Phineas and Ferb

Tagged: TV

US animated tv series (2007-2015). Disney Television Animation. Created by Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh. Directors include Robert F Hughes, Jay Lender, Zac Moncrief, Dan Povenmire and Sue Perrotto. Writers include Jon Colton Barry, Jim Bernstein, Antoine Guilbaud, Kaz, Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, Martin Olson, Scott D Peterson, Dan Povenmire, Kim Roberson and Aliki Theofilopoulos. Voice cast include Dee Bradley Baker, Vincent Martella, Dan Povenmire, Caroline Rhea, Thomas Sangster, Alyson Stoner and Ashley Tisdale. 133 episodes (usually with two stories), each 22 minutes save for six 45-minute specials. Colour.

During summer vacation cheerful Phineas Flynn (Martella) and his quiet stepbrother Ferb Fletcher (Sangster) seek to entertain themselves: fortunately they are multi-skilled, especially Ferb, whose engineering abilities are particularly noteworthy. There is usually a subplot involving Phineas's pet, Perry the Platypus (Baker), who – unbeknownst to the brothers – is a James Bond-style secret agent. He regularly foils the plans of the moderately evil Scientist Dr Heinz Doofenshmirtz (Povenmire).

The brothers' older sister Candace (Tisdale) attempts to thwart their endeavours by reporting them to their mother, Linda (Rhea), but is always frustrated – usually by the last-minute intrusion of the Perry the Platypus storyline, which fortuitously removes all evidence of their shenanigans just before Linda arrives. Sometimes Candace joins in their adventures, though often reluctantly. Another regular is the (scientifically proven to be cute) Isabella Garcia-Shapiro (Stoner), who has a crush on Phineas (though this is not reciprocated, he is genuinely fond of her): she and her girl-scout group are often of great help to the brothers.

A typical episode is "I Brobart", a pun on I, Robot (coll 1950) by Isaac Asimov. Realizing they have too many blueprints – for microscopic Zoos, tunnels to the centre of the Earth etc – and not enough vacation time to build them, the brothers create numerous Androids of themselves; but these prove too efficient, creating and executing their own blueprints ("Look, they've started their own overpriced coffee franchise"). Meanwhile Candace seizes her chance and calls their mother; however, the Professor's plan to erase the embarrassing messages he'd left on his girlfriend's phone now intervenes, with his giant magnet carrying off the androids just before Linda arrives.

Though not all the brothers' stories are genre – one involves increasing public awareness of the word "aglet" – there are numerous sf tropes including: giant Robots; Space Opera; Matter Transmission ("Oops, I forgot to instal the fly filter" – see "The Fly" (June 1957 Playboy) by George Langelaan); Steampunk; Dream Hacking; Aliens; Atlantis; Nanotechnology; tree-based Mecha; a portal to Mars where Candace becomes Queen and her face is carved on the planet's surface; the brothers conned into an Identity Exchange with alien prisoners, possibly influenced by Robert Sheckley's Mindswap (1966); a nineteenth-century Time Machine resembling the one in The Time Machine (1960); a 50-foot Candace, a problem resolved by increasing the size of the rest of the universe (see Great and Small); and giant ants seeking Transcendence. Perry's stories tend to be Technology-heavy, often featuring Dr. Doofenshmirtz's attempt to rule the Tri-State area, but others reflect his insecurities; his inventions can be impressive, such as the De-evolutionator, which reverts people back to Propliopithecus (see Devolution; Origin of Man).

Most episodes feature a catchy song. A running joke is an adult commenting, "Aren't you a little young to be working in a museum?" or similar, with Phineas calmly agreeing, "Yes, yes, I am." A funny, good-natured series, whose Humour is as likely to target adults as children (Phineas observes of Candace's sarcasm: "removing prepositions makes it even more condescending"). Much loved and very successful, it won both Daytime and Primetime Emmy awards. The specials include crossovers with the Star Wars and Marvel Comics franchises.

There were also two films: Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension (2011) and Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe (2020), as well as a stage show and the YouTube miniseries Doofenshmirtz's Daily Dirt (2013-2014). [SP]

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