Journsplit: Phineas and Ferb

In one of two episodes in our CCA-wide Nostalgia newsletter, we discuss beloved childhood show Phineas and Ferb. Songs, side characters and speculation all included!

Rei: Hi and welcome back to a very special episode and our first of this year!! This episode, along with another one on Ratatouille, is part of our club-wide Journalism newsletter Nostalgia. 

Lokesh: And what show better fits that theme than Phineas and Ferb? This show was practically a constant for me as a kid.

Rei: It’s difficult for us to summarise an entire series with 222 segments, 2 movies and many more shorts, but we trust you won’t need us to!

Lokesh: Just to jog your memory anyway, Phineas and Ferb is a musical-comedy series about two boys and their adventures during summer vacation, as their iconic title sequence tells us

Rei: There’s a 104 days of summer vacation, then school comes along just to end it… 

Lokesh: Speaking of songs, are there any songs that stood out to you on the first listen? I vividly remember “Welcome to Tokyo”! When Phineas and Ferb go to Tokyo to visit their friend Stacy, they are warmly welcomed by an upbeat number with an addictive dance.

Rei: Oh yeah! It looks abit like the Ting Ting Tang Tang dance! How could they have guessed that that very choreo would be all over my TikTok for-you page now! 

Lokesh: Phineas and Ferb was just before its time, I guess. Speaking of iconic songs, we can’t forget ‘Ain’t Got Rhythm’! As a kid, I thought that song was the peak of music. Oh! And S.I.M.P., or Squirrels In My Pants! And Gitchee Gitchee Goo! This series had hundreds of songs, and all of them were bops that contributed to this series being as memorable as it was.

Rei: Another thing that made this series so iconic, in my opinion, was the clever and inventive use of tropes, both tropes known in popular media and ones unique to the show.

Lokesh: Yea, like Candace always trying to bust the boys. It’s a staple of the show and the audience can always expect the boys to come up with an amazing invention, only for it to be mysteriously taken down right before Candace can show it to their mom. And so is Phineas’ famous line “Ferb, I know what we’re gonna do today!”

Rei: Yeah, and the concept of the boys being “too young” to do stuff. But the show never fails to keep the plot fresh, with twists and turns everywhere. Like when Phineas and Ferb actually get busted in Season 1 Episode 16 (and the boys have to spend the rest of summer vacation in a military school)

Lokesh: definitely! There was so much happening every episode, but they still kept things interesting with special episodes like the chronicles of meap, a ‘wizard of oz’-esque episode, a crossover with marvel, even an episode set in caveman times!

Rei: Also, do you remember the time when Perry the platypus doesn’t defeat Doof in Season 2 Episode 12? While we’re on that, don’t you think that rather than being the signature villain and hero, Perry and Doof have more of a love-hate relationship?

Lokesh: That’s true! Doof almost seems lonely without Perry. He once even chased Perry down and begged to be defeated when Perry felt that his scheme was not worth the effort to foil. I think this fresh take made me like Doof as a child, rather than hating him for being the villain.

Rei: Phineas and Ferb owes at least part of its huge success to its interesting cast of characters, all with their own unique and strong personalities

Lokesh: Yeah, think about all the quirky characters. Their friends Isabella, Baljeet, Buford, their obsessive sister Candace and their mom. 

Rei: And these characters were not just one-dimensional cliches, every single one of them had their characters expanded on over the course of the series. We’ve already talked about Doof, but the series treated every character with love, from Isabella’s epic love arc to several episodes dedicated to exploring Baljeet and Buford’s complicated friend-yet-foe relationship, even as a seemingly stereotypical pair of nerd and bully.

Lokesh: Speaking of Isabella, she wasn’t reduced to just Phineas’ love interest. Although at first she appears to just be some girl with an obvious crush on Phineas, she had several episodes later on that showed more of her thoughts and story. Her bond with the Fireside Girls and her role as their leader was touched on several times throughout the show. I can even remember the series spending time fleshing out minor characters like Candace’s love interest Jeremy! 

Rei: And have you ever wondered why Ferb is so quiet? Phineas and Ferb are like polar opposites! I’ve heard that there were some fan theories that Ferb is on the autism spectrum.

Lokesh: Mmm yeah could be. I know that some psychologists who studied this support this theory. But personally, I think the main reason for this choice was because executive producer Jeff Marsh intended for the dynamic between Phineas and Ferb to pay homage to Wallace and Gromit—A talkative main character and his silent sidekick.

Rei: Oh yeah, that parallel is cool. But Ferb is not as shallow as one might think. In several episodes he has shown his quick thinking skills, and the ability to remain calm when in stressful situations. And let’s not forget his knack for inventing almost anything under the sun, like Phineas.

Lokesh: Yup. And there are so many questions and conspiracy theories that keep the audience thinking after watching the show! Like why would Phineas and Ferb want a platypus as a pet? And could Doof have dated Phineas and Ferb’s mom before she met their dad?

Rei: Yea, talking about all this brings back good memories! You can definitely see why kids would love this show!

Lokesh: I mean, I *still* love it – here’s a fun fact: The ‘104 days of summer vacation’ referenced in the Phineas and Ferb cartoon song was used because co-creator Dan Povenmire only expected the show to last 52 episodes, like most Disney Channel shows lasted at the time, and there were two segments per episode, making it 104.

Rei: And that’s all we have for you today! Thank you for joining us on this little trip down memory lane where we revisited one of our beloved childhood shows! If you’d like to see more episodes like this or ones where we do a deeper dive, you can check out our website and/or vote for shows or books we haven’t covered yet in our survey!

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