Carpe Diem-ing With Phineas and Ferb!

Phineas: I know what we’re gonna do today,
Though it might sound just a bit cliché.
We can build a rollercoaster, but this time with songs and dancing!
‘Cause when we’re back in school come next September,
And they ask us, we can both remember
Every cool and clever thing we did all summer long, and glancing
Back we’re gonna be so glad that we
Didn’t sit all day and watch TV,
I don’t think anyone can disagree
The world is possibilities
And that’s what makes me say:
Phineas and Chorus: Hey Ferb!

Phineas: Hey Ferb, I know what we’re gonna do today
Hey Ferb, I know what we’re gonna do today
Hey Ferb, I know what we’re gonna do today!…

Phineas and Chorus: Hey Ferb!
Background singers: Boredom is something up with which I will not put

Phineas: Hey Ferb, I know what we’re gonna do today
Hey Ferb, I know what we’re gonna do today
Hey Ferb, I know what we’re gonna do today!…
Phineas and Chorus: Hey Ferb!

~ Hey Ferb performed by Phineas Flynn (Vincent Martella) in the special Rollercoaster: The Musical

HAPPY SUMMER folks, or as one of TV’s now most beloved icons Phineas and his half-stepbrother Ferb might say, “Today’s gonna be the best day ever!” in the catchy voice of 20-year-old actor Vincent Martella himself! Coincidentally, he is only two months and ten days older than me. 🙂



Witty and whimsical catchphrases aside though, if any of you beloved readers are as old as I am—or possibly even older—and can fondly recall a time when TV networks premiered shows like Spongebob Squarepants, Rugrats, the Fairly Oddparents, Danny Phantom, and Kim Possible—just to name a few—I am sad to announce that most of those late ’90s through early 2000s shows have long been off the air, with the exception of Spongebob and the Fairly Oddparents. Even Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Suite Life on Deck, previously shown on the Nickelodeon and Disney Channel networks respectively not too long ago are now also history.

A momentary sad ending for the ’90s kids, I know, but fear not!

We have cartoon animators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh to thank for going forward with the concept of Phineas and Ferb for over 16 years until Disney Channel finally has helped to spring the cartoon into a worldwide sensation.[1]

And before I even get into my long and windy critique of the show itself, I believe it is best to pay tribute to Povenmire and Marsh’s duo efforts for persevering with an idea like this for so long, don’t you think?

DP: I was at the Wild Thyme restaurant in South Pasadena. They have butcher paper over the tables and crayons for you to draw with, and I drew a triangle-headed kid. I tore that piece off and told my wife, “This is the show I’m going to sell.” I called Swampy that night and said, “Okay, I’ve got Phineas.” That drawing is framed in my office, complete with coffee stains.

 JM: All the other characters grew out of that.

~ An interview excerpt from From Swampy & Dan Emerges Phineas and Ferb (2008)[2]

Who knew that one drawing of the now ever famous triangle-shape headed kid would become a role model for fans everywhere, EVEN IF HE IS A CARICATURE?

DBB8390F-A85B-4E5A-B669-86E657156BA9


PnF___Phineas_Flynn_by_sam_ely_ember

PnF – Phineas Flynn by sam-ely-ember © deviantART.com


I cannot even begin to imagine what Dan and Swampy had in mind after all these years trying to pitch Phineas Flynn to every major TV station, only to be turned down time after time after time again.

“We were sort of thrown together in a room as a writing team on ‘Rocko’s Modern Life,’” said Povenmire.  Adds Marsh, “I think the actual reason for it was I tend to story board things very loose and dirty, and Dan tends to be clean and tight, so they thought, if they put us together there would be a happy medium somewhere.  There wasn’t, but we liked working together.”

Marsh and Povenmire developed a concept following two young boys: Phineas (based on Phineas T. Fogg from “Around the World in 80 Days”) and Ferb (based on a set builder friend who “owns more tools than anyone we know”) so they could have an outlet where they could continue working together.

Their friendship endured but their professional collaboration went on hiatus during the 16 years that passed before “Phineas and Ferb” was optioned.

“Swampy actually moved to England for six years and I still had our little pitch packet that every once and a while I’d dust off and show,” said Povenmire.  “Disney, who said no to us the first time, called out of the blue wanting to option ‘Phineas and Ferb.’  I called up Swampy in England and I said ‘If we get to do this show, are you going to come back and work with me?’ and he said ‘Yes, absolutely.  That’s the sound of me packing.'”

Aside from a few color changes and simplifications, “Phineas and Ferb” remained true to the original pitch.  Marsh and Povenmire based the show’s concept on the freedom, creativity and sense of exploration they experienced in their youth.

“We grew up in a time when there was minimal TV and no video games,” said Marsh.  “We spent all our time doing projects: building, constructing, finding and modifying things.”  Added Povenmire, ” We wanted to do a show that celebrated a kid’s imagination, ‘Phineas and Ferb’ are uninhibited by the reality of not being able to do whatever they imagine.”

 ~ An interview excerpt from Phineas and Ferb: Music, Mischief, And The Endless Summer Vacation (2009)[3]

But through their IMAGINATION (yes, ironically, a Spongebob reference) and dedication, this dynamic duo has still been able to pull off their dreams, and thus, Phineas and Ferb are currently two of the world’s most sought-after and envied brothers in all of modern animation history, in this critic’s most honest opinion.


