Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gravity Falls

Gravity Falls is my new favorite show. I have a lot of shows that I like to watch, but not many have struck me as so good I HAVE to write about them. Until this one.

Gravity Falls is a new animated series on the Disney Channel about two kids who investigate and solve mysteries. The whole series basically takes any paranormal, magical, sci-fi idea ever invented, and turns it on its head. It spoofs not just ghosts and monsters, but also clones, time travelers, and conspiracy theories.

Dipper and Mable Pines are the main characters. They are sent to live with their Great Uncle, Stanford Pines, aka Grunkle Stan, in the strange town of Gravity Falls. Dipper begins to suspect that there is more to the town than meets the eye, and begins investigating the mysteries and unexplained events that occur all over the town and surrounding area. It is not known who, or what is behind all the mysteries, but it's implied that Grunkle Stan knows a lot more than he lets on.

When I was younger I would go to the library and check out every book I could get my hands on about paranormal stuff. Monsters, UFOs, Urban Legends, anything weird fascinated me. This, combined with the fact that the show's style of humor is so completely random and off the wall funny, and it's like they wrote the show just for me.

The show was created by Alex Hirsch, who is a writer for another animated series, Fish Hooks, who's sense of humor I find to be completely random and hilarious. In an interview he explained that the show is based on his childhood, with a lot of weirdness thrown in. Dipper and Mable are based on himself and his own twin sister, while Grunkle Stan is named for his Grandpa Stan. When he was younger, he was fascinated by all the same things that I was fascinated in, so when he went to make this show, he just incorporated anything that his twelve-year-old self would have wanted in the show.

This show is one of the funniest shows I have watched in a long time. It was hilarious from episode one. So far there has not been one episode that I would not want to rewatch, and I have. I can't say that about any other show. I have a few shows that I'll rewatch with my cousins, but there aren't that many episodes I would rewatch on my own. With Gravity Falls, though, I have watched some episodes up to three times, by myself, and I still laugh every time. They are a riot!

The writing on the show is better than on any other "Kids" show I've seen in a long time. It's right up there with my other favorite cartoon, Phineas and Ferb. Every joke is hilarious, and every sight gag works. The music is great, and the animation and effects in the action scenes are just amazing for the minimalistic design of the show. The shadows in the opening credits alone blow my mind every time with how life-like they move. It's just little details like that, that make me appreciate the show so much.

There is so much detail in the shows. Rewatching them is almost a necessity if you want to make sure you get all the jokes and references. There are always things happening in the backgrounds of scenes, and the artists actively hide things for the fans to look for. 

Great characters are one of the most important things in making a great show, and Gravity Falls is full of them. Dipper is a lot like who I would have wanted to be as a kid. I loved mysteries as a kid, Encyclopedia Brown, and The Boxcar Children were two of my favorite book series. I always wished I could investigate mysteries myself, and Dipper is like a projection of that wish.

Mabel is his twin sister. She is not nearly as smart as Dipper, though she can have her moments. She is however, one of the funniest characters. She is the Lucy to Dipper's Ricky. She wears outlandish sweaters and has random fantasies about ridiculous things, such as owning a giant human-sized hamster ball. In one episode she scribbled over some insulting graffiti and replaced it with a message that said "You look nice today!" and claimed that it was going to "Blow someone's mind!"

Grunkle Stan is a lazy, good-for-nothing, swindler. Why Dipper and Mabel's parent's thought it was a good idea to leave them with him is beyond me. He does seem to actually care for them at times, but he's one of those kinds of people who wouldn't want anyone to know that. He runs "The Mystery Shack" where they all live. It is a tourist trap that serves as a collection of oddities, as well as a gift shop that sells all sorts of weird, fake, paranormal, junk.

There are also two other main characters, Soos and Wendy. Soos is the handy-man at the mystery shack. He always means well, but is more of a bumbling idiot than anything. Wendy is the only other employee at the Mystery Shack. She "runs" the store for Grunkle Stan, but she really doesn't do a whole lot. She's a typical teenager.

Aside from these five main characters, there are many, many other bit characters around the town. Most of them just show up in the backgrounds of scenes, but when they have speaking parts they are hilarious. There is Manly Dan, who is a walking "Manly Lumberjack" Stereotype. In one episode he catches fish with his bare hands and punches them, while his children cheer him on. Later there are fish raining from the sky and he runs screaming in terror that the fish are coming for revenge.

Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland are the epitome of ridiculous policeman stereotypes. Barney Fife looks like a genius compared with these two. When they thought they were about to catch a murderer they started freaking out with excitement. Deputy Durland exclaimed, "I'M GONNA GET TO USE MY NIGHTSTICK!!!" and both officers began dueling with their sticks. Then they burst into the suspect's office, and for no reason, the deputy gleefully knocked over a lamp.

Old Man McGucket is the self described, "Local Kook," and one of the funniest side characters. In his first appearance he is dancing around a beach at the lake doing "A Jig of Grave Danger," and screaming about the legendary Gobblewonker, a lake monster he claims to have seen. A park ranger emerges from his ranger shack and starts treating him like a misbehaving kitten, squirting him with a little squirt bottle so he'd leave the beach-goers alone. That gag alone had me in stitches. I missed most of the dialogue in that scene the first time I watched it because I was laughing so hard.

Toby Determined is a reporter who runs a newspaper called "The Gravity Falls Gossiper." He uses a turkey baster as a microphone, and when that was pointed out to him, he just sadly replied, "It certainly is." He dresses like a stereotypical journalist, complete with a fedora, but instead of a tag that says "Press" the tag on his hat simply says "Hat."

These are just a few of the side characters, but there are many others. Most of them don't have many lines, if any, but they are there as something to look for in the background of the scenes, or as sight gags.

The last group of characters are the monsters, creatures, ghosts, and other weird things around the town. These are all just as funny as the regular people. Even when they are supposed to be terrifying, they're hilarious. The first episode featured little gnome creatures who looked like little lawn gnomes, but they lived in the woods and wanted to kidnap Mable and make her their queen. Another episode featured two elderly ghosts haunting a convenience store, specifically targeting teenagers to scare. In another episode Dipper discovers a race of Minotaur-like creatures called "MANotaurs" who are even more of a masculine stereotype than Manly Dan is.

These days there aren't many shows I would buy on DVD, but if Disney released a season set of Gravity Falls, I wouldn't hesitate to buy it. If you have access to this show I HIGHLY encourage you to watch it. It is WELL worth your time. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a brand new episode waiting, and I need to go watch it! :)

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