Let me go on record by saying that I LOVE Invader Zim, but I totally understand if you don't. I mean, this was a heavily polemic show of the time (and was even brought as evidence during a homicide trial). But I'm not going to discuss that, as there are plenty of sites that already take charge of such matters; I´m here to discuss the actual cartoon with my fellow members. So, let's begin!
Invader Zim follows the adventures of a extremely paranoid (and incredibly stupid) alien named Zim. He is part of a vast empire named «The Irkens», the most powerfull race in the universe, whose whole point of existence is to conquer other planets and slave the inhabitants of said worlds in order to keep their war machine ongoing. However, Zim is sent to Earth in an attempt to get rid of him and his constant disasters -he was single handedly responsible of the failure of the first massive plan of the empire- his leaders didn't even know that the Earth was an actual planet, and were hoping him to die in the void cold space.
Once on Earth, Zim met his nemesis, a genius -but equally as paranoic- boy named Dib, whose obsession with the paranormal stuff had made the rest of the planet acknowledge him as being total nuts. And he also got to met his sister Gaz, a very sinister girl who is probably the only person aside from Dib that knows Zim is an alien, but doesn't even bother in telling anyone of doing anything against him cuz she regards Zim as being a total failure at what he is trying to get to.
Zim also has a minion of his very own, a robot named GIR (which doesn't stand for anything, by the way) the latest of the Irken technology and a vital device in order to infiltrate enemy planets... only that the leaders intentionally made this robot amazingly stupid, and thus, completely useless. But the funny is part is that, as dim-witted as he is, GIR has had great success amongst the humans, because he acts like one, and has no problem interacting with them.
During the course of the series, Zim and Dib will fight each other in multiple times, but every single match they fought ended up being a total wreckage and backfired in at least one of them (if not both). I won't spoil anything here, but I wanna talk about something before I'm done with this.
Even when I have already said that I love this cartoon, I still found it incredibly disturbing at times, and there is a handfull of episodes that I won't see again (like The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever and Dark Harvest). But aside from that, it is really darn good. Many of the regular episodes made me wonder if I was going to suffer a heart attack just because I couldn't stop laughing... and any cartoon capable of deliver Animaniacs Kind of laughs well into the Spongebob era has to be recognized... which brings an interesting point to the table: Many cartoons after this were focusing almost entirely on the story, but forgot to bring the humor with them, and as a result, many of them felt like they didn't belong on Nickelodeon -not that Zim felt different, but this was supposed to be a one-shot deal-. Cartoons like My life as a Teenage Robot and Danny Phantom were almost masterpieces of their own, but I haven't laugh ONCE during their entire runs, and that has to be a sin.
Nickelodeon cancelled Invader Zim after two seasons (or 46 episodes if you will) by -and listen to this- «having a great cult following»... the problem was that this «cult» was actually teenagers and adults more than kids, and the network didn't quite appreciate the black humor that came from the show in almost every episode. But when they finally released the thing on DVD, it was such an astronomical success (pun intented) that they had to re-release the thing TWO more times (with equal results).
It is no surprise that the show always scored the maximum points when it was reviewed, it definitely was something different, and the humor was SO good that you had to like it (unless you are either made of rock or a TV Network executive). And you know what the biggest shame of all was? Way before we knew that the show was cancelled (in South America, I mean) they had an entire weekend marathon of the thing (out of 27 episodes we had at the time!!!). They pulled off the same trick with Are you afraid of the Dark?, and it was almost insulting really.
Just like Futurama, Invader Zim was awfully mistreated, and poorly directed by its network. They basically confronted the series creator and asked him to tone down the core elements of the design and he said «no». That was the end of all. Unlike said fellow space show, however, Invader Zim wasn't picked again by any other network... and maybe, that's for the best. I'd rather have a half-baked cartoon that is all good, than a really big one that sux half the time.
First published here: http://80scartoons.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6347