When Nathan W. Pyle started posting his Strange Planet web comic series on his Instagram profile in early 2019, he probably didn't expect to see it adapted into a web series in a few years. The comics, following a species of blue beings on a different planet very similar to Earth, has the beings describe their very human-like experiences in literal terms, to humorous effect. The Strange Planet web series is fabulously true to the source material, in both aesthetic and dialogue.
The series, co-created by Pyle with Dan Harmon (known for his work on Community and Rick and Morty), is available to stream now on Apple TV+. Three episodes are available to watch now, with new episodes dropping every Wednesday (in India) till the 10-episode run for the first season is completed. Each episode is under 30 minutes long, and is packed with its own unique stories and situations; read on for my spoiler-free review.
Strange Planet review: Technical and literal terminology is hilarious
Just like the comics, the dialogue in Strange Planet is the key to the show, with the blue beings describing everything in technically accurate and literal wording. That's not to say that the dialogue is emotionless or too straightforward - in fact it's the opposite. Fans of the Instagram comics might have read out the words in a fairly robotic manner, but the characters are more human-like than you might have expected.
The Strange Planet series is based on the web comics by Nathan W. Pyle
This over-the-top literal dialogue makes for plenty of laugh out loud moments, such as referring to confetti as ‘tiny trash' and alcoholic drinks as ‘mild poison'. The characters are also incredibly blunt about their emotions and feelings, and the lack of pretence and sarcasm is an excellent way to demonstrate to the viewers how complicated our interactions have become, and how sometimes reading into things isn't as easy as it seems.
Strange Planet review: Artwork that sticks to the source material
Whenever a literary source is adapted - either in the form of animation or live action - the artists get to take some creative liberties in how the aesthetic is defined. With Strange Planet being a comic, the aesthetic has already been set in stone, and fortunately the web series sticks to the now iconic looks and expressions of the world. This includes not just the blue beings themselves, but also the creatures, with subtle touches such as three-eyed pigeons and dogs.
For obvious reasons, the comics weren't as detailed in showing the world around - comic panels tend to focus on the characters. Strange Planet has rightly taken some liberty here, and if you've watched Rick and Morty you'll find the artwork quite familiar. It blends rather well with the established art from the comics; this collaboration between Pyle and Harmon is clearly well thought out and executed.
Strange Planet review: Quick stories focused on the ‘human' element
Each episode of Strange Planet features its own unique stories and scenarios exploring very ‘human-like' topics of emotion, such as fear, sadness, loneliness, and anxiety. Friendships and romantic relationships exist, as do the pressures of employment and enjoyment. Just like the comics, nothing gets too complicated - the focus is firmly on the dialogue, and the emotion that can be portrayed with being excessively literal and giving figurative expressions a skip.
With short episodes, this is the perfect series to watch quickly or during short breaks or phases where you need something funny to lighten the mood. If you're a fan of the comics like I am, you don't want to miss this. Even if you haven't stumbled upon this Internet sensation previously, Strange Planet is easy enough to enjoy for everyone.
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