Much as I’d like to think of myself as a sophisticated connoisseur of art and culture, I consume my fair share of pop pablum. And as a dad to three kids, I also know more than I want to know about kids cartoons. A few shows have been outright banned from our living room TiVo, but there are a few I genuinely enjoy. And “Phineas and Ferb” is definitely a guilty pleasure.
Though a Disney property, “Phineas and Ferb” is smarter, funnier, and sometimes more subversive than you might expect. It’s pro imagination (a never-ending summer break calls for daily flights of fancy), it embraces quirk (a platypus named Perry is a secret agent), and the evil-genius villain (Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz) is haplessly lovable.
And it is because of these traits that I’m cautiously looking forward to tomorrow’s debut of a new special episode of the show: “Phineas and Ferb’s Hawaiian Vacation.”
During a Hawaiian family vacation, Candace finds a cool lava rock necklace and is plagued with bad luck, so a native tells her she must take it to the top of a volcano, which spoils the cool, calm vibe she learned from a Hawaiian yoga instructor. Phineas and Ferb go with Candace and along the way, they ride a few waves with pro surfer Laird Hamilton. Meanwhile, Dr. Doofenshmirtz is also at the same volcano, trying to make the population less intelligent with a “de-evolution-inator.”
The plot is a clear tribute to the famous three-part Hawaii adventure of the “Brady Bunch” in the 1970s. And “Phineas and Ferb” have invoked tiki culture before. Of course, Hawaiian culture is something distinctly different, but I don’t expect much nuance from a children’s show. I’m just hoping to be entertained… and to not be annoyed by some of the common stereotypes and cheap jokes that usually turn up in a Hawaii-themed special.
I’m not sure what “a native” will mean, but here’s hoping Laird Hamilton provided some island-savvy script consulting.
“Phineas and Ferb’s Hawaiian Vacation” premieres on the Disney Channel on Friday, July 9 at 9 p.m. EDT/PDT. It will be rebroadcast on Monday, July 12 at 7:30 p.m.