2018 fall essentials


Courtesy — a screenshot from the video game “Night in the Woods.”

Fall is a wonderful time of the year. The harsh summer weather mellows out, the world around us takes on beautiful new colors, and the start of a new semester offers a fresh beginning full of potential. There’s nothing better than some good art to make the season even more special. Check out the works below to add a bit of spice that will turn your autumn magic up just a little bit more.

T.V. Miniseries: “Over the Garden Wall”

When we encounter sources of incomprehensible goodness, everything evil fades into irrelevance. “Over the Garden Wall” is one of these shining sources of hope. With its exquisite animation, powerful acting, and hilarious yet devastating script, “Over the Garden Wall” is not only the best Halloween film ever created, but also one of the best animated film projects period.

Our two heroes are Wirt, an angsty clarinet-playing teen (Elijah Wood) and his younger brother Greg (Collin Dean), who wears a kettle as a hat and continuously renames his pet frog. They’re lost in the middle of a fantastical American woodland, stumbling through a series of magical folktales which are both familiar and strange.

Under an unskilled hand, the show’s magical spirits and talking animals could have turned the show into an off-brand Disney flop. However, under a crew of veterans from “Spongebob Squarepants” and “Adventure Time,” “Over the Garden Wall” establishes a warm, unique personality that navigates gothic conflict and cute humor with grace. As if that wasn’t enough, the show boasts a number of absolutely spectacular songs that contain more wonderful melodies and memorable lyrics than many full-on musicals.

Not only is the show perfectly formatted — it’s divided into ten ten-minute episodes that are perfect for study breaks — it’s also subtly efficient, wasting no piece of dialogue or frame of animation. Jokes and characters that seem to be throwaways reappear with enriched meaning as the show winds towards its shockingly powerful conclusion. An absolute essential for any fan of Halloween, animation, or humanity in general, “Over the Garden Wall” is a masterwork that is as easy to watch as it is hard to forget.

Music: “Peripheral Vision” by Turnover

The general public has been sleeping on rock music for a while as hip-hop and R&B dominate the radio. However, there have been plenty of wonderful records coming out of the genre in the past years, and “Peripheral Vision” might just be the best. Turnover’s 2015 record inhabits a sweet spot that other indie rock bands had hinted towards — a perfect mix of atmospheric rock and sparkling, guitar-driven emo that’s both satisfyingly complex and gorgeous.

Turnover’s debut album, “Magnolia,” was a pretty straightforward emo and pop punk affair with a handful of strong tracks. On “Peripheral Vision,” they stripped back their noisy aggression to reveal the unbelievably catchy guitar and vocal lines anchoring each song. Subdued yet rich, “Peripheral Vision” glimmers with propulsive intensity that springs from excellent songwriting rather than aggressive performances. It’s brimming with the sort of slow-burning hooks The National has perfected, yet it trades in that band’s midlife moping for the rush of young loves found and lost.

It’s not often that a record can easily provide background for an October bonfire while boasting the colorfully complex arrangements of a tree mid-fall. “Peripheral Vision” is likely to quickly find its way into your heart this season and burst forth whenever sweaters and leafy streets come to mind.

Videogame: “Night in the Woods”

Are you an angsty college student who likes cats? Now that you’ve answered yes to this question, you need to go out and play “Night in the Woods,” a game where you play as an angsty college student who also happens to be a cat. Gorgeously animated in a textured paper cut-out style, “Night in the Woods” walks the reader through a zoomorphic town with cuteness matched only by its melancholic humanity.

You play the game as Mae, a cat who has recently returned to her childhood home to figure out her life after dropping out of college. She soon finds herself wrapped up in solving a Halloween mystery with her childhood friends, each of whom has remained in her hometown for a different reason. Over the course of the game, you explore Mae’s hometown through everyday situations given a touch of magical realism. Before the game is over, you’ll have slapped some bass, slammed brews in the middle of the woods, and, of course, shoplifted from the local Hot Topic.

While the mystery anchors the plot of “Night in the Woods,” the heart of the game lies in its characters and atmosphere. Each setting and conversation has been lovingly crafted. Even in its darkest moments, the wonder of day-to-day life radiates through the game’s detail. Patient pacing allows “Night in the Woods” to build nuanced identities for each of its characters. The end result is a game that stands testimony to the videogame as an incredibly powerful means for storytelling.