Phineas and Ferb is one of the best cartoons ever. Well, I think it is, anyway. But all the great brother-and-sisterness certainly weighs heavily in my opinion, so I am anything but an impartial judge. (If anyone would care to challenge me on that, and by that I mean duel, and by duel I of course mean thumb-wrestle as any good Phineas and Ferb fan would know, then I’ll be waiting outside the mall.) All the same, I would recommend Phineas and Ferb to just about anybody with the ability to suspend their disbelief and enjoy a television show with simple animation where Status Quo is God.
You can watch Phineas and Ferb on the Disney Channel, the happiest channel on earth. The episodes air first on Disney XD, which to my understanding is an offshoot geared towards older kids in the 8 to tween range. But all of the episodes do eventually air on the regular Disney Channel, so I’m not sure there’s much to be said about the distinction.
Why is Phineas and Ferb so great? Well, it’s pretty smart. Much of the plot of each episode relies on certain tropes that recur in every episode. But they are constantly being played with. A lot of the characters have catchphrases, and again, they are constantly being played with. It makes fun of itself, and it makes fun of other things, but often in a very clever way. You know, for a children’s show.
First, the set-up:
It’s very simple. The series revolves (you may have guessed, if you did then you get a cookie!) around Phineas and Ferb, who are stepbrothers. Phineas Flynn’s age is never disclosed, but he’s definitely thirteen or younger, and almost definitely ten or older. That’s all I’ve got. It’s better for me that he’s older, so I’m sticking with thirteen unless I’m told otherwise. Phineas (we can thank the very talented Vincent Martella for his voice) is the main character. He is extremely smart, and extremely good at building things. He’s also the type of guy who is universally liked. He’s normally pretty sensitive to the moods of those around him, but he can be a little oblivious sometimes as well. He talks like someone three times his age, but he shows no interest in the same things an adult would (that is to say, money and dating).
He lives with his sister, Candace Flynn (voiced by the lovely Ashley Tisdale). She is either fifteen or sixteen. Her age might have changed; it’s not clear.
In fact, if you want to nitpick about continuity, I think she might even be as old as seventeen. Candace is extremely neurotic, and has two obsessions: getting her brothers into trouble for their schemes, and Jeremy (if you watch Hannah Montana then you might recognize Jeremy’s voice as that of Mitchel Musso, aka Oliver), who is kind-of her boyfriend.
Jeremy has a little sister, Suzie (who shares a voice actor with Razor of Aliens in the Attic), who is extremely possessive of him and whose evil self is known only to a select few. I won’t really be talking about Jeremy and Suzie’s relationship very much but she can be kinda possessive. It would be interesting if she weren’t barely older than a toddler.
Phineas and Candace’s mother, Linda, married Ferb’s father Lawrence (he and Ferb are British) when Phineas was at a toddler-ish age. Linda was a one-hit wonder pop star known as Lindana, but now she and Mr. Fletcher deal antiques. Caroline Rhea does the voice work for Linda, best known as the laid back aunt of Sabrina on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Ferb Fletcher is taller than Phineas and has been since they first met, but it’s not clear whether he’s older than Phineas or not. Ferb is good at building like Phineas, though he’s usually more involved with blue prints, and is also an excellent dancer. His primary characteristic is the fact that he hardly ever speaks. In fact, he usually has only one line per episode (and it’s almost always hilarious, often solely due to the fact that he’s got an English accent and hardly ever speaks). Phineas is the mouthpiece of the inseparable pair.
Ironically, the actor who voices Ferb is much more famous than Vincent Martella. His name is Thomas Sangster. You’ve probably seen Love Actually, and if not then you should. You’ll know him (when he was much younger) as Liam Neeson’s stepson, the boy with the crush on the American girl at his school who sings (and oh boy can she). Remember her! And the actress from that role also does a voice on Phineas and Ferb – that of Vanessa, the daughter of the antagonist, Dr. Doofenschmirtz.
Phineas and Ferb have an array of friends from their neighborhood. There’s Isabella, who has a deep crush on the totally clueless Phineas. Alyson Stoner does the voice of Isabella with sickeningly sweet perfection. I know her only from Alice Upside Down, another fantastically underrated movie. It’ll probably get a post later, so keep your eyes open.
