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Povenmire and Marsh Talk ‘Phineas and Ferb’ Finale

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Povenmire and Marsh Talk ‘Phineas and Ferb’ Finale

Summer is finally coming to an end for Phineas and Ferb.

The eponymous stars of the hit Disney XD shows will have their final bow in a special extra-length series finale special airing June 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT titled Phineas and Ferb: Last Day of Summer. A 73-hour marathon of all 222 episodes in the series, which debuted on Disney Channel in 2007, precedes the airing of the finale.

The finale occurs, as the title implies, on the last day of summer — a day that sees Candace push a button on one of Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s gizmos that puts time in a loop that causes that day to start over and over again. Each time, however, something goes missing and everyone forgets it ever existed, leading Candace to reach out to her brothers to attempt to fix the space-time continuum before everything goes irreparably wrong.

Here’s a clip from the finale:

Show creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh screened the final episode and answered questions about the end of the series, which they will follow up with a new series for Disney titled Mikey Murphy’s Law. Here’s how that went:

Q: How do your families feel about incidents from their lives being fair game for the show?

Dan Povenmire: Most of our inspiration comes from our own childhood, because we were creative kids and had creative parents that would allow us to do ridiculous things. We were always building tree houses, and I was the king of my neighborhood because I could jump 31 pinecones on my banana seat bike.

Jeff “Swampy” Marsh: I look back on some of the go-carts that we built and it’s really amazing that I’m still here — and have most of my teeth.

Q: What is your one favorite episode?

Povenmire: We have a list of favorites. If I really have to be pressed for a favorite, it might be “Rollercoaster” (the pilot), because it’s just the one that Swampy and I did just by ourselves, basically. But now, when I watch it later, it’s “Summer Belongs to You!,” which is our first hour-long special and it had Phineas and Isabella in Paris. The last 11 minutes of “Summer Belongs to You!” is my favorite. We’ve been doing this for a decade and it felt like this was a good time (to go). I feel like the show is still really good and really fresh. I’m really proud of most of the fourth season as much as I am of the first ones. And I felt like, let’s go out before we really start feeling like, before it starts feeling tired.

Marsh: There’s a whole new batch of kids that can start on episode one. And now you go to talk at colleges and there’s people at colleges who say, I’ve been watching since I was in middle school. And you think, that’s not possible … oh, yeah, it is! I don’t have a favorite, but you would be shocked at how many letters we get of people telling us, you got us through a really dark time.

Povenmire: Or you inspired my kid to be more creative. Somebody sent us this letter that said — it was actually a letter to Gary Marsh, the head of the channel — just saying that before their kid was watching Phineas, they would sort of get through art class to go out and play and would never draw anything. And she sent a picture that he had drawn before Phineas and it was like one line on a piece of paper. It was like: “You want me to draw? There. I’ve drawn. Now I’m going to go out and play.” And then a picture that he drew after he started watching Phineas and all the creativity that she saw coming out of him … That makes me cry. There’s a lot of stuff like that. We’ve known the show has been over for a while. We’ve sort of been over it, and a couple weeks ago when they announced it … . I tweeted it and immediately there were hundreds of people saying wonderful things about the show. And some of them were things like: This is the show that got me through PTSD; this is the show that got me through chemo with my kid because it was the one thing that would make him smile. There were all these kind of things. And I started crying, like I’m doing right now …

Marsh: And I’m sitting there reading tweets and he calls me and says, have you been reading twitter? And I’m like (sobs), yeah.

Povenmire: For us, it’s been over for a while. We’ve been through several crying sessions. The last records with all the main characters, the last animatic, the last pitch. There’s all these lasts that happen in animation. And we’ve been through all of those. But a couple weeks ago when she sent me that, it didn’t occur to me that there’s this whole community of people and now was the first time they realized it was over … . I don’t mean to cry in front of you guys! Two years ago, we had 70 people and we were going from meeting to meeting to meeting, to animatics, to rewriting, to redrawing, doing all this stuff all day — for like eight years, it was like that. And the last year has been slowly slowing down for us because we’re no longer writing new episodes, and eventually we were just working on one story, which we haven’t been working on just one story in forever. … And we just sold this other show to Disney that they picked up called Mikey Murphy’s Law, and we’re just in the start of that right now and I can feel that ramp-up coming again, and we’re not quite in that crazy area yet because we’re just writing, but we’ve started to hire artists and stuff like that. So a month from now, we’ll just be frantic again for hopefully a long time. I feel like this is a good follow-up to Phineas because it’s a completely different show but it has the same sort of positivity that Phineas does. Mikey is a kid who is the great- great- great- great-grandchild of Murphy from Murphy’s law — whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. So whatever can go wrong does go wrong around him constantly, since he was a little kid. But just as if you were born with one arm, you learn to do everything with one hand and you don’t think of it as an imposition. By the time you’re in middle school, you’re not upset that you don’t have the other arm.

