases and features on it. They also added in voiceovers of the episodes that hadn't been actually animated, as well as a CD comprising of some of the music from the show.
The DVDs were rereleased in 2006, as well as a bundle that didn't have the house, and in 2010 were re-rereleased as a 2 box set. In addition, the series is available on Netflix, Xbox Live Marketplace, Playstation Store, and iTunes