Time to take a brief break from Red Dwarf and go from three million years in deep space to the year 2012 in the state of Oregon, for one of the greatest shows to come out in the past year.
I am proud to say that I love Gravity Falls dearly. It really is one of the first shows in a decent while (since The Simpsons) that I will watch if it is on, and will watch a new episode as much as possible. It is on Disney Channel and on iTunes, so if you want to take a quick look, go crazy. The show contains so many elements of comedy, drama, science fiction, mystery, fantasy, action, every genre is mocked and yet embraced. Alex Hirsch has really created a masterpiece.
The show currently has 15 episodes knocked down. As of this writing, we have just seen episode 16, “Carpet Diem”, which was a good episode. A second season is currently in the offing.
The show is set in the mountain town of Gravity Falls, Oregon, where twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent by their parents to hang out over the summer with their shop-owning Great-Uncle Stan. They wind up trapped in a series of conspiracies that affect their lives.
Much like I did with Red Dwarf, we may as well take a look at these characters.
Our main protagonist is Dipper Pines, played by Jason Ritter (the son of the late “Three’s Company” star, John Ritter). Imagine Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf is he was less of an obsessive, self-centered jerk. He thinks that his summer is not going to go well, until he finds a book in the middle of the forest, containing all of the secrets of the area, including Gnomes, Zombies, ghosts, and all of that jazz. The viewer gets to see him as he takes on these mystical creatures, and note how his character develops, and how he comes of age. He gets his first romance, gets to meet a historical figure that never was, makes clones of himself, etc. etc. He is not perfect: he tends to over-analyze and can be quite cynical and has moments of selfishness. He also is a bit more feminine than he would like to let on (He sings DISCO in the shower). However, this makes the character more relatable to the audience.
It is in this spirit where the character Mabel Pines can be compared to. Played by Daily Show correspondent Kirsten Schaal, Mabel is the Id to Dipper’s Superego: the bright, cheery, happy foil to Dipper’s more analytical, cynical persona. She is a character that runs purely on emotional desire. While this is nothing new, Mabel comes more into her own, being quirky, yet still having a small sense of responsibility, and being quite selfless. She also is a wonderful example of how a female character can be tough and more action-oriented, yet still not be extraordinarily tomboyish. (Her desire over the summer is to have an “epic summer romance”, and she has a large sweater collection, yet she is able to beat up a bunch of gnomes. More on that later)
|He wears a fez. Fezzes are cool.
The two have to live over the summer with Grunkle Stan, played by creator Alex Hirsch himself. Imagine Mr. Krabs if he was human. And ran a tourist trap instead of a restaurant. And if he was a semi-decent boss. (Emphasis on the semi). Either way, he’s still a colossal scam artist. It is revealed at the end of the 1st episode that he may be hiding something. But, what could it be? Who knows?
Well, let’s move on to two other characters in the show that, while not getting the development of the prior three, also play a decent role in the show. We have Soos (also played by Hirsch), who is the total kiss-up to Stan. Imagine if TV’s Frank from Mystery Science Theatre 3000 was more of a man-child. And had a big old question mark on his shirt.
Wendy (played by Freaks and Geeks alumnus Linda Cardellini) herself seems to take on the role of the “typical teenager” that many shows have tried, and failed (I’m looking at you, Family Guy) to capture. To be more specific, I like to compare her somewhat to Dave Lister from Red Dwarf. Unlike Dipper, who is shown in many episodes to be more feminine and awkward, Wendy has more tomboyish traits to her persona, such as hanging out with predominantly male friends, lazing around, throwing pine cones at objects, etc, and she also seems much more comfortable with who she is. Dipper falls head over heels with her, in a subplot that can best be summed up with a certain song.
Fun fact: British radio DJ John Peel once gave that song a score of 27. Out of 5.
Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. Uh, I will begin reviewing new Gravity Falls episodes soon. Whatever.