Infinity Train – What It’s About, and Why We’re Paying Attention
All aboard the hype train. The Infinity Train hype train that is.
The series premiere of Infinity Train, a five-night animated mini-series on Cartoon Network, aired this week on Monday, August 5th at 7:30pm Pacific Time. The five-night special event will take place every night this week ending tomorrow on Friday, Aug 9th.
What is Infinity Train about? What’s with all the hubbub? Why are we paying attention? We’ll break down the show’s background, plot and what we think makes the show interesting!
What’s With All the Hubbub?
First, a little background to give you some context. Infinity Train is a show created by Owen Dennis, a former storyboard artist and writer for the Cartoon Network staple-series Regular Show.
The original test pilot for Infinity Train aired on Nov 1, 2016 on Cartoon Network, then was released on Cartoon Network’s official YouTube channel the following day.
The show’s original plot and setting quickly fostered a growing fanbase which escalated the hype by clamoring to have the pilot made into a full Cartoon Network original series. At time of writing, the YouTube pilot has close to 5 million views and has garnered a successful Change.org internet petition of 56,000 backers. The show even has its own subreddit.
What’s Infinity Train Even About?
Infinity Train stars Ashley Johnson (Ben 10, Recess, What Women Want) who plays Tulip Olsen, a 13-year old aspiring programmer from Minnesota on her way to a weekend game design camp when she finds herself transported to a mysterious train in a barren wasteland where every car contains its own pocket universe.
One car can contain wizard gnomes. Another car is a kingdom of talking corgis. Yet another car is a grid which creates cubes when you touch the floor or wall panels.
One car is even just a fart. No really. It’s in the pilot.
Tulip is accompanied by One-One, a robot with a dual-personality who she meets on the train. One personality is bubbly and relentlessly optimistic. The other half is manically depressed and continually expects the worst (think Marvin the Paranoid Android from the Hitchhiker’s Guide series here).
The plot has Tulip navigating the train from one car to the next, attempting to solve its mysteries and find a way to escape the train and return home.
Series Premiere Synopsis – The Beach Car
We don’t want to spoil too much, but we’ll give you a quick synopsis of last Monday’s series premiere:
As Tulip navigates her way through the Infinity Train, she encounters a crossword puzzle car, a pinball car, the wizard gnome car, and finally, the beach car.
There, she encounters a sly and somewhat sinister talking cat posed as a salesperson who tells her she can introduce her to the train’s conductor who can bring her home.
But there’s a catch: in exchange for a meeting with the conductor, she has to give up her friend One-One.
Not seeing any other options, she agrees. Soon afterward, however, she regrets her decision realizing that she has abandoned someone who, although often unreliable and disconnected from reality, means the best and genuinely cares about her.
Tulip is an analytical person by nature, and part of the fun of the show lies in watching her examine and pick apart the different puzzles, problems and predicaments she finds herself in as we try to figure things out along with her.
Also, we now know three additional things after the series premiere:
– The train has a conductor. One-One seems to be right about that.
– Tulip needs to find the conductor to get off the train.
– The number on Tulip’s hand is a counter that keeps counting down. Right now it’s at 113.
What happens when the number on her hand reaches 0? Can the conductor really bring her home? Does the conductor even really exist?
We guess we’ll know once the series wraps up on Friday.
Why We Think Infinity Train is Neat
What makes Infinity Train so fascinating to us is the pure genius of its premise and concept.
A magical (alien?) train that goes on forever with infinity cars containing infinite alternate realities is the kind of ingenious, self-feeding plot device that can potentially keep a show generating fresh and original story ideas for years or even decades. It’s similar in prospect and scope to what Doctor Who, the longest-running sci-fi television series in history, accomplished with the T.A.R.D.I.S., a spaceship that can travel anywhere in time and space.
Just think of all the possibilities. What could be in the next car?
A room full of infinite monkeys with infinite typewriters making a screenplay for Richard III?
Or maybe it’s a universe where everything is shown in abstract, cubist perspectives like a Picasso painting?
Or maybe it’s a world where all movement is shown in flickering snapshots like a zoetrope?
Or maybe it’s just a fart car? We don’t know!
That aside, however, the show has been subject to a lot of theory, speculation, fan-theories and mystery surrounding both the show itself and its creation.
Why did the train choose to abduct Tulip like it appears to have done? Is there any underlying logic to what’s inside one car to the next? Will Tulip ever unravel the mysteries of the train and find her way home?
Then there’s the show’s production. As we previously discussed, the show’s set-up lends itself to potentially infinite story ideas. So why is it just getting a 5-episode miniseries? Will there be any episodes after the 5-night special event? Is there anything at all in store for the show after it ends?
Well, we can partially answer one of those questions: Infinity Train is in a miniseries format because that’s how the creators wanted it.
Creator Owen Dennis released a video called 12 Things You Need To Know about Infinity Train last year. In the video, Dennis explains that when Infinity Train was finally greenlit, Cartoon Network gave the team creative freedom in how they wanted to make and release the show. They responded that they wanted to release it as a special event miniseries.
That’s fair enough. After all, Over the Garden Wall took the same route back in 2014. Five years later, it’s still a Cartoon Network favorite and people still talk about how great it is. The story was exactly as long as it needed to be without overstaying its welcome and left a lingering impact that left its mark on its fans.
Maybe Infinity Train will do the same thing and tell the story it needs to tell in just five episodes…
Will we ever know?
We’ll revisit these questions after the Infinity Train special event wraps up this Friday.
And if you want to catch all the episodes of the Infinity Train miniseries in one place, you need look no further than use your TiVo’s OnePass feature to get all the upcoming episodes as soon as they’re released.
If you need a refresher on how TiVo’s OnePass feature works, just click on this link.
Until then, we’ll just leave you with this question for now: what do you think is in the next car?
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