I grew up in the time of Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, Animaniacs, and Freakazoid being on Cartoon Network all the time. I had a lot of friends who spent their time watching the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, but I was far more interested in the pop culture referencing, classy humor of Looney Tunes. Cartoon Network has since changed its style, and rarely plays classic cartoons anymore and honestly, I think the next generation will be sadder for it.
While I was in college, I discovered a fantastic cartoon one night that is absolutely amazing – Phineas and Ferb. The show recently ended, but all four seasons are on Netflix and I recommend trying them out, especially if you have kids. If anything else, it can give you a break from the more repetitive cartoons available and sneak in some jokes for you to laugh about as well. It was created by two guys who worked on Family Guy, The Simpsons, Rocko’s Modern Life, and Spongebob Squarepants, Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh.
Phineas and Ferb are step-brothers who spend their days trying to make sure they have the best summer ever. For them, this means creating crazy inventions, which range from building a roller coaster to traveling in space and time. Their older sister, Candace, tries to bust them constantly to their mother but never succeeds. The reason is almost always related to the best subplot of the show; their pet platypus, Perry, is a secret agent who spends his time fighting his nemesis, Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz. Doofenshmirtz tries a new scheme everyday to take over the Tri-State Area, but Perry is always there to thwart him – except for one blast from his “-Inator” of the day, which just so happens to make Phineas and Ferb’s invention disappear before their mother sees it.
All of this action is paired with some hilarious romantic subplots, musical interludes, and longstanding running jokes that almost always feel more geared toward adults. It’s a kid appropriate show, but honestly unless they’re older a large portion of the humor will go over their heads. Being in my mid-20s, that’s part of why I love it so much; it’s reminiscent of my days watching classic Looney Tunes. There are plenty of celebrity and voice actor cameos throughout the series – if you find yourself asking “Don’t I know that voice?” the answer is yes, yes you do. Not to mention that a lot of the core cast is actually well-known. Ferb is Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones, also known as the little boy from Love, Actually, and their father is Richard O’Brien, of Rocky Horror Picture Show fame.
The animators worked for 16 years to get the show on the air, with Dan Povenmire saying that “if this was on the air, I’d watch it, and I don’t always feel that about every show I work on.” If interested, I highly recommend starting with the first episode I ever caught on TV, “Hard Day’s Knight/I, Brobot,” (S1, E10) and if you find it hilarious, you’ll enjoy the show.