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Disney’s Phineas and Ferb may not have the power to unseat SpongeBob Squarepants as top cartoon, but the series and its title characters take the second spot to the porous perennial favorite. And while they might fall behind the lovable sponge from under the sea, Phineas and Ferb should hardly be seen as taking a backseat to anyone…

 

phineas and ferb

Phineas and Ferbmight be a relative new kid on the cartoon block, but its sensibilities stem from old school cartoons. But each cartoon convention gets a fresh twist in this show starring two boys whose faces defy a circular shape. First, it’s always summer vacation for Phineas and Ferb.Today’s elementary schoolers might be more likely to move from the school year to another structured setting (camps of all kinds, enrichment programs, etc.) but Phineas and Ferb fuel the fantasy of a summer day with nothing to do. They take the classic Rube Goldbergdevices found in cartoons like Tom and Jerry and give them a playful purpose. Each plan comes from their own hands, and the intention is authentic entertainment, taken to the extreme – from a miniature golf course and an oversized roller coaster on their lawn to a backyard beach (complete with island music and an impromptu surf competition). Phineas and Ferb includes genuine good guys and bad guys, battling in each episode. But the evil Doctor Doofenshmirtz’s devices seem more likely to turn up on an infomercial than to truly help him take over the world! All the better for the young viewers who revel in seeing Doofenshmirtz’s silly plots get foiled by the unlikeliest of heroes, Phineas and Ferb’s pet platypus, Perry. (The popular platypus served as the front man for the app “Where’s My Perry?” a version of the popular app, “Where’s My Water?”Phineas and Ferb include sibling rivalries, with big sister Candace constantly trying to catch her scheming little brothers in the act. But unexpectedly, the two step-brothers who star in this show seek to include Candace (along with the other members of their eclectic gang). Phineas and Ferb works because kids route for them, but not because they’re bad – because they’re just so good. And as an added bonus for mom and dad, Phineas and Ferb exemplify the kind of creative, constructive play that gets mom and dad’s approval.

The show follows a formula that delivers on the “I knew it was going to happen” that kids love, like when someone asks the boys if they aren’t too young to be a rollercoaster engineer, for example. Each episode includes a song and dance that allows for a silly segue to the next scene. But the predictable plotlines include enough imagination to make each episode feel like an adventure. At the end of each simulated summer vacation day, it’s the boys’ preposterous planning and casual cool that make this cartoon a modern makeover of the classic toons of the past.