So why are Phineas and Ferb so awesome to watch and to get inspiration from? I thought you’d never ask.

First off, we have a modern example of the American blended family:

In regards to exploring a step brother relationship, Povenmire said, “Swampy grew up with a big blended family.  Outside of the ‘Brady Bunch,’ he never really saw a family like his represented on TV.  If you’re a child from that kind of a family and you never see it portrayed in the media, it makes you feel a bit like an outsider.  So we wanted to put that aspect in our show.”[4]

Not many sitcoms, television dramas, and soap operas can lay a claim to fame today outside of the Brady Bunch—and perhaps Full House and Family Matters—with the prominent inclusion of a blended family, but there’s another reason why P&F is now successfully reviving a once disillusioned and stereotypically withdrawn and cynical demographic.

Simply put in the most cliché terms possible, it’s got something for everyone.

“The truth is, we make this cartoon for ourselves,” said Marsh.  “We don’t make it for children; we just don’t exclude them, which is something that John Lassister once said.  When you get to writing the jokes and finalizing the content, you just want to make sure you don’t do anything that’s going to make you cringe as a parent or that’s going to alienate the younger viewers.”[5]

Over the last five years since starting out as a freshman in high school, I’ve noticed the creators’, animators’, and producers’ attempts to allude to famous dramatic and literary references both past and present in almost every episode I have watched to this very day.

A well-known example being the song Phineas sings in the opening to Rollercoaster: The Musical, as shown:

(See if you can spot all the allusions!) 😀


Example number two would probably be a song dedicated to Isabella Garcia-Shapiro’s—Phineas and Ferb’s adjacent next door neighbor and long-time secret lover of Phineas—Mexican Jewish roots, cleverly titled Oy Vey!:


And speaking of Isabella’s Jewishness (and the Flynn-Fletcher’s supposed opposing Christian faith), I just love their Christmas Vacation alternate theme song!




In the Summer Belongs to You special, they’ve even included a number for Baljeet and his family. But why no Chinese references, besides brief scenes featured in that said episode and in Aglet? (Sorry, just a bit irritable us Chinese don’t get enough worthy mention to have a song dedicated for us.) 😛



Overall, Phineas and Ferb is one of the best shows I can absolutely trust my future kids and I to grow up watching and reminiscing over and over and over again.

PROS: In an ever-increasing societal awareness to recognize cultural and religious diversity, the show’s creators and producers possess a keen sense of balance of trying to be as inclusive as possible, although they may always have some empty patches left to mend. Then again, I don’t completely blame Swampy and Dan for not giving it a go and seeing what happens. Cause that right there friends, lies the key to INNOVATION! 😀

Secondly, the ongoing love-hate relationship between Dr. D and Perry the Platypus is always humorously amusing to experience when you’re taking a breezer and need something to re-divert your attention to.

*Quick side-note before you hit that play button down below: I’ve been conjuring up a similar concept of this fight scene since like 3rd grade—the parts when Doof and Perry kick each other with their webbed feet and when Doof unsuccessfully makes an attempt at lunging at Perry—but I’m glad somebody else indirectly thinks like me.


CONS: I wish Isabella would have kissed Phineas sooner in the series—and then to have his memory wiped by Carl in the 2nd Dimension movie—gosh, that tanks!

I wish Jeremy would just go out with Candace already…or that they date when they’re both of college age…

Can Perry and Doof—and for the record, Major Monogram and the OWCA intern Carl—ever get along?

Will Buford ever soften up? And not just to Baljeet, but to everyone else he frequently interacts with?

Will Candace ever mature to a point where she will stop busting her brothers? (In the current time, not 20 years in the future?)

These are only a few of the questions that have run through this crazy head of mine as the series endlessly continues to progress…

All idiosyncrasies aside, however, I love P&F! And even more so now because they incorporate the Latin phrase carpe diem, or “seize the day” into their overall theme, alerting viewers that every day is a gift and should be seized to its fullest opportunity, and a reminder to help make the world a better place to be in.

Well done Phineas and Ferb. Well done.

You have my utmost respects. 🙂


ditch_the_step_part_____by_kicsterash-d35tccj

Ditch the Step part…. by KicsterAsh © deviantART.com

Oh, and one more thing: I’ve come to realize the two split halves of my personality are very much aligned with Phineas and Ferb. According to Myers-Briggs typology, I’m an ENFP.

I’m naturally extraverted, optimistic and looking outward at all the possibilities that life has to offer—and at times, I can come across as naive and always the guy with his head in the clouds, much like young Phineas. My introverted self though is much like Ferb—quiet, calm, calculating and caring.

Each person on this planet needs both their Phineas and Ferb halves to be fully human, and that is my most inner belief. 🙂

One thought on “Carpe Diem-ing With Phineas and Ferb!

  1. “There are 104 days of summer vacation,
    and school comes along just to end it.
    So the annual problem for our generation
    is finding a good way to spend it…”

    Oh gosh, good times. Unfortunately, nowadays we have reality TV and whatnot… ugh… Anyway, P&F will always be an awesome show.

    Like

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