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Phineas and Ferb on DVD: The Fast and the Phineas The Daze of Summer

"Phineas and Ferb" The Daze of Summer DVD Review

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Show & DVD Details

Creators/Executive Producers: Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, Dan Povenmire

Regular Writers: Martin Olson, Bobby Gaylor, Mike Diederich, Jon Barry, Mike Roth, Aliki Theofilopoulos, Robert F. Hughes, Zac Moncrief / Directors: Dan Povenmire, Zac Moncrief

Voice Cast: Vincent Martella (Phineas), Ashley Tisdale (Candace), Thomas Sangster (Ferb), Caroline Rhea (Mom, Grandma Betty Joe), Dan Povenmire (Dr. Doofenshmirtz), Jeff "Swampy" Marsh (Major Monogram), Dee Bradley Baker (Perry), Alyson Stoner (Isabella), Richard O'Brien (Dad), Maulik Pancholy (Baljeet), Bobby Gaylor (Buford), Mitchell Musso (Jeremy), Alec Holden (Django), Kelly Hu (Stacey) / Notable Guest Voices: J.K. Simmons (J.B.), Malcolm McDowell (Grandpa Fletcher), Jane Carr (Grandma Fletcher), Dominic Wood (Charles), Tim Curry (Stubbings), Billy Ray Cyrus (Buck Buckerson), Barry Bostwick (Grandpa), Vicki Lewis (Lulu), Gwendoline Yeo (Fifi), Brian Stepanek (Mr. McGillicuddy), Brenda Song (Wendy)

Running Time: 115 Minutes (10 episodes) / Rating: TV-G
1.33:1 Full Screen (Original Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Digital Surround 2.0 (English, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, Spanish; Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99; DVD Release Date: February 10, 2009
Episodes aired between February 2008 - February 2009; Two Unaired
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9); White Keepcase

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It's been nearly ninety years since Walt Disney got involved in cartoons. Over the course of those years, the phrase "Disney animation" has come to most often apply to animated features. An undertaking initially considered a folly, the films have become the cornerstone of the company Walt left behind in 1966, with heavily-promoted and unusually strong-selling DVD releases turning our attentions to a different classic every few months.

Of course, "Disney animation" covers other domains too. Before Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the term could only refer to the studio's innovative cartoon shorts. Starting in 1985, it also applied to original television programming. Turning 25 next year, Walt Disney Television Animation doesn't enjoy the legacy of its big screen counterparts.
Shorts have been out of vogue for quite some time, yet the massive canon Disney accrued over the years still finds respect and exposure in DVD lines for collectors and families. By contrast, only a handful of the studio's animated TV shows have been made available. After two years of allowing folks to revisit childhood favorites like "DuckTales" and "TaleSpin", Disney seems to have abandoned their no-frills 3-disc box sets.

Disney Television Animation continues to exist and produce content. Much of it, especially the most-marketed material, is directed at the preschool sect via the Playhouse Disney brand. But some of it plays older and broader, such as the Disney Channel comedy "Phineas and Ferb". This show follows "Kim Possible" and a number of less distinguished series like "American Dragon: Jake Long", "The Emperor's New School", and "The Replacements." Like those programs, it's squeaky clean and family-friendly but seeks to sway the same tween and teen demographics of the network's now-hallmark live-action programming.

Phineas and Ferb huddle together while the army of robot clones they made close in on them. Despite many an effort, Candace is never able to successfully tattle on her brothers Phineas and Ferb, even when they stage a chariot race.

"Phineas" must be doing well with viewers. Last week, it celebrated its first bona fide anniversary on TV. Today, it receives its second DVD release in this review's subject. The Daze of Summer follows last summer's The Fast and the Phineas with just under two hours of episodes (twenty-five minutes more than the case's published runtime).

"Phineas" is the creation of Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, friends who together worked their way up from layout art on "The Simpsons" to handling many aspects of '90s Nickelodeon cartoon "Rocko's Modern Life." Reuniting after years apart (which Povenmire spent directing shows like "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "Family Guy"), the two bring a wacky sensibility to the show. It centers on two school-aged step brothers who strive to make the most of their unusually long summer vacation by embarking on a variety of ambitious adventures.

American Phineas (voiced by Vincent Martella, "Everybody Hates Chris") and British Ferb (Thomas Sangster of Love Actually and Nanny McPhee) welcome new experiences with every episode. In this volume alone, the boys compete in a jousting tournament, stage a neighborhood chariot race, travel to Mars, and transform their backyard into a kind of carnival. While they're reveling in such pursuits, their tattletale older sister Candace (High School Musical's Ashley Tisdale) eagerly reports the antics to their disbelieving mother. The squealing never gets anywhere and boy-crazy Candace doesn't enjoy much more success in her efforts to impress her secret crush Jeremy (Mitchel Musso of "Hannah Montana").

