Let’s face it: most TV today is trash. Excessive violence? Check. Sex? Check. Foul language? Check. Shallow stories and characters? Check. Humor that’s either crass, just plain dumb, or both? Check. Anyone who enjoys these kind of things has absolutely no trouble finding them during your everyday television broadcasting.
But, as we all know, there are some good TV shows out there — not as many as there are bad ones, but they do exist. They may not be completely free of the negative things that plague most other TV shows, but their strong points outweigh their weak ones. Praise God for the writers who create them, am I right?
Now, I personally don’t watch a lot of TV, but there are a handful of shows that I really enjoy a lot. My personal favorite is the Disney Channel cartoon Phineas and Ferb. (What do you mean, you already knew that?)
I first heard about the show back in early 2008, in a Boys’ Life magazine ad, around the time the show was first being broadcast. I didn’t think much of the ad — in fact, I looked at it with disdain, noting that the show was on Disney Channel, which I think pretty much all of my readers will agree has very little material on it worth watching on a regular basis.
Fast forward a few years, and I started hearing good things about the show from some of my best guy friends. They said the show was really funny, especially for geeks, nerds, and the like. I was still a little skeptical — come on, a Disney Channel show is that good? But eventually, at a get-together with these same guys, I was encouraged to sit down during dinner and try watching an episode.
Before long, I was laughing out loud.
But there was more than just the humor. The theme song’s lyrics drew me in almost at once:
“There’s a hundred and four days of summer vacation ’til school comes along just to end it
So the annual problem for our generation is finding a good way to spend it
Building a rocket, or fighting a mummy, or climbing up the Eiffel Tower
Discovering something that doesn’t exist, or giving a monkey a shower”
Et cetera. Not only was there exuberant goofiness in the words, but also a subtle but clear message: maybe kids shouldn’t spend their summers (or any of their time, really) wasting away being bored. Maybe they should be creative, think outside the box, and have fun doing it.
The basic premise of the show, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, is this: stepbrothers Phineas and Ferb — the former a talkative, enthusiastic triangle-headed kid and the latter a googly-eyed, mostly silent “man of action” — want to make the most of their summer vacation, and so every day they come up with some kind of crazy project to do, most often with their friends helping out. These projects range from building a roller coaster to fixing a time machine and visiting the dinosaurs to becoming one-hit-wonders to finding the lost city of Atlantis. Their older sister, Candace, tries to “bust” them for these potentially dangerous projects to their mother, while also dealing with her own troubles (mostly involving her crush, Jeremy). Meanwhile, the boys’ pet platypus, Perry, is actually a secret agent who fights against the evil Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, who tries to come up with his own crazy project every day in the hope of taking over “the entire Tri-State Area!” These three central plotlines of the show often interconnect, producing hilarious results.
So why is this my favorite show? Well, first, on the surface, for several reasons:
- It’s a legitimately funny — sometimes hysterical — show. There’s all kinds of humor: physical humor, word play, pop culture references and spoofs, irony, fourth wall breaks, running gags, etc.
- It’s well-written. Good plots, excellent characterizations, and intelligent writing. Instead of trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator, as many shows do, Phineas and Ferb is a show for smart people.
- Every episode has a song of some sort, and these are most often really good and fun to sing, much like the songs from VeggieTales.
- The production quality is great. Good animation and wonderful voice acting.
I think, though, the main reason I like the show so much is something that runs a little deeper. Unlike many other shows, it’s not cynical or condescending. It’s positive and encouraging with an enthusiastic outlook on life. The central theme is the Latin phrase “carpe diem,” or “seize the day.” That’s a great message and one I hope everyone who sees the show — not just kids — will take to heart.
The show isn’t perfect — there’s occasional crude humor, sometimes when it goes a more serious route it doesn’t always feel right, and some episodes aren’t nearly as good as others. Overall, though? It’s a wonderful show and I could go on forever about how great it is. I’ll spare you that, though, and just encourage you to give it a shot if you haven’t already. If you have and don’t really get it, try a bit more. Try some of my personal favorite episodes. In no particular order: “We Call It Maze” (my first episode), “Hail Doofania,” “The Chronicles of Meap,” “Excaliferb,” “Don’t Even Blink,” “Dude, We’re Getting the Band Back Together,” “Put That Putter Away,” “Does This Duckbill Make Me Look Fat?” “Oh, There You Are, Perry,” “The Lake Nose Monster,” “Thaddeus and Thor,” “Split Personality,” and “My Fair Goalie.”
That should be enough. If you watch all of those and still don’t like it, or if you can’t even get through all of those, I won’t judge you. Pinkie promise.
I think that about wraps this post up. I think I’ll end with . . .
“CURSE YOU, PERRY THE PLATYPUS!!!!!!!!”