Animated Shorts 601: Phineas & Ferb Keep Summer Alive
Animated Shorts 601: Phineas & Ferb
September 22nd marks the first day of autumn. That doesn’t mean much to Dan Provenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, though, as they continue to play in the summer time. On Monday, September 21, the two showrunners launch their second season of their hit show “The Adventures of Phineas and Ferb.”
The show’s theme song, sung by pop punk band Bowling For Soup, talks about there being 104 days of summer. One of the premises of the show is each episode represents a day in Phineas and Ferb’s life. So, there are still a lot of stories to tell.
“We’re finishing up around [episodes] #60 through #65,” says Provenmire. “That’s complete production. As far as the number that’s gone on the air, it’s somewhere in the 50s.”
“Our contract is for one hundred episodes; curiously not 104. We’ve told Disney we’re actually four away from the theme song. We’ll see what happens. From there, we can always go to the next summer, I suppose. We can also get the missing four through movies. We’ll figure out a way.
“We’re actually in production of six of the next 39,” adds Marsh.
Whatever the number actually is, the first new episode is entitled “Phineas and Ferb’s Quantum Boogaloo.” The Mouseworks is putting a ton of promotional muscle behind it, with good reason. The first season got the series two Daytime Emmy nominations, exceptional ratings and a very large and growing fan base of kids and parents.
“We’ve actually already been picked up for a third season!,” Provenmire exclaims, who has worked with Marsh since the met doing “Rocko’s Modern Life.” “We’re starting the third season as we speak. We just don’t have a break. So it just seems like one big season, but it does feel great.
“We’re just so happy to be doing this show together. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for so long. We’re also thrilled that we’ve found an audience and the show is actually getting ratings. We are thrilled beyond belief.”
“We got a chance to go out to Comic Con and into the community in general,” says Marsh, “just going out and about to talk to people and find out what they think. It’s so hugely gratifying to find out the reasons that we thought the show would connect with the kids and their parents are actually the reasons why it’s connecting with the kids and their parents. It’s great when the people you talk to feed that stuff right back to you.
“It’s overwhelming and makes you emotional. It’s the most rewarding thing in the world. All the stuff we fought for and believed in is actually working the way we wanted it to work.”
One episode that "actually worked" was entitled “Dude! We’re Getting the Band Back Together.” The plot centered around the boys trying to get their parents’ favorite band, Love Handel, back together for their wedding anniversary.
“That was an episode we had to fight for because it wasn’t centered completely around the kids,” Provenmire explains. “It was centered around the kids getting their parents together because their parents were having a rift.
“They said they didn’t think kids were going to identify with that. Little did they think that kids really identified with it because there’s nothing more threatening to them than a rift in the family. Kids just want their parents to be sweet to each other. Kids just want their parents to be happy. If they see an opportunity to do something nice for their parents, they are going to do it.”
The payoff was two Emmy nominations, including one for Best Song, “I Ain’t Got Rhythm.” The episode is also loaded with visual puns for hardcore P&F fans.
“The character Swampy was drawn to look like Swampy and the character of Danny was drawn to look like me,” says Provenmire. “We are two of the members of Love Handel. The third is actually drawn to look like one of our writers, Bobby Gaylord. He actually voices Buford in the episode.”
“[The song was] Sung by Steve Zahn, who was the voice of the character Swampy,” adds the real Swampy.
The real secret of the show is something most fans have long sussed out. Every episode can be easily divided into two interwoven parts. Phineas (voiced by Vince Martella) and Ferb (Thomas Sangster) are two stepbrothers on a 104-day long summer vacation. Both are geniuses and are quite comfortable with it. They resolve that they should have a different adventure every single day.
If that means building the greatest rollercoaster ever, putting a ski slope (replete with snow) up on one of the hottest days of summer, or travelling in a time machine, that’s alright by them. It doesn’t hurt that each episode comes with at least one original song, either.
The only one not comfortable with this arrangement is Phineas’ sister, Candace (Ashley Tisdale). She has two sole missions in her teenaged life. The first is to marry the boy-next-door. The other is to “bust” Phineas and Ferb. She’s as committed to stopping their adventures as they are in having them.
The second part centers on the boys’ pet platypus, Perry (Dee Bradley Baker). In reality, he’s a secret agent. His mission, as he’s reminded every day by his handler, Major Monogram (Marsh), is to thwart the latest crazed scheme by Doctor Doofenshmirtz (Provenmire).
Somehow one thread has its effect on the other. Provenmire and Marsh take full advantage of this with “Quantum Boogaloo.”
“We did a time machine episode in the first season that we really liked,” says Provenmire. “We left the time machine available to the kids specifically so we can do something else with it later on. So we thought, how fun would it be if Phineas and Ferb go into the future and actually see Candace as an adult? That drags up all kinds of memories of not being able to bust them.”
“I remember when they did an episode of “Star Trek,” and the Deep Space 9 crew went back in time to be part of the “Trouble With Tribbles” episode,” adds Marsh. “Now a buddy of mine, whose name is Ferb, was one of the guys who had to go and rebuild some of those sets. I thought that was such a great concept, such a great way to interweave a story.”
As a final twist, Provenmire and Marsh went back to their pilot episode, “Rollercoaster” and gave it the Tribbles treatment; Phineas and Ferb style.
“Rollercoaster was one of our favorite episodes,” says Provenmire. “It will probably always be because we did it before the show was picked up. It was our pilot. It was great fun to revisit and change it all up. We thought it would be great to have future Candace go back to the rollercoaster. Then whatever she did would effect the future, in this case give Doofenshmirtz the upper hand and effectively change history.”
