bentangle

That’s It! I Know What We’re Going to Do Today!

by on Dec.10, 2008, under parenthood, TV

I must proselytize about a certain kids’ show – Phineas & Ferb.  As a parent of a pre-schooler and a toddler and as an owner of a television (and avid enthusiast), I find myself spending a decent amount of time watching shows with my children.  Of course I try to limit the quantity and so we aim for quality of entertainment in what we watch.  As a conscientious parent, I have to be aware of what they watch – I wouldn’t want my kids getting the wrong ideas or messages from television (like that sponges are really dish sponge-shaped and live in pineapples).  The downside of this process is the mind-numbing effect that some of these shows have on adults (I won’t name names, but one such show rhymes with Bora the Bexplorer).  So when a show comes along that is entertaining for all ages without crossing any questionable lines, it is like panning for gold and finding a full bar.

Phineas & Ferb is such a show.  This show is about two step-brothers on summer vacation who do their best to make every day an adventure.  Such adventures include building a roller coaster, fixing an incomplete time machine, and chiseling their sister’s face into Mount Rushmore.  They are both very positive and creative characters and their are countered by their older sister, Candace, who is constantly trying to get them busted in the act by their mother.  Each episode also includes an interesting side plot involving the brothers’ pet platypus named Perry who happens to be a secret agent (this side plot is almost always initiated with Phineas stating “Hey, where’s Perry?” and closed with him saying “There you are Perry.” later in the episode).  Perry’s nemesis is an evil scientist named Dr. Doofenshmirtz who is constantly building ridiculous inventions (e.g., the Age Accelerator-inator) which he plans to use to rectify minor, personal annoyances.  Inevitably his plots are snuffed by Perry’s use of martial arts and spy gadgets of his own (and a decent amount of ingenuity) and often this sequence of events conveniently leads to whatever Phineas & Ferb had been working on being cleaned up just before Candace can get their mother to see what they are doing.

There are several elements that make this a fun show for everyone.  On the surface, it is a light-hearted show with clever jokes that can be appreciated on many levels.  Deeper down, there are positive messages within the show – messages of family unity even in an unconventional family (the similarly-aged brothers are of different mothers, yet are very close to each other and the rest of their family), and messages of confidence and camaraderie.  Some of the friends of Phineas and Ferb are a self-confident girl named Isabella (who has a secret crush on Phineas), a bully named Buford (who despite his bully status, is typically good-natured toward everyone) and a timid Hindu boy named Baljeet (often the brunt of Buford’s bullying, though when not being bullied the 2 seem to be close friends).  The relationships between these friends show a good example to kids of healthy social behaviors and much of their actions encourage friendliness and sharing and discourage exclusion and inequality.

I will admit, that I liked this show before my daughter committed to it, but now she loves it and will watch some episodes of it over and over again.  My kids with also pretend to be characters from the show (often if they include me, I have to be Dr. Doofenshmirtz – which is fun because he has some amusing catch-phrases).  I’ve managed to get a number of colleagues wth kids hooked on the show as well and I encourage anyone out there with kids to watch.  Hell – even without kids it is a fun show.  Don’t resist it – you know you want to be converted too.

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4 Comments for this entry

  • Swampy

    Glad you like the show! Loved your review.

  • SilentBen

    Thanks! I look forward to more new episodes, Major.

  • Dan

    I concur with Swampy, as usual. You know, we made a decision about the positive nature of the characters early on that a lot of our writers had a hard time with it at first (they had all written on a dozen other shows where most of the humor was based on mean-ness and that is often the easier way to get laughs). It makes us feel so good when we hear reviews like this that let us know that it really does come through and that parents appreciate it.

  • SilentBen

    You guys are definitely doing great work and I hope that Disney also recognizes that and keeps it going. It really is something when you can put together a show as positive as this (even Dr. Doofenshmirtz is a likable guy) and keep it funny and enjoyable for all ages. And while I am promoting it here, it is really contagious on its own – I found out about it from a co-worker and fellow parent and in turn I’ve gotten several other friends and parents hooked on it as well.

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