I remember the days back in elementary school where I would come home and jump right onto the TV and scrolling to see what was on. Early 2000’s kids programming was a strange landscape to browse. Most were late 90’s shows that were trying to stay relevant during the new millennium or experimental programs that were testing just how crazy they could be to get the attention of a younger audience. In 2001 a new show graced our televisions and quickly became a personal favorite, Invader ZIM. Now, 13 years after the original series left our homes, Netflix brings us Enter the Florpus, but can it capture the style that had us glued to the screens all those years ago?
Invader ZIM was so drastically different than anything else at the time, even during a period of strange experimentation in kids programming. Courage the Cowardly Dog is probably the most successful “dark” kids show, so more shows were coming out to pick up on the fascination kids had with imagery and themes that we all knew we shouldn’t like, but had us coming back to see more every time. Invader ZIM has some of the best episodes that really creep me out as a kid. Remember the episode were Zim becomes obsessed with organs and starts to transfer random ones from people into himself (titled Dark Harvest)? And yet still had some of the funniest characters and interactions, making it easily one of my favorite shows to watch…when it was on, since it only got two seasons and did not air that often.
Now, Netflix gives us a full hour special that brings back a large majority of the original cast. Enter the Florpus feels like you haven’t missed a day with these characters, everything is just the way you remember…besides Gaz, Dibs sister, who for some reason got an overhaul in her design. Nothing too crazy, just different. But the writing and characters are just how you remember. Wacky, zanny, and insanely fun to revisit. Any fan of the show will just melt into this special.
I love the concept for this continuation. Zim has been gone for an extended period of time, so Dib has gone insane trying to figure out just where he went. Then, just at random, Zim is back and doing stretches in his front yard. After a good warm up, Zim announces that he is now ready to prepare the Earth for the arrival of his alien armada to take it over. This time, he actually means it. It’s up to Dib and Gaz to somehow stop Zim as his plans start to go way out of hand. Dib is a standout in this, he feels like a true protagonist that we want to root for and his relationship with his father, a dynamic never really touched on in the original series, feels oddly natural in this.
So I have avoided mentioning someone that to any long time fan of the show knows is the true star of the show. Gir, the dim-witted yet lovable companion robot to Zim….might actually be the weakest part of Enter the Florpus. Actually typing that hurt…but it needs to be said. I love Gir, just look at that face. I sometimes sing the Doom Song just because I’m bored, but that can not excuse just how forced the writers tried to make him funny in this. Sometimes the nostalgic bizarre antics he gets into can get an audible laugh from me, but other times a skit will go on for sooooo long, just Gir doing random things and cutting to a characters reaction or lack there of. Yes, he will say stuff that is so random it catches you off guard and you laugh. Then he rolls in a pizza for two minutes and you just want to move on to something else.
It’s not just Gir though, for some reason characters want to break the forth wall by stating how long its been since we last saw Zim over and over again. It worked really well during the first act, but by halfway through I don’t need to be reminded that Zim has been off the air for literal years, but in the shows time its been only a few months. Again, great concept, just brought up way too many times . And that sucks, much of the hour run time is some tight writing that can be really funny. Then you watch a scene that doesn’t feel anything like the original and throws you off.
If you loved or even just watched Invader Zim in passing back in the early 2000’s, Enter the Florbus feels like you just grabbed the remote and turned the TV on to your favorite channel again. It feels great to see these characters again and somehow are preserved so well after all these years. For me the jokes can last just a tad too long, but I seem to be in the minority. It’s still so much fun to watch and worth an hour of your time.