Hey everybody, Geddy Cahoon here to tell you something you may find a bit shocking: A cartoon on the Disney Channel is one of the best things on television today. I know, it sounds crazy doesn’t it? But the truth is that Alex Hirsch’s paranormal animated dramedy Gravity Falls is the best cartoon currently on TV, better than Adventure Time, Regular Show, even my beloved Aqua Teen Hunger Force. In fact, I’d even argue that Gravity Falls is one of the best shows on TV, PERIOD. It’ll be entering it’s 2nd season soon even though it’s already been on for a year, and today I’m gonna give you the hard sell because I desperately want this amazing show to stay on the air.
I’d forgive most people for initially writing Gravity Falls off. It’s an animated show on the Disney Channel after all, and Disney is maybe the lowest common denominator of children’s programming when looking at animated ventures from the last few years. But Gravity Falls is the diamond in a massive rough. I mean when one really takes a look at the premise, the fact that this show is on Disney shouldn’t be a deterrent. The show concerns two twins, Dipper and Mabel Pines, who are sent to live with their Great Uncle (Grunkle) Stan for the Summer in the quiet, sleepy town of Gravity Falls, Oregon.
Grunkle Stan owns a roadside tourist trap called the Mystery Shack, and Dipper and Mabel quickly learn that something’s off about Gravity Falls. Paranormal and sci-fi-ish incidents occur with regularity, including but not limited to living wax figures, unhinged forest gnomes, ghosts and time travelers. With most of the town’s adults (Save for Grunkle Stan’s right hand man at the shack, Soos) turning a blind eye to the constant stream of strange events, it’s up to Dipper and Mabel, armed only with a strange book numbered 3 and containing numerous references to paranormal myth and legend, to protect Gravity Falls.
Now on top of having a really killer premise and great monster of the week storylines, Gravity Falls also weaves a rich mythology, which an arching mystery that tends to bookend episodes and really takes off during the season’s final episodes. Basically, fake-psychic brat Gideon Gleeful has a vendetta of sorts against the Pines family – He loathes Stan and has unrequited feelings for Mabel. I won’t spoil the plot for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but the character development of Gideon from minor irritation to legitimate threat is actually really believable and he’s a thoroughly unlikable antagonist.
Some of the other continuous season long plots involve Dipper’s feelings for an older girl, Wendy and Mabel’s adorable friendship with a pig named Waddles. The idea that Stan may be hiding something also becomes integral, as does (Obviously) Dipper’s book. The monster/incident of the week stories are fantastic as well, each one unique, enjoyable and hilarious. Basically, plot-wise, Gravity Falls hits the mark in every possible way. It tries so much harder than you would expect from a show on Disney, and it pays off. You become supremely invested in these unbelievably likable characters and their stories. Thusly, characterization and writing are where Gravity Falls truly shines.
Though the characters on Gravity Falls run the gamut from incredibly likable to incredibly antagonistic, they are all unbelievably hysterical. The writing on the show is nothing short of phenomenal and the amazing voice acting fully realizes it and takes it to a whole other level. Kristen Schaal of 30 Rock voices the adorable, hilarious Mabel, the show’s breakout character. Former Flapjack writer and Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch provides the voices of Stan, Soos and others. Emmy-nominated actor Jason Ritter knocks it out of the park as Dipper. The outstanding voice acting complements the writing unbelievably well, ensuring that every moment, both comedic and dramatic, is fully realized.
The characters and stories of Gravity Falls are written with such genuine wit and sparkle and charm that once you see a few episodes you can’t help but fall in love with the show. The town and its denizens are full of life, adding to the show’s constant stream of humor. Supporting characters like an ambiguously gay biker and Wendy’s jilted emo ex-boyfriend Robbie routinely steal the show. There is never a dull moment in Gravity Falls, Oregon. Gravity Falls doesn’t stumble into a lot of the same pratfalls as Adventure Time and Regular Show, two cartoons that sometimes mistake random nonsense for jokes and unnecessary adult themes as edginess.
Now don’t get me wrong – I enjoy both of those shows. And I have nothing against edginess or envelope-pushing when done right. But sometimes edginess isn’t needed. Sometimes it just feels forced. Gravity Falls also shoots for genuine sentiment a lot of the time and again, always hits the mark (Are you sensing a pattern with the mark hitting). There are moments from Gravity Falls (I won’t get specific, for the sake of potentially new viewers) where I’ve gotten tears in my eyes. The show seamlessly goes from the extremes of comedy to the extremes of drama.
Gravity Falls is a great example of all-ages TV that works. Sure it features jokes from time to time that’ll fly over the younger viewers’ heads, but it doesn’t present these things in a trashy or overdone way. It also features predominantly general, non-inappropriate humor that kids and adults alike will find hilarious. Seriously, the character of Mabel is an unbelievable example of a breakout character that never gets annoying in any way. She’s hysterical and charming and amazing, moreso than the rest of the incredibly likable cast of characters, which is a feat.
In many respects, Gravity Falls sort of reminds me of my favorite comic book of all time, Jeff Smith’s Bone. Gravity Falls ascribes to the notion that kids are not idiots. That you can present kids with things like mythology, and a little bit of violence and intelligent, well written humor and that these things won’t scare them away. The writers of the show understand that you can craft something that appeals to kids and adults that doesn’t alienate either group. Gravity Falls is an hilarious, emotionally deep, unbelievably unique series that, Disney produced or not, is one of the best things on TV today. It deserves so much better than to be written off as just another Disney Channel cartoon.
Plus the theme song kicks ass.
So I’m sort of begging you here – Regardless of your age, give Gravity Falls a shot. PLEASE. You won’t be disappointed, and I’d really love for this amazing show to at least continue past it’s second season.
That’s it for today! Follow me on Twitter (@stupidbeard414), friend me on Facebook (Geddy Cahoon QWN) or shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to talk TV or whatever. I’m an open guy. Until next time, thanks for reading and for the love of god watch Gravity Falls.