This month’s Tablet magazine column (I’m only writing once a month until this book I’m ghosting is done) is about my beloved Phineas & Ferb, the best cartoon on TV. It’s better than almost anything on TV, period.
The above video is one of my faves. The hipster teens THINK the platypus is a METAPHOR for anything keeping us down (“Society’s a platypus! My parents are a platypus! The media’s a platypus! We’ve all got a platypus controlling us!”), but Doofenshmirtz is speaking LITERALLY. (His almost inaudible response to the chanting chorus: “No, just me.”)
Maybe this clip is too inside-baseball and you have to be a fan of the show already to see the awesome. You tell me.
Anyway, here are some SUPER-INSIDER snippets that didn’t make the final story:
1. Baljeet was added because the creators knew the show would be airing in a bunch of different countries that don’t have the concept of leisure time or summer vacation to the same degree America does, and, said Povenmire, “we wanted a character who could speak to that — learning to relax.”
2. Povenmire: “We were so happy when we found Vincent [Martella, who plays Phineas] because it was hard to find the voice for Phineas. People were either too cool for the bundle of chutzpah that is Phineas, or too nerdy. As soon as we heard Vincent’s voice there was a big sigh of relief. There are lines we can do because we know it’ll sound good when Vincent reads it — it won’t sound sarcastic. He can do really wonderful flat reads. Like, there are lines that could sound like a put-down of Candace, but Vincent won’t make it sound that way. He won’t sound too precocious or smarmy.”
3. While cracking up at a pitch-perfect parody of “A Whole New World” in Aladdin called “Arial Area Rug,” — the quintessence of the soaring cheesetastic Disney soprano-tenor duet, I Googled and saw that it was co-written by Robert Lopez of Avenue Q and Book of Mormon. (He tweeted that writing the song took two hours, which is about an hour more than Povenmire and Marsh usually take.)
4. Povenmire, answering my question about whether Candace is a problematic character: “We do spend a lot of time discussing it — I think we can do better and be more surprising. Because I have girls, we’ve been very adamant about not showing girls just as rivals for boys’ attention. We were constantly pitched stories in which there’d be a rival girl for Jeremy’s affection and Candace would get super-jealous and start treating her as an enemy. And she would always be pitched as a bitchy girl. I would say “No! Just because she’s interested in the same guy doesn’t make her the bad girl. And it happens so much in entertainment. I think that’s the only way 35-year-old men can write girl parts. So that’s my rule: If there’s another girl who is interested in Jeremy, Candace may get crazy, but she doesn’t blame the other girl.” [My reaction: As I said in the piece, I think Isabella Garcia-Shapiro is a more nuanced character than Candace, and while it would be cool if Candace cared about things besides Jeremy and busting her brothers, there’s enough other stuff I love in the show that I can deal. And Candace IS still pretty dang funny.]
5. The show’s huge in the Holy Land. Here are some dubbed videos the Disney Channel Israel has put up:
Ach Katan Sheli [Little Brother — I suppose the reason this is singular and the English version is plural is Achim K’tanim Sheli doesn’t scan]
Snaim B’Michnas! [Squirrels in My Pants]
Nitpasta! [You’re Busted — I did not know this word.]
L’Ima Yom Huledet [Mom, It’s Your Birthday]
And your best choice for young American Hebrew-learners, because the Hebrew is so basic even I understand it: Kitchee Kitchee Ka [Gitchee Gitchee Goo]