Toonbarn Spotlight: Gravity Falls
Now, I’m far from being the go-to person when it comes to deciding which cartoons are considered intelligent and which ones are intellectually bankrupt. I spent my entire childhood watching Son Goku scream really hard for 3 episodes until his hair turned yellow, and I imagine that sort of thing has been ingrained in my mind as an animated masterpiece.
However, I’ve been following the industry for more than a decade now, and I’m more than aware of the types of cartoons that people who know what they’re talking about consider as “Smart” cartoons. Shows such as The Venture Bros., Adventure Time, Phineas and Ferb, and the like, where the cheap laughs, while available, only serve as window dressing for a cohesively-built world, characters that have lives outside of the narrative, and yes – humor that can only be appreciated by adults. Here at Toonbarn, we’ve covered these so-called smart cartoons regularly (mostly by Marc, Darkrukia, and the other contributors who are in charge of quality posts. I’m mostly here for Dragonball-related news), but there’s one cartoon that we feel deserves to be included in the theoretical list of “smart” cartoons, but haven’t tackled yet: Gravity Falls.
Created by Alex Hirsch, whose past credits include the critically-acclaimed preschool series Fish Hooks, is an animated comedy mystery series that officially debuted on the Disney Channel last June 29, 2012. The show has been renewed for a second season last March 12, 2013 so we can rest assured that the show has Disney’s support (*cough* unlike Motorcity *cough*)
The show follows the strange adventures of twins Dipper and Mabel Pines, who have been sent to live with their Great-Uncle Stan in the town of Gravity Falls, Oregon. Grunkle Stan lives in and runs a tourist destination called “The Mystery Shack,” which charges unwitting visitors for a glimpse of the world’s strangest museum.
When describing shows, it’s usually much easier to draw comparisons. This is why people can’t be faulted if they describe Gravity Falls as Adventure Time meets the X-Files. However, it’s a little bit unfair for all the shows concerned as comparisons like these have a tendency to give people the impression that at least one of the examples is not as good as the others. All of the shows mentioned above stand on their own merits, despite exhibiting similarities (Broad similarities. Beavis and Butthead Do America and My Neighbor Totoro are similar in the sense that they’re both animated movies, but they’re so far away from each other style and genre-wise that they’re no longer worth comparing).
As for Gravity Falls’ main pull, it’s the fact that it manages to introduce and reference numerous subject matters – from cryptography to videogames, to time travel, and even the big foot mystery – that used to be interesting only to mature audiences, wrap it all up in one of the finest examples of animation technology and accessible humor, while still ensuring that the stories and the series itself remain cohesive instead of turning into a mess of random episodes (not that that’s a bad thing – the aforementioned Adventure Time uses that style to great effect).
You can catch EXCLUSIVE Gravity Falls on Disney XD and for more fun head to the website at: www.disney.co.uk/disney-xd/gravity-falls/
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