Time to stop being so serious. I want to mention something that even the most jaded adult secretly loves: cartoons. Not just Adult Swim either, where you can feel hip and ironic about watching cartoons with swearing and violence. No, I want to talk about cartoons actually meant for kids. Specifically, I want to talk about “Phineas and Ferb.”
This show is so strange, so creative, and so damn cool that I can hardly stand it. And it’s on the Disney Channel, not usually a hotbed of actual goodness. (Though I was also fond of “Kim Possible.”) Hard core cartoon fans remember the 1990’s Warner Brothers TV shows, from “Tiny Toons” to the immortal “Pinky and the Brain.” I haven’t heard anyone raving about anything on the Disney Channel.
The story of each episode is always the same, with some variations. Phineas and Ferb are two boys trying to make each day of summer vacation special. To do so, they build something huge in the back yard, from a roller coaster to a soccer stadium to a recording studio. Their teenage sister, Candace, believes that these are activities that their mother would disapprove of, so she spends all day trying to get their mother to see the amazing colossal whatever, therefore “busting” her brothers.
In the meantime, the family’s pet platypus, Perry, leads a double life. When called upon, he dons a fedora and becomes Agent P. He is briefed on the nefarious activities of local mad scientist Dr, Doofenschmirtz, and goes off to defeat the evil plan. Dr. D introduces an evil machine, the name of which usually ends in “inator.” Dr. D’s evil ambitions are limited to the tri-state area.
Perry’s defeat of Dr. Doofenshmirtz triggers the “inator” to in some way make the contruction in the back yard disappear just before Candace can show it to their mother. Perry reappears as a an ordinary pet platypus and someone says, “There you are, Perry.”
I can watch this show any time I come across it when channel flipping, and for some reason that is often in the wee hours of the morning. There is no real bad guy. Even Dr. D can be sympathetic because he tries so hard to be evil and can’t quite cut it. A neighborhood boy who is drawn like a traditional bully and started out acting like one has mellowed and joins in the day’s activity. The only fighting is comical secret-agent-vs.-evil-scientist-fighting.
Since this site is about writers, let’s hear it for Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, who pitched this for sixteen years (if I can trust Wikipedia) and kept at it until they got a trial on Disney. They also worked on shows as diverse as “Rocko’s Modern Life” and “Family Guy.” This is a big hit for Disney, so to them I say, don’t make writers with original ideas wait sixteen years.