When I first heard the idea for Phineas and Ferb, I thought it was going to be yet another bad show on Disney Channel (because let’s face it, the only good shows they had last decade were in the first half thereof, e.g. That’s So Raven, Even Stevens, Kim Possible) and another failure for an already drab cartoon department at ABC/Disney (who hasn’t had a truly good cartoon since Recess and the fantastic middle-school crime show Fillmore!). Kids having fun over summer vacation – haven’t we heard that before?
However, when I first saw the show, I greatly underestimated it for two reasons: first, the writing is fantastic. It’s filled with cultural jokes that will go entirely over kids’ heads, and the incredibly elaborate plans of the two kids are imaginative and funny (makes me wish I spent my time over the summer building rollercoasters and going into space instead of sleeping). Second, though, is the Spy vs. Spy-esque battle between Perry the Platypus and Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz.
Doofenshmirtz is the classic bumbling mad scientist (with a hell of a lot of real estate), with dozens of inventions (virtually all ending in “-inator”), virtually all with a well-labeled off switch or self-destruct button (or is a plug-in device needing a ridiculous amount of wattage). Each episode, you know that Doofenshmirtz is going to get caught by Perry the Platypus and have his plan foiled, but it’s great to see how it happens, see the plan unravel. Further, he is given incredibly funny lines (“As they say in Mexico, ‘Dos Vedanya!’ Down there, that’s two Vedanyas!”) However, Doofenshmirtz goes beyond the bumbling and science-ing – he actually has a well-developed past:
Doofenshmirtz also plays the role of ‘awkward father’ to his teenage daughter Vanessa – and as a teenager, I can relate – and the role of ex-husband to Charlene (“he’s not evil. We just wanted different things.”). However, his best role is as a dude with a rough childhood and a failed marriage who has turned to wreaking havoc. Because, as Doofenshmirtz says himself, “When it comes to havoc, nobody wreaks like me!”
Join me for next week’s installment of the Saturday Night Stuff I Like, when I discuss Wilco.