Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why You Should Be Watching "Gravity Falls"

I was never a fan of the Disney Channel growing up.  It was most likely due to the fact that it didn't have cartoons that could compete with Nickelodeon or Kids' WB.  My mind has started to change now that Gravity Falls has hit the airwaves. Even though it has only been on for about a month, there is already a growing fan base on the internet.  It's good to see that the My Little Pony principle can work for other channels.

The shows follows 12 year-old twins Dipper and Mabel Pines as they spend the summer with their great uncle (or "grunkle" as they call him) in the unusual town of Gravity Falls, Oregon.  Every episode, some new bizarre creature turns up to cause mischief and it's up to Dipper and Mabel to get to the bottom of things.

The supernatural setting is nothing new, but like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural, there is plenty of humor to level out the toned-down-for-the-kids creepy factor.  First off is the dynamic between the two main characters.  Dipper is a good straight man whose investigations usually serve as the impetus for each episode.  It sometimes feels weird hearing Jason Ritter's voice coming out of a 12 year-old, but he still manages to be entertaining and believable without becoming a cardboard cutout when compared to the wackier characters around him.  This is most noticeable around his sister, Mabel.  Always the eternal optimist, Mabel and her rainbow of baggy sweaters are always a delight to watch, and she is a pitch-perfect satire of tween culture as she looks for the boy of her dreams (and secretly hopes he's a vampire) and fantasizes about owning a man-sized hamster ball.

The writing itself is very witty and reminds me of a lot of Jay Ward's work like Rocky and Bullwinkle.  In the pilot episode for example, Mabel meets a boy who Dipper suspects may be a zombie because he's pale, quiet, and uncoordinated.  I won't ruin the twist, but the big reveal had me laughing hysterically. That's not to say however that the show doesn't have its moments of occasional and utter ridiculousness that can't help but provoke a laugh or two.

Pictured: Comedy Gold (also Red, Green, and Blue)

The character design is a bit simple and reminiscent of most of what's on TV now, but the backgrounds are great and the style fits the quirky, cerebral nature of the show. Kids will love it, and thankfully adults should too.

I never would have expected such an entertaining show to come from the House of Mouse these days, but Alex Hirsch (from The Misadventures of Flapjack and Fish Hooks) has created truly funny, creator-driven program that hopefully will stick around for a while.

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