December 18, 2017

TV Review: Phineas and Ferb

The kids and I watched the Phineas and Ferb Movie- Across the 2nd Dimension this weekend.  An elongated Phineas and Ferb episode, at just over an hour, the stepbrothers and their sister, Candace, along with their pet platypus, Perry, and nemesis, Doofenschmirtz, find themselves in a parallel universe, where Doofenschmirtz’s body double gets to rule and plenty of spies abound.


I’ve been wary of kids’ programming, especially cartoons, ever since my sons outgrew Elmo and Thomas the Train and I’d been led to believe the next logical transition was SpongeBob SquarePants.  Within a few times watching Sponge Bob, I noticed my little darlings were using words like “stupid” and “idiot,” and I quickly traced it back to the show.  As soon as they stopped watching, they went back to their old selves. It was amazing.


Then, recently, we watched an episode of The Simpsons with them.  I pretty much covered their ears and sang “lalalalalala” when Homer is hanging from a noose, suffocating, and his son, Bart, doesn’t even try to help him.  My 7 and 9-year-olds are at least old enough now that we could discuss with them why we think the show is inappropriate for kids. Every time I see an animated show on the Cartoon Network or on Disney, I automatically assume it will be more of the same- disguised for kids, but really meant for older viewers (if for anyone at all).


Phineas and Ferb falls somewhere in between Elmo and The Simpsons, and isn’t as bad as I was expecting.


The show’s strength is in the voices.  The characters are all caricatures and kids will get the humor.  Dumb sounds really dumb, evil sounds really evil, and silly sounds over the top.  As characters, Phineas and Ferb are surprisingly sweet, foils to the characters around them.  They are not the jaded, sullen boys Bart Simpson is.  Their sister, Candace, reminds me of Ferris Bueller’s sister, played by Jennifer Grey in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  Her mission in life is to sabotage her brothers’ plans and see that they get in trouble.


The sketches within the story line are like Saturday Night Live for kids. When the brothers lose their pet platypus, Perry, on their 5 year anniversary of getting him, they say, “I guess he can do what he wants; it’s his day.”  The irony is always witty. The kids may not always get the jokes, but combined with the great voices they just may.  I’m sure teens will like it.  I like it!


There were at least 3 original songs in the movie that were fresh, goofy and smart, and the regular episodes incorporate songs too. We all laughed when Doofenschmirtz meets his alter-ego in the 2nd Dimension and he bursts into, “I Found a New Best Friend and It’s Me.”  The satire in Phineas and Ferb reminds me a lot of The Simpsons, but it’s softer.  The slapstick humor and deadpan deliveries remind me what was so great about the movie Airplane.



It’s funny, the language is tame, but the screen flashes in Phineas and Ferb literally every second and after awhile I had to zone out to give my brain a rest. I actually felt like I was getting ADD from the quick pacing and blinking lights- it reminded me of why they say too much video gaming isn’t good for kids’ brains. During five separate scenes I counted one action for every second of the short movie. In fact, I wasn’t surprised to learn later there is also a video game based on the series.


It would be too much to let a kid plop in front of the television to watch more than one 30-minute episode of Phineas and Ferb at once. I would even go so far as to say watching it should be a special, once a week treat or so, at that. There were also some weapon scenes near the end that were a little strong for young viewers.  I recommend the show for kids over 7 and definitely only in small doses.phineas and ferb



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