The show marked the first miniseries on the network, which commenced its production in March 2014. McHale first envisioned the show in 2004, and pitched it to the network in 2006. After working on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and Adventure Time, the network expressed interest in McHale pitching a pilot. That pilot became the catalyst for Over the Garden Wall. Production of the show was largely handled in Burbank, California, but many of the show's storyboard artists worked from other U.S. cities, while the program's animation was outsourced to South Korea. The series' environment evokes 19th- and 20th-century Americana, while its digital backgrounds are designed to resemble grisaille paintings.
Upon its debut, the series received critical acclaim from television critics, with praise focusing on its mood and characters. In 2015, the series won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. Outside of the series, a one-shot comic book adaptation penned by McHale has been produced, with four further issues commissioned. This was eventually expanded into an ongoing series.
The series follows two half-brothers, Wirt and Greg, who become lost in a strange forest called the Unknown. In order to find their way home, the two must travel across the seemingly supernatural forest with the occasional help of the wandering, mysterious and elderly Woodsman and Beatrice, an irritable bluebird who travels with the boys in order to find a woman called Adelaide, who can supposedly undo the curse on Beatrice and her family and show the half-brothers the way home.
Wirt, the older brother, is a worry-prone teenager and would rather keep to himself than have to make a decision. His three passions are the clarinet, poetry, and architecture but he keeps this private out of fear of being mocked. On the other hand, Greg, the younger brother, is all about play and being carefree, much to Wirt's chagrin and the danger to himself and others. Greg carries a frog, whose name is undetermined and who can communicate only through singing. Stalking the main cast is the Beast, an ancient creature who leads lost souls astray until they lose their hope and willpower and turn into "Edelwood trees".
In the final two episodes, it is revealed that Wirt and Greg are actually two boys from the modern era. Wirt and Greg's strange appearance stems from the fact that the night they entered the Unknown was Halloween. Wirt, attempting to take back an embarrassing poetry tape he made for a girl he likes, had followed her to a graveyard scary story gathering before a police officer scared him and Greg into jumping over the cemetery's garden wall. On the other side of the wall, they landed on train tracks where Greg was almost hit by a train. Wirt pushed them both off a hill into a lake/river in an attempt to save him, knocking them both unconscious in the process and sending them to a Limbo-like realm between life and death.
At the end of the last episode, Wirt and Greg wake up in a hospital, with Greg telling a story but being cut off before we can hear what it's about. As the scene ends, Greg's frog begins to glow, due to having eaten a magic bell in The Unknown, suggesting that there was at least some physical aspect to the story. The series ends with a slow montage of how Wirt and Greg affected the inhabitants of the Unknown.
Why It Rocks
- Beautiful animation
- Epic plot
- Likeable characters
- Good humor
- Well-composed soundtrack
- Shady and colorful graphics like Teen Titans
- Fantastic visuals