I’ve written here before about how much I like the Disney cartoon Phineas and Ferb. In a jaded age, these two boys stand out for their joy and enthusiasm. To them, life is a happy adventure, with exciting opportunities and mysteries around every corner. They are cheerful and completely without attitude. They like people. The show stands out on the Disney Channel like a rose on an ash heap, surrounded as it is by overexcited teens engaging a variety of attitude-laden, obnoxious activities.
Lately, though, whenever I watch Phineas and Ferb in action, I have this niggling feeling that those two cartoon characters are familiar to me for another reason. The other night, I finally figured out why. That is, I know who Phineas and Ferb grew up to be:
If you don’t recognize the two on the right, they’re Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman from the Mythbusters. Episode after episode, these two men, the redheaded Adam as extroverted as Phineas, and the beret-wearing Jamie as quiet and focused as Ferb, us math, engineer, mechanics, and good-old ingenuity to see if there’s any truth to urban legends, YouTube stunts, and movie stunts. They are joined by their trusty sidekicks, Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, and Tory Belleci. The build things, drop things, blow things up (with endearing frequency), crash things, shoot things . . . you name it, they’ve done it.
The show’s premise is, in and of itself, quite fun. It’s fascinating to see them state a problem, come up with a few hypotheses, and then work their way through to a conclusion, one that either proves or disproves a popular cultural myth. It turns out that, if you have enough duct tape, you can not only survive on a desert island, you can escape it as well, using a boat made out of duct tape. And you know how the movie action hero, running from an explosion, always makes a mighty leap using the explosion’s own energy to propel him to safety? That doesn’t really work.
What makes the show a winner, though, isn’t the experiments themselves. It’s the giddy energy that Adam, Kari, Grant and Tory bring to their work, a la Phineas and friends, with Jamie providing those amusing ballast, just as Ferb does. These five are quite obviously having a great deal of fun, and it’s enjoyable to immerse oneself for an hour or so in their imaginative, informative world.
I highly recommend both shows.