25 April 2008 | aimless-46
Repeat Viewings Recommended
If you could distill out the clever irreverent wit and the "something for all ages" mix of gags and references from "Family Guy", "The Simpsons", "SpongeBob", and South Park"; and then jettison all the off-color, negative, and crude low-hanging fruit elements of those cartoons you would get something like The Disney Channel's "Phineas and Ferb" which premiered in August 2007.
The title characters, non-stop talker Phineas (Vincent Martella) and his usually silent brother Ferb (Thomas Sangster) are suburban stepbrothers trying to make the most of their summer vacation. This means constructing elaborate gadgets like a time machine and a roller- coaster, or making a feature film. They are usually assisted by an industrious troop of Camp Fire Girls (Fireside Girls) led by their neighbor Isabella (Alyson Stoner) who has a major crush on Phineas. The brothers are just trying to have a fun summer, they aren't trying to cause trouble or be cool, and they are at that age where boys are not even conscious of girls or of who is popular.
Typically their teenage sister Candace (Ashley Tisdale) gets reluctantly drawn into their projects as she strives to keep them from embarrassing her in front of her crush Jeremy (Mitchell Musso). Each storyline has her trying to "bust them" by phoning their mother about the latest home project, but by the time Mom gets home all evidence has conveniently vanished. Although there is a sibling rivalry the three obviously care about each other. Candace is the best part of the series and Tisdale does unexpectedly well supplying her voice; the part is very challenging, as the mercurial Candace requires a wide range of intonations and energy levels in her voice.
Although the series could get by just cutting between Candace and her brothers, it ups the energy level each episode with a "Kim Possible" type parallel story involving the family's pet platypus Perry (he's a semi-aquatic, egg-laying, mammal of action). Perry is a secret agent assigned to foil the plots of evil (but hopelessly inept) scientist Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz (co- creator Dan Povenmire).
The animation style is the same simplistic stuff (Phineas' head is a triangle) found in the other four cartoon series although like "SpongeBob" the occasional "real-life" photo is thrown into the mix.
For the benefit of boy viewers, a more serious drawing style is devoted to one of the minor characters, Dr. Doofenshmirtz's beautiful daughter Veronica (Olivia Olson). She is a goth version of Dr. Dome's daughter Lynx from DC's 1960's "Plastic Man" comics.
"Phineas and Ferb" might be the all-time best "compromise" cartoon; incorporating many subtle elements for adult viewers while relying on its absurdist humor and identification elements to hook both pre-teens and teens.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.