“We always liked the way that what Doofenshmirtz and Perry do interacts and effects what the boys are doing,” says Marsh. “So it seemed logical that whatever Candace does to the past, it would effect what Doofenshmirtz and Perry are doing. From there, all we had to work out was what was the funniest and the most interesting.”
“So in the end we further establish there is this tenuous yet synchronistic relationship between what the boys are doing and what Doofenshmirtz and Perry are doing,” concludes Provenmire. “They effect each other in ways that we never fully understand, but if you throw off that little balance of power of their [respective] activities, all hell could break loose.”
If this seems a bit convoluted, the truth is Provenmire and Marsh manage to pull it all off with incredible ease. That’s because the two think their audience is more than capable of understanding what they do.
“All the shows we ever worked on were smart shows,” says Marsh. “They were all successful, yet they were all also unconventional.”
“They don’t talk down to their audience,” adds Provenmire.
“We never underestimate the audience,” says Marsh.
As for the future of the series? The two will be abandoning summer for one special, a Christmas one.
“As always, they’re not in school,” says Marsh.
“As long as we don’t have to draw them behind school desks, we’re happy,” Provenmire continues. “It actually does take place during Christmas. We even re-wrote the theme song so it will fit the holiday.”
As for the marketing push, Disney has an online campaign where the fans get to choose their favorite P&F songs. Entitled the “Claptastic Countdown,” Provenmire and Marsh then decided to add their own spin on it. They will produce a special episode where Doofenshmirtz and Monogram will host a countdown of the top ten selections.
If that isn’t enough, a CD of their music will be released on the first day of Fall, September 22.
So it looks like there will be an endless summer on Disney XD September 21 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Phineas and Ferb will make sure it happens.
BIG NEWS FROM DISNEY D23
Disney had some pretty interesting announcements at their D23 convention last week. Among them were:
DEL TORO TO START OWN ANIMATED SERIES – In Disney’s continuing efforts to buy up the world, they have struck a deal with no less than Guillermo Del Toro. The end result will be a series of films under the production company called Disney Double Dare You. The first of these projects is entitled “Trollhunters,” which is based on a story the horror master Del Toro has written himself. He will also produce the movie.
“As a director, I love to take audiences into fantastic new worlds and provide them with some anxious moments in the process,” Del Toro said at the convention. “It is part of the Disney canon to create thrilling, unforgettable moments and villains in all their classic films. It is my privilege for DDY to continue in this tradition. To partner up with The Walt Disney Studios, with the support of [Disney Chairman] Dick Cook and John Lasseter, is to belong to a storytelling partnership that I admire deeply. It is a true honor. I look forward to coming up with fresh and original stories that will take Disney films in a whole new direction. The emphasis is on fun, and we have some great ideas already on the storyboards.”
ZEMEKIS TO REDO BEATLES’ YELLOW SUBMARINE – It’s been 41 years since the Apple Corp. released the only Beatles animated feature film, “Yellow Submarine.” At D23, Disney announced it has struck a deal with the Beatles’ holding company to redo the film. It will be directed by Robert Zemekis and utilize his motion capture process.
“’Yellow Submarine’ is one of the greatest fantasy films of all time, and making this new 3D performance capture movie is a dream come true for me. With the latest advances in technology, we will be able to take moviegoers on a voyage unlike any other, and bring new excitement and dimension to Pepperland and the various sea worlds they encounter. I’m thrilled to be working with the good folks at Apple Corps and our partners at Disney on this epic retelling of one of my all time favorite films.”
It was also announced the film will use all 16 songs from the original movie, including “All Together Now,” “All You Need Is Love,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “With A Little Help From My Friends”
LONDON’S DICKENS THEATER TO PREMIER CHRISTMAS CAROL – Speaking of Zemekis, his latest film, the adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey, will make its world debut at London’s Dickens’ Theater on November 3.
The World Premiere of the fantasy adventure film will take place at London ’s Leicester Square , utilizing three cinemas to create the biggest-ever 3D premiere. Filmmakers and the stars from “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” will be on hand for the red-carpet celebration and subsequent film screening. The World Premiere is in support of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children; Dickens was a founding patron of the facility. As part of its continued efforts on behalf of the hospital, The Walt Disney Company will be making a donation.
“In the spirit of Charles Dickens himself, we’re bringing together three of London ’s richest holiday traditions in an unprecedented city-wide—or rather a worldwide—celebration,” said Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. “We’re expecting record-breaking attendance at the festivities, which will launch the holiday season, showcase our movie and celebrate the writer who, with the publication of ‘A Christmas Carol’ in 1843, virtually reinvented Christmas.”
Disney also announced (as reported by our own Blog@) that the fourth “Pirates of the Carribean” feature is subtitled “On Stranger Tides” and is slated for 2011.
NARUTO MOVING TO DISNEY XD
The new adventures of everyone’s favorite knucklehead ninja, Naruto, are going to air on Disney XD.
The show aired in the U.S. on Cartoon Network, where the network aired the first 220 episodes from 2002 to 2007. What any anime fan worth his wasabi knows though is a new series started in Japan that year, subtitled “Shippuden.” This is what Disney XD will now be airing.
Just to recap, the series is set three years in the future of the Naruto universe. The boy and his companions have grown accordingly. Naruto is still haunted by the desertion of his former team member Sasuske, but there are other battles to wage before he meets up with that character again.
“Disney XD is a growing destination for our key demographic, boys 6-14, and we're looking forward to bringing the adventures of NARUTO Shippuden to our lineup," says Tracy McAndrew, Director, Acquisitions and Co-Productions, Disney-ABC Cable Networks Group.”
“Naruto: Shippuden” will begin airing this October. A definite date has not been set as of press time.