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An interview with the creators of 'Phineas and Ferb'

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"Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation"The boys work on turning the city of Danville into an enormous thank you card for Santa Claus
Monday at 12:20 p.m.
Repeating Tuesday at 6:15 p.m., Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. Thursday at 8:45 p.m.

Bow, chicka, bow-wow
That's what my baby says
Mow, mow, mow
And my heart starts pumpin'
Chicka, chicka, chew-op
Never gonna stop
Gitchi-gitchi-goo means that I love you

That was the song that grabbed the interest of Disney executives, 16 years after its creators started shopping around the cartoon "Phineas and Ferb." In the episode, the stepbrothers write a meaningless pop tune, hit the top of the charts, hear the song translated into Muzak, break up, get back together for a reunion performance, and then break up again forever. All in 11 minutes. With two more subplots going on.

"Everyone liked it, but seemed to worry that it was too complicated for kids to follow," says Jeff "Swampy Marsh," who worked on it with Dan Povenmire, a fellow layout artist on "The Simpsons."

But Disney got it, and wanted to complicate things more.

"One of the execs said, 'I love that song! Can you write one for every episode?'"

So far, so good.

In two seasons of the show, they've written songs including, but not limited to, "Quirky Worky Song," "The Black Knight of Worcestershire," "Truck Drivin' Girl" and the beloved "Squirrels in my Pants."

The ratings are robust, and in October, the CD album was the No. 1 kids' album in the country - and in the Top 10 for all soundtracks.

During each episode, Phineas and Ferb dream up grandiose ways to spend their summer vacation, while sister Candace tries to rat them out to her parents. Their pet platypus, Perry, doubles as a secret agent at war with Heinz Doofenshmirtz, whose voicemail chirps cheerily, "Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated!"

Many feel that the dashing Perry is the best part of the show. "My wife says he's hot," admits Marsh.

There's nothing mean-spirited about the cartoon. Even Doofenschmirtz, they explain, is misunderstood and looking for attention.

They didn't even really set out to make a show for kids. "We made the show basically first to make each other laugh," says Marsh. "Then we'd go back and make sure there aren't any inappropriate jokes."

Disney kept an eye out for that, too. During a monster truck race, there's a multi-vehicle pileup, and then all the drivers stick their heads out the windows and shout, "We're OK!" "You can have anything happen, as long as everyone's OK at the end," laughs Povenmire.

"We're not doing that thing that I see so often, which is, what do you think kids will find funny?" says Marsh. "We don't underestimate the audience."

"Some of the kids watching the show may not understand a joke," says Povenmire. "We don't care. As long as they don't change the channel."

"The worst thing that could happen is that the kid might turn around and wonder why mom and dad was laughing," says Marsh.

Among the adults they count as fans: Bob Eubanks, Anthony LaPaglia, Ben Stiller and Chaka Khan. "Rob Morrow sang the theme song on the 'Craig Ferguson Show,'" offers Povenmire.

There's plenty of talent behind the animation. Disney's Ashley Tisdale ("High School Musical") and Mitchel Musso ("Hannah Montana") voice two characters, while Richard O'Brien, who created "The Rocky Horror Music Show," voices Dad.

As Marsh and Povenmire put together season three, they promise that Candace and her neighbor Jeremy will finally become boyfriend and girlfriend. And they're getting more ambitious, too. They're going to revisit their popular roller coaster episode, -- but as a full-on musical. "The boys just say, 'Let's build a roller coaster again, this time as a musical," says Marsh. "Ferb asks, 'What assurance do we have that everyone else will burst into song?'"

Povenmire and Marsh are hoping for the best, and just recently received the highest Disney compliment possible: There are now Phineas and Ferb walkarounds at Disney World. "You know, the guys in the suits," explains Povenmire. "The actual suited character. That's a big milestone. That makes us happy."

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6 Comments

I hope they dont stop at three seasons. That would be a complete tragedy. They really cant! Sighhhh

I love this show soooo much i even made a website dedicated to the show its called phineasandferbfansite.yolasite.com i am also proud to call myself a fan.

In season 3 Candace and Jeremy will become boyfriend and girlfriend, but what about Isabella and Phineas?

I LOOOOOOOOOVE P&F!!!!! It has topped my 2nd fave TV show, SpongeBob SquarePants :]

The creators have said that parents have thanked them for making a show they want to watch with their kids, rather than being forced to and end up feeling like they are losing brain cells in the process. This show rewards its audience for paying attention. Wonderful songs, great stories and many scenes that leave me laughing, all leading to a show that I'm proud to call my favorite.

Phineas and Ferb is a hilarious cartoon. It's one of few contemporary, creator-driven animation projects where the executive producers put equal emphasis on all levels of humor, intelligence, and engagement in their writing.

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This page contains a single entry by Paige Wiser published on December 21, 2009 4:56 AM.

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