Disney provided transportation and accommodations to facilitate this interview; however, all opinions are my own.
Spending an hour with Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, the creators and producers of Phineas and Ferb, made me realize that I’ve been missing out. Their last episode was my first. I realize now that they weren’t just writing for kids and that they have the power to create heartfelt emotion and uproarious laughter all in the span of a few seconds. This duo shared how they feel about the end of their show, insight into their new animated series, and what they hope future program writers will learn from them.
10 Things I Learned From the Creator’s of Phineas and Ferb
- How much of their family life ends up on screen? Not as much as you’d think. While they do write from inspiration from their children provide, Phineas and Ferb is primarily based on their childhoods. They reverted to their 12-year-old boy mindset to come up with the storylines for their characters, and they credit their parents for letting them be creative and do ridiculous things like building tree houses.
- Days of Summer. They admit that the kids of Danville have a longer summer break than most at 104 days. But while it fits the song, it’s the number of days in the summer season and not the days of summer break. The original show wasn’t set all in one summer so when the change was made, they asked if anyone knew how long a typical summer break was. Someone threw out 104, and that was that.
- What Easter Eggs are hidden in the “Last Day of Summer” episode? There are a few, but the only one they’d elaborate on was the scene where the voice actors are pictured in the film. That is most of them. Beuford was left out because he’s 50 and has white hair and a beard, and they thought that wasn’t a good fit for the character. Instead, they turned him into an octopus.
- Which episodes are their favorites? They have a list of favorites but when pressed the episode entitled “Roller Coaster” comes up first because it’s a show the duo did on their own. The second is, “Summer Belongs to Me,” their first hour-long special, the last eleven minutes are what Povenmire considers some of their best work.
- What makes them emotional? The ending songs. In particular “Summer Belongs to You” and “Carpe Diem” that Povenmire can’t watch without tearing up. Povenmire also wells up talking about the Twitter response to the end of the show announcement. He received hundreds of tweets from people saying beautiful things about the show. He breaks again as he says that he didn’t realize there was a whole community of fans who were sad to see the show end and it touched him how much the show meant to them.
- What Povenmire wants us to know about the Phineas and Ferb characters. He says nobody ever asks, but every show runner has an answer to this question, “What character in the show ended up completely different than the way you had conceived them?” He cites the character of Kate in “Lost,” as an example. But in “Phineas and Ferb” the character is Stacy, Candace’s best friend. Stacy is the polar opposite of how she was initially written. They intended Stacy’s character to incite Candace; however, Ashley Tisdale, who voices Candace can take her character into a frenzy, so Stacy became the voice of reason instead. But she’s not the only character who has taken on a life of their own. Major Monogram was originally a means of exposition for Perry. But the writers started giving him a life and the character grew with a backstory that was just too funny not to include.
- Why end the show now? It’s been a decade and Povenmire is really proud of most of the 4th season, and he wanted to go out before the show got tired. Of course as Marsh notes, there’s a whole new crop of kids that can watch the show from season one.
- Phineas and Ferb Movie? What happened to the full-length Phineas and Ferb movie that was previously announced? Povenmeir says a change of studio heads resulted in a shift in priorities, and the film was dropped. They’d struggled to get a story that worked for everyone, and they wanted one they could believe in, but that didn’t happen and with the change in the environment they’re OK with that. When pressed about the series being dusted off later, they both look at each other with a knowing look and smile and then turned back to us to say, “Never say never.”
- What’s Next? “Mikey Murphy’s Law,” a show about a boy who is a descendant of the man for whom the term, Murphy’s Law, was coined. Since he was a child, everything has gone wrong, but Mikey thinks his life is full of adventure and excitement. He’s ready with a backpack with a helmet, spare galoshes, and everything he needs to meet adversity with positivity. Or as Marsh says, it’s about taking the things that life throws at you and dealing with them instead of using them as an excuse as to why your life is awful. This new animated series is scheduled for 2017 on Disney Xd.
- What they hope future program creators will learn from them. Marsh wants them to know that you can be funny without being mean, you can add classical music and big words, and there’s no need to dumb down shows. Treat kids smart, that’s what they fought for.
What I took away from my time with Povenmire and Marsh is that they can’t turn off the funny. Even when they’re tearing up and talking about really heartfelt emotions, they throw in something to change the mood and elicit a laugh. They seemed genuinely touched by the fan’s reaction to the show and the characters they created. I’ll be catching the Phineas and Ferb marathon prior to the series finale on June 12. I hope you’ll join me!
Both Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh are active on Twitter. Tweet Dan at @DanPovenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh at @mmonogram. You can also connect with Disney Xd on Facebook and visit the Phineas and Ferb site on Disney Xd.
Don’t forget to watch the Special One-Hour Episode Premiere of Phineas and Ferb “Last Day of Summer.”
June 12, 2015 | 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM ET/PT | Rated: TV-G
Their summer is coming to an end, so it’s Candace’s final chance to bust her brothers. She is promptly defeated, but an opportunity to redo the day is presented when she’s introduced to Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s Do-Over-Inator. The result is a rip in the space-time continuum that results in the days becoming shorter and the disappearance of her brothers.
Listen to the full, unedited interview with Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, the creators and producers of Phineas and Ferb as they talk about how the end of the series has affected them, how their kids make them perform the voices for their friends, and more. I promise you’ll laugh and you’ll cry. Enjoy!