Nerdy Monday ~8: Phineas and Ferb.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch the Disney Channel’s show “Phineas & Ferb”, go watch it. It really is an entertaining cartoon.. not just for little kids, but pre-teens, teens, 20-somethings (myself included!), adults with kids, adult without kids, adults who act like kids, and even adults with voices of little kids. I love watching cartoons who don’t exclusively cater to the target audience; but also cater to people who would most likely be “forced” to watch as well.
Phineas and Ferb fit into this category perfectly. Yes, it is entertaining for your children, but parents, you won’t be bored if you have no control over the remote.
History and “Failure”
The idea of Phineas and Ferb (P&F) was, I think to all of our surprise, conceived about 16 years ago. It seems weird doesn’t it? If you watch the show it’s all edgy, witty, hip, happening, and now. But in reality, the idea for P&F could actually have it’s Driver’s License in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Phineas and Ferb, over the years have been pitched to Cartoon Network, Fox Kids, and Nickelodeon, with the latter being really close to picking up the show, but P&F ultimately got shot down by the higher level executives. Everyone thought the show’s plot lines were “too complex” and even exclaimed that a show like this would “never air”. Now Disney is making its fat pockets a little fatter, thanks to the triangle headed boy and his british counterpart. All while CN, FK, and Nick are all going having stomach pains from the ulcers they get with every million P&F rake in for Disney. And with a Perry the Platypus “Plain Perry” Plush toy going for 50 freakin’ dollars, I’m guessing that happens a lot.
Povenmire and Marsh
You can’t talk about the genius and origins of P&F without talking about the shows creators; Dan Povenmire, and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh. let’s take them one at a time.
You may have seen his name during the credits of Family Guy, or maybe you remember him for playing a part in making The teenage Mutant ninja Turtles original series, either way, this guy has a lot of animation under his belt. Dan grew up in Mobile, Alabama. The biggest concept of the show, and basically every aspect of it was derived from Dan’s childhood. Dan’s mother told him never to waste a day of Summer vacation. There’s reports of him going above and beyond anything your average 10 year old does over the summer. For instance, he put black curtains up and covered one side of the living room all in black, to make a miniature outer-space, so that he could play with his rocketships. Judging from the amount of talent he has, and all of his creativity, I would expect nothing less.
In doing research for this article, I also learned that Dan Povenmire helped work on one of my favorite childhood staples, the extremely awesome and insanely popular 1990′s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The more I think about that time line, the more it makes sense. The ninja turtles taught us a lot of information about a lot of topics while they were on the air. If nothing else, we learned about where their names came from. I’m sure just about every reader out there around the age of 25 remembers the day they ran up to their parents saying: “Mommy, I wanna be like Michaelangelo!”, and her replying back in jest, “Well, you can get started by painting our ceiling!” or something clever like that. I can only imagine the look of confusion on all of our faces, when we heard that, or a similar comment about one of the names of the turtles. Something like “Whaaaaaaaaaaa…. ?]*%Q?”.
Remember that? Remember that moment of enlightenment (no pun intended) being that young and first hearing about the great men of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment Era? It open our minds up to something boundless through a channel that was entertaining! Talking about Donatello with my teacher at school was the first time I had ever heard the word “Sculptor”. I remember that vividly. A person that makes art out of clay, a sculptor. My vocabulary began to increase. It was one of the things I attribute my talents and knack for learning things quickly and doing them well, to — even to this day!
This is exactly what Phineas and Ferb are doing to the kids now. Opening up their mind, broadening their horizons, and making them more well rounded. I love it! I always catch myself saying stuff like: “I miss the cartoons I had growing up.”, or “Back in my day…”, haha, but not with P&F. It reminds me of all the good things I like being nostalgic about, and it’s brought into modern cartoons.
It’s also worth mentioning that Dan Povenmire is a college drop out and now works on “Family Guy” probably part time, and creates shows like Phineas & Ferb the other part of the time. I’m not ragging on Mr. Povenmire. He’s accomplished more than most people who have a college degree, and kudos to him for not ending up working in the back of a restaurant like some people who drop out, or are forced to take a few semesters off (like yours truly).
Jeff “Swampy” Marsh
Most of us know Mr. Marsh from the credits on The Simpsons. It’s true, he’s been with Matt Groening (Creator) probably since the beginning of the show. It’s also where he met, and became friends with Mr. Povenmire, as they were both layout artists. They bonded over mutual interests and eventually started up a project together. They pitched it and got it on the air for a while. It was a little project, most of us remember it fondly as Rocko’s Modern Life. Heard of it? Yeah, you’ve heard of it.
This was a show created by Marsh and Povenmire, which showcased the respective talents of each artist. And it shows what happens when the two of them get together– which is pure awesomeness.
Marsh contributes a lot to the show, I mean he is co-creator, and while reading about him, the first impression is that he rides on Dan Povenmire’s coat-tails, and I think that’s what a lot of people think. I don’t think so. I’m also not in a position to judge, and am a huge fan of his work in all of his animated endeavors. He DID come up with the idea for a blended family setting, which works well and adds a lot of flavor to an already tasty dish. He also is credited with “Ferb” as a name for Ferb’s character. He is actually named after a mutual friend of Povenmire & Marsh, who is said to own too many tools for just one man. Marsh also voices Major Monogram, which is a voice I wouldn’t expect from looking at a picture of him. All in all, Povenmire may have conceptualized P&F first, but it’s marsh who helps shape it into what it truly is: Spectacular!
Overall about the show
Go watch it. Now. This show won an Emmy for crying out loud, and was nominated for another three! Here’s one of my favorite songs from the show:
Still not convinced? It’s stuck in your head though, right? Here’s one of the best dance scenes ever!
Seriously, go Ferb. He rocks. The kid with the head in the shape of a Dorito… that’s Phineas, the star of the show really. He started out as a sketch on a cocktail napkin 16 years ago, and was dubbed “Triangle Boy”. Look at him now. He’s in the coolest cartoon on tv right now, that has not only the best and most creative plot, but also the best sub-plot ever. Yes. Perry the platypus is a guilty pleasure of mine, and I like hearing that little gargle noise he does. I think it’s hysterical and never miss an episode!
Obviously there was a lot of praise for this show from the beginning. But even this obviously awesome cartoon received some negative remarks. A lot of people called it “mundane”, and “complex”, and “brainless”. Can we say oxymorons? Kids can figure it out, and they love it. Adults love it. It pays tribute to the pioneers of animation: if you look closely, there are triangles and geometric shapes in the background of every episode, that’s classic Tex Avery/Looney Toons. It’s been compared to many different cartoons throughout the ages that have some historical significance. Rocky & Bullwinkle come to mind first, as well as the lady from USA Today that called it an “animated Parker Lewis Can’t Lose”. Anyone remember that? Wow I feel old.
All in all, I love this show, and I hope it is on the air for years to come. I’ll see you in line at Wal-Mart, I’ll be the 25 year old college-hiatus student buying Phineas & Ferb DVD’s.
POSTSCRIPT: I totally forgot to mention the way P&F from a glance seems impossible, but it’s not too far fetched. All of the characters are based in reality, and the activities are a little out there and far fetched, but who’s to say that kids don’t get excited the way P&F do when they build something? Next time, I won’t write an article without an outline.
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