Total Drama Island: The Complete Season (DVD Review)14 Aug, 2009 By: John Latchem
$34.99 four-DVD set
Cartoon Network is billing “Total Drama Island” as the first animated reality competition show, which may technically be true. As far as “animated reality shows” go, Comedy Central’s “Drawn Together” came first, having debuted in 2004, but never seemed to be about a competition. “Total Drama Island” originally debuted in Canada in 2007 before hitting American airwaves last year.
Unlike “Drawn Together,” which was as much a parody of the animation genre as it was reality TV, “Total Drama Island” has crafted original characters based on teenage and reality show stereotypes.
“Total Drama Island” also is appropriate for a wider audience than is “Drawn Together,” more content to compete with the likes of “Scooby-Doo” than “South Park.” Older kids should have no trouble following the ongoing storylines and character development. But in case that bores them, there’s also a steady stream of poop and fart jokes.
The competition is designed around a run-down summer camp, where 22 contestants converge for a chance to win $100,000 and a few weeks of tabloid fame. Like any reality show, each week features a different challenge, and the losing team is forced to vote off one of its members. There’s even a vain pretty-boy host to guide the action.
Being animated, however, the show is quite necessarily scripted, and while “Total Drama Island” makes an earnest effort to lampoon reality TV, most of the time it feels less wild than its real-life counterparts.