Isabella’s catchphrase is “Whatcha doin’?”, and don’t use it, because it’s hers and she won’t like it! Isabella is a Fireside Girl (much like Girl Scouts or whatnot) and is constantly trying to get new patches for her sash.
Phineas and Ferb have two other main friends: Buford, a bully, and Baljeet, his victim.
Each Phineas and Ferb episode usually has three plots. The A plot is Phineas coming up with an idea of something cool to build or do (a roller coaster, a restaurant, fashion design), and him and Ferb and often his friends building or doing it. The B plot follows Candace often mooning over Jeremy but always trying to bust her brothers. Candace always brings her mother to what Phineas and Ferb have built, but it always disappears before Linda sees it. As a result, she’s convinced that her daughter is not only high strung, but probably clinically insane.
The two of them have a VERY strange relationship.
Every day, Perry’s mission is the same: stop Dr. Doofenschmirtz. Doofenschmirtz is voiced by Dan Provenmire, the co-creator, and also frequent director of Phineas and Ferb. Dr. D is like Phineas and Ferb in that he is good at building things, and every day he makes something new, but his purpose is always evil (…ish). The C plot almost always plays out exactly the same way: Monogram has noticed Dr. D doing something strange, like buying all of the bratwurst in town, and he explains this to Perry. Perry goes to Dr. D’s joint (which is usually but not always Doofenschmirtz Evil Incorporated), and gets caught in the trap which Dr. D has set. Dr. D then recounts the childhood trauma or daily frustration, and his evil plan to deal with it. Perry escapes, and stops him. The destruction of Dr. Doofenschmirtz’s device is often involved in the disappearance of what Phineas and Ferb have created for the day.
Vanessa knows that her father is evil, and is always trying to bust him to her mother, but it ends the same as it always does with Candace. Vanessa is voiced by Olivia Olson from Love Actually, as I mentioned.
Who else is there? Dr. Doofenschmirz has a brother who is mayor of Danville, the city in which all of our characters live. Danville is in the tri-state area, which Dr. D is always trying to get charge of. The location is not clear, but it’s within driving distance of Mt. Rushmore, and also the beach (unless they flew there) at the edge of the ocean where Atlantis is (humor me). Dr. D also has a nice robot named Norm who appears a number of times.
Now, the relationships!
Linda once went out with Dr. Doofenschmirz when they were young, and it was her who told him to not try to take-over the world, but to try with something smaller like the tri-state area. This has clearly stuck with him. I think the relationship made a real impact on him. However, Linda and Mr. Fletcher are far too cute for anything to come between them. As for Dr. D and his wife, it’s not really clear why they divorced, but I love Dr. Doofenschmirz and want him to have whatever he wants, so if he wants her back, good luck to him.
This doesn’t have anything to do with incest but Perry and Dr. D also have a strange and very fascinating relationship. Perry and Dr. D have another really fascinating relationship. They’re pretty good friends. There’s no real hostility between them; for Perry it’s all about his duty. Perry helps Dr. D set up for Vanessa’s party, and Dr. D shares his buffalo wings with Perry, and if Perry doesn’t try to stop Dr. Doofenschmirz from carrying out his evil plan, he’ll sometimes ask what’s wrong or slow down. Plus, when Phineas and Ferb go to the future, Perry and Dr. D are playing chess, too old to battle anymore.
A character like Ferb is pretty great to ship with anyone because of how unusual he is. He’s smart and capable, but very silent. You never really know what he’s thinking or feeling. Phineas does the talking and deciding for both of them. But every once in a while we get to glimpse at Ferb the man. And one way is through his crush on Vanessa. There have only been two episodes that really deal with the subject, but they do it in enough detail to make it feel important. Most people seem to ship Ferb with Vanessa, and it’s with reason: they’re pretty great together. Unfortunately, Vanessa is Candace’s age, maybe older. Even though Phineas and Ferb aren’t that much younger than Jeremy, Stacy, Candace, and Vanessa, they’re really, really short, so it makes it very strange. You have to imagine them about to sprout, because in real life they’d never be that short. And you have to remember that what seems like a big age difference when they’re young can become quite negligible in adulthood.
