tek's rating: ¾

Phineas and Ferb, on Disney Channel & Disney XD
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There are these two step-brothers, Phineas Flynn and Ferb Fletcher, who are trying to think of ways to spend each day of summer vacation to its fullest potential. So what they always end up doing are these ridiculously unlikely or impossible things; anything that just occurs to them on a whim, they can do without any difficulty. Each project only takes them a day, and then they're done with it. I mean the kind of things that other people would dream of making a career out of, it's just a way to pass the day for Phineas and Ferb. I should mention that Phineas seems to be the driving force behind the projects, and he does most of the talking. Ferb is mostly silent, but always seems to have at least one line, usually at the end of each episode, in which he shows himself to be both drily witty and quite knowledgeable.

Meanwhile, Phineas's sister Candace seems upset by all this. So every day, she tries to bust them by showing their mother what's going on, but by the time she drags her there, whatever was going on has, you know, ended, or whatever. Everything just disappears. So Mom just gets annoyed at Candace. But Candace has other stuff going on in her life, like a crush on a guy named Jeremy Johnson, and other typical teenage girl stuff, like spending time with her friend Stacy. Phineas and Ferb's projects often seem to interfere with whatever it is she wants to do, or just totally upstage her, which may be why she gets so upset about it. But it does kind of remind me of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Anyway, Phineas & Ferb seem kind of oblivious to her attempts to get them in trouble, and they do care about her.... I should also mention sometimes Jeremy's little sister Suzy tries to ruin Candace's attempts to spend time with Jeremy, though he seems oblivious to Suzy's evil ways.

The family also has a pet platypus named Perry, who is also a secret agent (Agent P), which none of them know about. It totally reminds me of "Monkey" from Dexter's Lab. Perry battles a mad scientist named Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, who always has some kind of ridiculous scheme afoot. He's pretty amusing, though, and may be my favorite character in the show. Perry, of course, doesn't talk, so in their scenes, it's just Doofenshmirtz talking. Agent P is always given his assignment via video screen by Monogram (and sometimes his geeky intern, Karl). Anyway, their conflicts always somehow end up having some kind of effect on whatever Phineas & Ferb are up to, and often seem to be responsible for evidence of their activities disappearing before Candace can show it to Mom.

There's also a girl named Isabella Garcia-Shapiro, who has a crush on Phineas, though he seems oblivious to that. She just often shows up to help out with whatever Phineas & Ferb are up to, and sometimes enlists the help of her scout troop, the Fireside Girls. A couple other friends who sometimes get involved in Phineas and Ferb's activities are a rather innocuous bully named Buford Van Stomm, and a smart but nervous kid named Baljeet Patel (who is afraid of Buford).

And there's a girl named Vanessa, who is Dr. Doofenshmirtz's daughter (she seems a bit goth to me, but I'm not sure). He wants her to be his assistant, but she isn't interested. In fact she tries to prove to her mom (her parents are divorced) that her dad is evil. It's funny, because it totally parallels Candace trying to prove to her mom that her brothers are up to stuff. I should also say that nearly every episode has a musical number, which is sometimes repeated over the end credits; other times there's a bonus scene over the credits, instead.

And that's pretty much the whole plot. Generally episodes are 15 minutes long (two stories in a half hour, though sometimes there may be a story which takes a half hour by itself, maybe even longer), but a lot gets packed in there. Anyway, it's all terribly funny and kind of unpredictable... like it sets you up to expect something to happen, but then it happens in a completely different way than you expected. Sometimes. Other times it's totally predictable, but still amusing. And there are like a million different running gags that somehow, ingeniously, always stay fresh (largely because the gags get changed a bit, can be sort of self-referential or something, can be twisted or reversed... ah, it's complicated, but hilarious). Well, that's all I can think to say for now, but it's a pretty cool show, just incredibly funny and brilliant and crazy and full of surprises along with all the familiar stuff and the simple formula....

There have been a number of specials, and a TV movie called Across the 2nd Dimension, and a web movie called "Candace Against the Universe", and a spin-off talk show called Take Two with Phineas and Ferb.

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