Phineas and Ferb is a show designed for kids that has a very predictable, yet enjoyable plot structure. In the show, Phineas and Ferb make very good use of their 104 days of summer vacation. Because children respond to consistency, the format is formulaic to a certain degree. Generally, there is something that happens at the first of the episode that sparks an idea for the precocious Phineas who states, “I know what we are going to do today Ferb!” Ferb speaks very little in the show. The boys’ sister Candace is constantly trying to bust them by exposing their antics to their mom. So far on the show, they have built a roller coaster, life-sized remote control car, roller derby rink, ferris wheel, and the list goes on and on.
The second plot of the show has to do with the boys’ pet platypus, Perry. Perry lives a double life as a secret agent, Agent P. As an agent, he fights the evils of the inept Dr. Doofenschmirtz who is trying to take over the Tri-State Area. He runs Doofenschmirtz Evil Incorporated. As the CEO, he creates numerous “inators” that he uses to relieve himself of some annoyance or to exact revenge. Inventions created include the Shrink-inator, the Destruct-inator, Age-Accelorator-inator, etc. Most of the time his “inators” backfire and end up destroying whatever Phineas and Ferb have made for the day. This leaves Candace with no evidence of her brother’s antics.
Within this structure, the writers of the show make it enjoyable for adults by tipping their hat to pop culture throughout. One of my favorite scenes is actually a spoof of the 1998 film Run Lola Run. The writers know their audience. In 1998, I was 19. I am now 33 years old and I have a 5 year old. I would say anyone 30 to 40 years old who is or was hip to popular culture probably remembers this German film about a young woman, Lola, who has 20 minutes to deliver 100,000 Deutschmarks to her boyfriend before he robs a supermarket. At the same time, the reference is obscure to a degree. The first time I saw the scene I thought…”is that a reference to Run Lola Run…in a kid’s cartoon…on Disney…weird!”
There are also numerous nods to more well known movies such as Star Wars, Star Trek, The Wizard of OZ, Indiana Jones, and more. The show is really marketing to adults almost as much as it is to kids. Believe me, I have seen a lot of kids shows in the past 5 years. This is one of the good ones.
When I heard that Phineas and Ferb would be doing a crossover with Marvel back in July, I don’t think that I was as skeptical as some people. The writing for the show is very clever and they are taking their time to produce this movie. It is not being released until summer 2013. The first movie was Phineas and Ferb Across the 2nd Dimension was so well received that it is currently the 5th most watched cable movie ever. I do wonder how they will make this work in a larger context, but I guess we will have to wait and see. Apparently, it will include Spider-man and the Avengers. I have placed the preview video below. What are your thoughts?