My six year old has been sick for two days, which means I’m either confined to the couch holding her hand or rocking her in the chair—what will I do when she gets too big to rock? :( ?
So with all the sickness and fevers I’ve watched a lot of kids TV—Disney Channel in particular—Phineas and Ferb more specifically. And I’m becoming quite a Phineas and Ferb expert.
If you’ve never watched P&F (I need an abbreviation, I can’t keep typing that :) you should. Here are a few things about storytelling I’ve learned from P&F.
Have a relatable Villain: Evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz is a great bad guy. He has backstory. He’s funny. In fact he is sometimes so funny, you even root for him. You can relate to his shame and embarrassment. And really how evil is a machine that makes the city smell like dirty diapers?
How to juggle plots and subplots: There are always three plots running through the story: 1) What Phineas and Ferb are making, 2) What Candace is going to do about it, 3) And the showdown between Secret Agent Perry and Dr. Doofenshmirts. Now, I will admit that the resolution of all these plots is sometimes obvious, but it's fun to watch them get so twisted into each other. Plots and subplots should build off of each other. This show is a great example of this.
Quirky characters: A pet platypus that is really a secret agent, a British boy who rarely talks, two brothers who can make a rollercoaster in one hour, a high strung teenage girl conflicted about whether to “bust” her brothers or hang out with her boyfriend, and an evil scientist who just want someone to love him. You root for these characters and want them to succeed even though their goals are in opposition to each other.
It’s funny: Even though it is a kids show the dialogue is hilarious. Not potty talk or burp in your face funny—but clever and witty. Here is a tiny example:
Phineas: Time to test our maze.
Baljeet: Did somebody say “test”?
Phineas: It’s not really a test. We’re more like lab rats going after cheese.
Buford: Did someone say “cheese”?
Phineas: Buford, that’s just a metaphor.
Buford: Hmm, I am to metaphor cheese as metaphor cheese is to transitive verb crackers.
I couldn’t stop laughing. That is funny stuff—and not just written for kids.
I really believe that as writers we can learn from all kinds of storytelling: books, music, movies, dance, TV—and many more. So next time you have a sick day…enjoy it.
How about it, anyone else have any favorite TV lessons or P&F parts?