Pet platypus Perry takes a phone call as Agent P, the secret spy identity with which he easily ducks out. Dr. Doofenshmirtz momentarily outwits Agent P with a fake Monster Truck Locat-i-nator that is really a trap.

Meanwhile, the family's pet platypus Perry maintains a secret life as silent superspy Agent P. The question "Where's Perry?" is regularly asked, but only viewers, not Perry's owners, are privileged with the answers, which feel they could belong to a different show altogether.
Perry/Agent P's endeavors always play off the contrast between his nonchalance and the insecurities of his high-strung archnemesis, Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz (voiced by Povenmire, sounding like a G-rated Triumph the Insult Comic Dog). Their comic showdowns hark back to the encounters of Kim Possible and her assorted foes, but they spare us the cool talk and generally stay secondary to Phineas and Ferb's bizarre goings on.

Povenmire, Marsh, and company do bring a distinctive style to the series, although I can't say it's a very memorable one. Visually, several of the lead characters embody geometric shapes in a fashion admittedly inspired by Tex Avery's cartoons. Eyebrows are airborne. Thematically, though, viewers are more likely to find affinity in more recent TV fare. Many have compared "Phineas" to the types of fun cartoons ("Recess", "Weekenders") that lifted Disney's "One Saturday Morning" block to prominence in the late '90s and early 2000s.

I can see some similarities, but they only lead me to think that I wouldn't be charmed revisiting the turn-of-the-millennium Disney TV 'toons with a critical eye. I say that because I simply wasn't able to warm to "Phineas." It's not easy to say why; the show does a decent job of establishing story and characters while throwing in some witticisms and smart references. But none of it won me over.

The busy pace is too hectic for my liking. That no tidy morals are imparted distinguishes this from the blandly didactic Playhouse Disney stuff, but there's nothing of worth in their place. While many critics and viewers of differing demographics have spoken well of this series and I can appreciate their reasoned approval, at no point could I say I ever really enjoyed this show. I suppose it comes down to taste, that untraversable divide which brings judging art to an impasse. The show is by and large a comedy and one which rarely would I deem inspired or funny. Its lack of bite is troubling, but then so is the anything-goes stylings of polar opposite contemporaries like "South Park" and "Family Guy", which I don't much care for. Perhaps today's general-audiences TV comedy cartoons leave me in no man's land, wanting cleverness and not finding enough of it from either the raunchy or the routine.

Like the previous one, this "Phineas and Ferb" DVD serves up enough featured content to fill five half-hours of airtime. The quarter-hour episodes are paired up in ways that they apparently weren't when first aired. Outside of one two-parter and one well-placed passing comment, the assignments seem random.

Ferb and Phineas unveil a wooden platypus doll inspired by Perry in "Toy to the World." Two halves of one jouster, Phineas and Ferb spot the fabled Black Knight running by. Father and Candace take their parallel parking lessons to a muddy monster truck rally.

"Jerk de Soleil" (12:04) (Originally aired February 10, 2008)
To make up for the circus' cancellation, Phineas and Ferb throw a circus of their own. An allergic reaction keeps Candace away from Jeremy but gives her a raspy voice with which to join her mom's mall jazz band.

"Toy to the World" (10:50) (Originally aired February 22, 2008)
Enjoy this 1-minute clip from
the unaired 2-parter episode "Unfair Science Fair.":
Phineas and Ferb spice up life at a toy company with a wooden Perry the Platypus doll.

"A Hard Day's Knight" (12:17) (Originally aired June 14, 2008)
While visiting their grandparents in England, Phineas and Ferb participate in a jousting tournament against a local boy Candace likes. In disguise, Perry attends Evil-Con, a convention for evildoers.

"I, Brobot" (10:16) (Originally aired February 6, 2008)
Phineas and Ferb build robotic clones of themselves to conduct projects, but their plan backfires.

"It's a Mud, Mud, Mud, Mud World" (11:38) (Originally aired February 24, 2008)
To help Candace become more comfortable behind the wheel, Phineas and Ferb rent a monster truck. Doofenshmirtz has monster truck plans of his own.

Seeing a tea-sipping Zebra in a rocking chair, Candace experiences the hallucinatory effects of orange moss... or does she? With a camera hidden in her cowboy hat, Candace endures a lively water ride in hopes of a busting fit for reality TV. Phineas and Ferb go Bollywood, following the lead of their Indian friend Baljeet Patel in the not-yet-aired "Unfair Science Fair" episode.

"The Ballad of Badbeard" (11:56) (Originally aired April 12, 2008)
Phineas and Ferb hunt for pirate gold on a camping trip. Candace feels the hallucinatory effects of orange moss.