Marsh: If you ask Mikey, he’ll say he’s lucky because his life is filled with adventure and excitement everyday.

Povenmire: So he takes everything with the most absolute optimism and positivity and he puts a positive thing on it and he just copes with it as it comes because this stuff happens all the time. He’s got a backpack with a helmet and surgical tape and he’s got this sort of Mary Poppins backpack with everything in it and it’s really just about meeting adversity with optimism and positivity.

Marsh: It’s deciding how to take the things life throws at you. You can either take them as an excuse for why your life is awful or you can choose to look at them as why your life is exciting and why you’ve got the opportunity to learn and do some much.

Q: What about this show has surprised you looking back at the original intent?

Povenmire: We were surprised how well it took off, how quickly. And I think we felt like we’re funny guys, we can make funny shows. I’ve worked on a lot of shows that have become successful. But I think it took off much quicker and much bigger than we thought it would. If you’re talking about within the show, that’s a question I always ask other show runners. The question that nobody ever asks, but every show runner has an answer to this, is what character in the show ended up completely different than the way you had conceived of them? In Lost, I think it was Evangeline Lilly’s character. In Phineas it was Stacy, Candace’s best friend, who doesn’t actually appear in this (finale). We sort of pared it down to the original characters because it was such a complicated story. But Stacy ended up exactly the polar opposite of how we started with her. She was originally supposed to be a character who was going to whip Candace into a frenzy, and Ashley (Tisdale)’s voice acting had so much energy to it that it was easy to get her to that frenzy spot. But we like very quickly switched her over to being a calming influence.

Marsh: She became the voice of reason in Candace’s life.

Povenmire: But there’s a lot of things that happen over the course of a show. Major Monogram, Swampy’s character, was not supposed to be anything other than a means of exposition. A means of getting Perry’s —

Marsh: A means of getting the audience up to speed on what was going on that day with Perry, because he doesn’t talk.

Povenmire: And he became this character and somebody wrote in …

Marsh: … he has a life and he goes home early on Tuesdays …

Povenmire: … and he’s got this assistant, Carl, who works the buttons on everything. And someone had him talking off screen to Carl when something didn’t go right and then in the next episode somebody drew Carl in and there’s this sort of weird father-son thing with Carl, where he never appreciates Carl for all the stuff he does. There’s a lot of stuff like that. The whole backstory thing of Doofenshmirtz, who has all these backstories, really came from Jon Barry and Chris Headrick, who are two of our board writers, who pitched it to us thinking we would not even like it because it’s such a tangent to go on.

Marsh: The thing I’m really proud of when I look at things that folks will come up and talk to us about — the giant floating baby head, Balloony, weird catchphrases in the Monogram backstories. And there’s so much of it that came from the minds of the people that were working on the show and it’s really nice to feel like we created an environment where everyone got to contribute. Most of the really good ideas that seemed to really stick with people weren’t ours. But were created by the guys …

Povenmire: We take credit for it!

Marsh: Yes, we told them at the time, we’ll take complete credit for this thing. But that’s great, it made me feel good about the whole production part of it, that everybody got a chance to do something and make an impact. And we kind of created this little environment where people could build on all these characters and all this stuff came into it that we had never thought of.

Q: How did this episode come together? Did you have a lot of different ideas you considered?

Marsh: We had an idea for along time about doing a kind of Groundhog-y Day-ish story and so when we thought about the end, it just seemed like a really good fit.

Povenmire: It’s the last day and the last day repeats over and over. It’s sort of like getting extra days.

Marsh: I think we fulfilled a lot of people’s wishes for that last day of summer.

Povenmire: We sort of pitched this as Groundhog Day meets The Langoliers.

Marsh: Because kids really like Stephen King references.

Povenmire: From the ’80s.

Marsh: That’s what kids are all about.

Povenmire: They love references to books and things that happened before they were born.

Q: What final thought do you hope people get from the show?

Marsh: The thing that I want people that are making programs to get out of this is you can never go wrong with overestimating the intelligence of kids. That you can make cool shows that appeal to adults, teenagers, little kids, all the way on down, without being mean, without the show being filled with jerks and idiots, and that you can put big words in and it’s OK. And you can do classical music and jazz music and folk music and rock ’n’ roll and rap and all of that, and kids will get it. And if you can just stop people from dumbing down the subject matter that they feel they need to put in front of kids this whole thing will be a bigger success.

Phineas & Ferb creators - Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh

Phineas & Ferb creators – Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh

Phineas & Ferb creators - Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh

Phineas & Ferb creators – Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh

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