In February 2015, Cartoon Network’s upcoming programming was revealed upfront.
It was announced that Adventure Time would be airing a miniseries called Stakes during the seventh season of the show. This would contain 8 episodes and start airing in November 2015.
Launched to great success, the miniseries became the number one rated program of the time period.
Before Stakes was aired, Kent Osborne (head story writer) had revealed the show would probably produce more miniseries.
After the end of the series was announced in 2018, the official press release from the network stated that there would be further episodes, special, and miniseries to follow.
Cartoon Network started teasing information about the miniseries prior to its release. In November 2016, for example, ComiXology revealed that Islands, a graphic novel would tie into Adventure Time in the winter. Later that same month, you could pre-order the Island DVD on Amazon. In December, Adventure Time’s official Tumblr account stated that the miniseries would enjoy a proprietary title sequence. No further explanations were given about Islands or when it would air.
On December 12, 2016, official announcements were distributed via a press release.
Just like Stakes, Islands also has a unique title sequence storyboarded by Sam Alden. Science SARU, Masaaki Yuasa’s company, was responsible for animation. This new sequence was previewed on Cartoon Network’s Facebook page as well as the official Adventure Time Tumblr account on December 12.
Unlike the usual sequence for Adventure Time, the Islands intro has a nautical theme with the characters of Finn, Jake, BMO, and Susan Strong highlighted. Jeremy Shada (Finn’s voice actor) sings the theme itself.
The story was developed by Kent Osborne (head writer) along with Adam Muto, and Jack Pendarvis and Ashly Burch.
There were many storyboard artists who worked on the miniseries including Sam Alden, Seo Kim, Tom Herpich, and Adam Muto.
Elizabeth Ito and Cole Sanchez were served supervising directors, with Sandra Lee as art director.
Release and reception
Islands aired forming part of the eighth season of the show on Cartoon Network between January 30, 2017 and February 2, 2017.
The international debut was on Cartoon Network Australia on March 13, 2017. From here, the series started airing worldwide.
The first 2 episodes – “The Invitation” and “Whipple the Happy Dragon” – were watched by 1.2 million viewers. They each scored 0.3 for the 18-49 year-old segment according to Nielsen. This means that 0.3% of all households with viewers in that age demographic were watching the TV as the episodes aired. This made the episodes the most-watched installments since “Five Short Tables” in the seventh season captured an audience of 1.36 million.
Over a million viewers watched the final 2 episodes of the season. These episodes scored 0.27 for the same demographic according to Nielsen.
Pre-release reviews were mainly positive.
The same positive sentiment extended to post-release reviews, too. The AV Club awarded the miniseries an A rating and applauded the way the series has grown from “smaller, sillier tales” into something “much deeper.” He also praised the depth of the supporting characters, Dr Gross, Martin, and Susan Strong in particular.
The New Republic’s Juliet Kleber also wrote a glowing review referencing the “dizzying amount of plot development.
Common Sense Media gave the Islands miniseries “The Common Sense Seal”.
The episode “Imaginary Resources” won a Primetime Emmy Award in 2017.