"Greece Lightning" (11:54) (Originally aired April 19, 2008)
Inspired by a Greece museum exhibit,
Phineas and Ferb hold a chariot race. Dr. Doofenshmirtz unleashes a mechanical man on Perry.

"Leave the Busting to Us" (11:20) (Originally aired April 19, 2008)
Candace enlists the expert host of "Bust 'Em" to catch Phineas and Ferb in the act once and for all.

"Unfair Science Fair" (12:06) (Scheduled to air February 17, 2009)
Phineas and Ferb help Buford make a functional portal to Mars. Competing against them in the science fair, Dr. Doofenshmirtz hopes to reverse a lifetime of failure with the world's biggest baking soda volcano. Candace vies for a job opening at Jeremy's corn dog shop.

"Unfair Science Fair Redux (Another Story)" (10:28) (Scheduled to air February 18, 2009)
Phineas and Ferb work to rescue Candace from Mars, where the locals revere her as a queen.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The picture quality is mostly what you'd expect for a 21st century animated series on DVD; sharp, vibrant, fullscreen, and unmarred by anything foreign. It's a lot more satisfying than the low-grade digital video most of the network's live-action shows run with. The Dolby Surround track feels a lot like plain stereo, although mild reinforcement is felt in a few scattered music and action sequences. Nevertheless, the audio is as crisp and rich as it should be.

Quick math lesson: the Googolplex Mall Science Fair offers four activities from three domains inspired by a two-parter. In the best activity (the second part of The World's Biggest Baking Soda Volcano-inator), you've got to align vinegar, baking soda, and the spout of Doofenshmirtz's creation. Phineas and Ferb's portal to Mars serves as a montage display on the Daze of Summer DVD's main menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Lone bonus feature "The Googolplex Mall Science Fair" is four games in one, all pertaining to the soon-to-air two-parter found on this DVD. Doofenshmirtz's giant baking soda volcano is at the center of two activities; one a short wire untangle,
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the other an inspired challenge requiring three alignments of three components. The other one-step games ask you to identify an out-of-focus telescope image and to decipher one of Candace's text messages. They're brief and mildly interesting.

The disc-launching previews promote Disney, Pinocchio: Platinum Edition, Earth, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Schoolhouse Rock! Earth, and Disney Movie Rewards. Those accessible from the Sneak Peeks menu give us looks at Beverly Hills Chihuahua, "Wizards of Waverly Place", and Bolt.

After a brief intro resembling the opening credits, the animated main menu settles on a montage playing on the Mars portal in the family backyard while Phineas and Ferb look on. The static submenus boast bright colors and varying score selections.

Par for 2009 Disney DVD, inside the case we find glum gray disc "art" and no standard insert. A double-sided sheet provides a unique code and general overview for Disney Movie Rewards, while a mini-booklet advertises a cornucopia of colorful titles, most of the Disney Channel variety.

Candace (voiced by Ashley Tisdale) embarrasses herself yet again in front of Jeremy (Mitchel Musso), but at least her binoculars help her discover a job opening. Phineas and Ferb have a ball (several, actually) during their vacation in Merry Old England.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"Phineas and Ferb" is technically sound and reasonably diverting, but I can safely say it won't be to everyone's liking, as it certainly wasn't to mine. More mature than Playhouse Disney fare but not particularly clever or challenging,
the show is most apt to entertain those who enjoy Disney Channel's sitcoms. It's a little less tween-oriented and more intelligent than its live-action brethren, but that's the closest I can come to recommending it.

If you're a fan of the series and would like to own a piece of it in its best available form, then by all means pick this up. It's well-established that random episode compilations are a worse value and less satisfying than a complete chronological collection. But as Disney has yet to give the latter treatment to "Kim Possible" and "Even Stevens" (the launch pad for the young man cinema owners voted the 4th biggest box office draw of 2008), you'd be foolhardy to think a season set is in the cards for "Phineas." The compilations may be sufficient for casual fans, but the faithful are inevitably going to need to fill in the blanks with homemade burns or bootlegs.

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Related Reviews:
Phineas and Ferb: The Fast and the Phineas Wizards of Waverly Place: Supernaturally Stylin' The Secret of the Magic Gourd
Oliver & Company (20th Anniversary Edition) Mary Poppins (45th Anniversary Edition) Space Buddies
Freakazoid! Season 1 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Mystery of the Easter Chipmunk It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown
Kim Possible: The Villain Files The Proud Family Movie Leroy & Stitch Kronk's New Groove A Goofy Movie
Recess: School's Out Teacher's Pet Meet the Robinsons Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: Special Field Trip Edition
Camp Rock High School Musical High School Musical 2 The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: Taking Over the Tipton

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Reviewed February 10, 2009.