You know how now everyone knows how great Adventure Time is and everyone talks about it and you think to yourself "I'm enjoying it but I wish I hadn't gotten into it late and wish I had been there to enjoy it from the beginning." Do you wish there was another show out there that was going to be big that you could get in on now? Do you want a show that is great for kids but has got that sense of humor that adults can enjoy as well (at least weird adults like us)? Do you wish that Twin Peaks and Lost were animated and comedic? No? Well then get out of this blog, nobody wants you here! But for those of you who stayed, might I recommend that you start watching Gravity Falls.
Gravity Falls is a new animated series on the Disney Channel (which makes it the first show I've watched on the Disney Channel since I was probably twelve) from the mind of Alex Hirsch (former writer and storyboarder for the Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack) and I saw a promo for it and didn't expect much. But after hearing some rumbling about it stirring up in the geek-o-sphere, people were beginning to say it was unique and quite funny, and after I checked it out I have to say that not only were they right, but I think I'm kind of in love with this show.
Set in the fictional town of Gravity Falls, Oregon, the show is about Dipper and Mabel Pine, twins who have been sent to live with their Great Uncle (Grunkle for short) Stan, a con artist and shyster who turned his house into a tourist trap called "The Mystery Shack" where he shows off fake strange oddities to anyone dumb enough to fall for them. But one day Dipper finds a mysterious book that details all these strange little secrets that exist in Gravity Falls, and you can tell from looking at these secrets that Alex Hirsch was a huge fan of the Weekly World News when he was growing up because its not just things like werewolves or vampires, its the sort of American born supernatural creatures like Bigfoot or Bat Boy (who even appears in the opening credits).
There are two things about this show that seem to be the big appeal behind it, which is the humor and the mystery behind it. I'll be honest with you, I'm not that invested in the mystery of Gravity Falls at the moment, but that's 90 percent because the humor of this show has me rolling. The comedy is hard to explain because its just pure craziness, but its smart craziness. When I was a kid I used to love cartoons that didn't talk down to me, that actually had the same kind of timing and delivery to their jokes that the sitcoms my parents watched had. And it seems like now when I look at most cartoons out there they're just basic and lazy humor meant for kids that don't know any better. Or when they do make smart jokes, it tends to be in cartoons that I look at and go "well that's clever, but you're not taking advantage of what your medium can do. Come on, you're a cartoon, act like it." So Gravity Falls is a huge rush of fresh air, it has clever and wacky jokes, and they're jokes that could only work in a cartoon. The guys making this cartoon grew up watching some of the same shows I did and you can tell, heck I've even spotted a few visual ticks in characters that let me know the animators were huge Simpsons fans. And they take advantage of the crazy set ups for each episode when it comes to the comedy. In the first episode you have a little girl punch a Gnome so hard that he starts vomiting up rainbows. You find me something else like that on TV and I'll give you a dollar (as long as you pay shipping and handling).
A good example of the kind of humor I'm talking about is in some of the main characters and how they're full blown cartoonish tropes, but taken to levels that we rarely seen, and at the same time executed in a way that doesn't make them annoying, instead it actually makes them lovable. Like Grunkle Stan, who is a swindler, a character type we've seen a dozen times over, but you so rarely see the swindler taken to extremes and you so rarely like them. But Grunkle Stan has made kids counterfeit money for him, has gone to jail in Columbia, and steals on a regular basis, and yet you still really like the guy. And then there's Mabel, who is the embodiment of sugar and sunshine and teddy bears, and is voiced by Kristen Schaal. Now Schaal is an actress who I liked when she first popped onto the scene, but slowly I realized that she really only had one note to her humor and it was getting old to me when she joined the Daily Show, and by the time she got the gig on 30 Rock I couldn't take her anymore. And yet the directors and writers know just how to use her in this character, and she knows exactly how to act in the roll. She's perfect in this part and I can guarantee you that by this time next year you're going to see random quotes from Mabel randomly popping up all over the internet because you can't help but crack up at her.
As I mentioned, the other big appeal of the show is that there is a mystery behind everything, and so far only four episodes have come out and I'll be honest with you, personally I'm not very invested in this mystery, but if you go online and start looking up Gravity Falls you will quickly find that I am alone in this because the net has blown up over what the secret of this town could be. And there's a reason for this, the creators of this show are actually taking it seriously. They put a tiny little flash of secret symbols and codes into the book that Dipper finds or into the open credits and other creators would have just have made stuff up, but these guys actually thought these out. Some people online have already been able to decipher the codes (and created whole websites just for that) and sure enough the codes actually imply big things to come. However I can't give these guys quite as much credit as everyone else has because I have yet to see where it all is going and how much of these secrets are done on purpose. For example, I've seen lots of people online going "Oh my gosh, this one character was in the background of one episode and picked something up, and then he was in the background of another episode." And when I read this I want to tell these people that, hey, that's just how animation is, they have to reuse background characters to save money. But on the other hand, when you watch this show, you can tell that the creators are so smart that I could be wrong, they very well could be putting in hints that small and in the end it will all build up to something. The only way to tell is to keep watching, but trust me, that is no sacrifice.