Now, I’m not type of person who generally ships OT3s (or higher) because I don’t often ship slash or femslash, but if I were to ever ship an OT3 it would probably be Candace, Phineas, and Ferb. There’s just such richness in that triangle. First you have Phineas and Ferb. They’re so close as to almost be the very same person. Then you’ve got the calmest dude ever, Ferb, silent and strong, with the insanely neurotic and loud Candace. That’s magic. And then you’ve got Phineas and Candace, or Flynncest as I will call it. Where do I begin? I liken it to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, with Ferris and his older sister Jeanie.
Ferris bears no ill will towards his sister, but everyone likes him and he gets away with everything and Jeanie resents him for it, so she tries to get him in to trouble. Candace’s motivation, when she speaks of it, purportedly has more to do with safety, but I think that’s bullsh%t. Whatever her motivation, she’s obsessed with her brothers, and that makes for some good shipping. Phineas is very thoughtful of Candace, and often builds things for her. When they had chariot races they built her a chariot, when they went in to space they built her a spaceship. And he and Ferb carved her face on Mt. Rushmore for her birthday.
This show would be pretty great even if I didn’t ship Ferb/Candace and Phineas/Candace, but I have a lot of fun shipping those two pairs. There’s almost always something in every episode, and much like Wizards Of Waverly Place, there are often situations presented to us where a little tweaking would give us something suggestive.
Notes on the more canon pairings: Jeremy and Candace are pretty cute, but Candace and her brothers are better. Candace worships Jeremy – she can’t be herself with him. I like opposites attract, but in this case I think Jeremy would be better off with someone more like him.
Ferb and Vanessa make an awesome pair, but that’s just because of how cool Ferb is and how beautiful and cool Vanessa is. I’m not sure who I’d have her with in my ideal Danville. I love that she’s Doofenschmirz’s daughter – she’s so beautiful and awesome that it must be very validating for him. And he’s so sweet with her. She doesn’t appreciate him, but she starts to with “Finding Mary McGuffin”.
Phineas and Isabella. I don’t know, I just don’t like them together. I guess I’ve been shipping Phineas and Candace so long and so hard that I just find it hard to like Isabella, even though I adore Alyson Stoner after seeing Alice Upside Down. And I usually side with those who have unrequited crushes, unless they’ve got something so much better right under their noses (I’m looking at you, Freddie Benson of iCarly). I guess I’ve never much cared for the oblivious, all-business scientist types, like Phineas, or Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby, Alexander Hartdegen in The Time Machine, Robin Williams in Flubber, to name a few. You know, forgot it was their wedding day type blokes. They just don’t lend themselves to sexy situations because their thoughts are too lofty. Phineas is like that with Isabella, but not with Candace, for some reason, in my eyes, and that’s why Phinbella is not my drug of choice.
What else do I love about Phineas and Ferb? I love loving Dr. Doofenschmirz. Yes, he’s very selfish. But he’s been mistreated by everyone: his parents, his brother, his teachers, his daughter, and possibly his wife. She clearly didn’t understand him if she doesn’t know that he thinks he’s evil. He’s gotten the fuzzy end of the lollipop everywhere he turns. Well, I’d marry him. I’d be Mrs. Doofenschmirz. And I’d treat him well enough to make up for everything else. The only thing is that I’m pretty sure Vanessa Doofenschmirz would be the stepdaughter from Hell. Also he lives off of his alimony, so actually I wouldn’t marry him. I would be his kept woman.
Also, each episode features at least one song, and many of them are very catchy. Phineas and Candace do a duet of a love song called Gitchi Gitchi Goo, and all I’m going to say is that the floating hearts were a little suggestive. My personal favorite song from the series is Queen of Mars, which Candace sings in “Unfair Science Fair Redux”.
Now, doing an exhaustive list of my favorite Ferb/Candace/Phineas moments would take too much time. But I hope to get to talk about more specifics and details at some point.