Phineas and Ferb is a guilty pleasure

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him at

OK, I confess.

The other day I caught myself watching “Phineas and Ferb.”

There’s nothing strange about that. Usually.

Andy and his son Ty.

Andy and his son Ty.

Ty enjoys it. I enjoy it. It’s our thing. We bond.

This time was different.

This time, I was alone.

Lori and Ty were gone and yet, Phineas and Ferb were there. On my TV.

The guys with the geometrically challenged heads had once again successfully gained all the permits and qualified for yet another loan to buy the parts needed to build the world’s largest roller coaster or lawn mower engine-powered chariots or a rocket or some other fantastic contraption.

I don’t remember exactly which episode was on, I just remember that at some point I thought to myself: How did I get caught up in this?

In my defense, I find “Phineas and Ferb” to be one of the most clever shows on TV. There are subtle pop culture references, an ’80s hair band – the wonderfully named Love Handel – oblivious parents, a crazy obsessive sister, a bumbling, rambling bad guy and a pet platypus that doubles as a secret agent.

Some of the best lines are reserved for neighborhood bully Buford and his favorite target, the brainy Baljeet.

What more can you want?

I’m not sure what Ty gains from watching it since it’s not educational, but he tends to laugh a lot and appears genuinely interested in the shenanigans.

Besides, I think it’s a nice break from his other favorites like “Dora the Explorer,” “Go, Diego, Go,” “Little Einsteins,” “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and others that that stress learning and push our kids’ thought processes.

One of the ongoing unofficial contests around our house is to see who can do the best Perry imitation. It’s a tough noise to replicate, but it’s a clicking sound that sounds something like when your car’s alternator is dead.

Try it sometime. It’ll give you something to do today.

Are you into Phineas and Ferb? What shows do you secretly like that are supposed to be for kids?

What were your favorite cartoons when you were growing up?

- By Andy Johnston, for the Momania blog

45 comments Add your comment


June 29th, 2011
6:59 am

Have you watched the Kim Possible series? It’s an older Disney cartoon that was also extremely witty.


June 29th, 2011
7:31 am

I prefer Bugs Bunny, but occasionally need a Popeye fix. The older, non-politically correct ones are hilarious. Early animation was not some cheap marketing tool, meant to get parents to buy kids stuff, like today. These cartoons were artistic creations, directed at an adult audience (Betty Boop was burlesque in the day) as shorts for movie intermissions, and were plotted for children later, with cheap foreign animation. Popey, Bugs, and many of their “contemporaries” were enlisted in the fight against the Axis powers of WW-II, with knee slapping results. Those depictions of our enemies would make the politically correct wimps of today have convulsions, but they were the enemy and fair game, because they…wanted to kill us. Yes, imagine that…people out there wanting to kill us because of….well some things haven’t changed.

As the baby boom boomed, and theatres became acceptable places to park the kids, while mom grocery shopped…serials and cartoons ruled. The migration to television, was a natural progression for both (think Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, even Flash Gordon) serials and cartoons. Along came the marketers that continue to this day in targeting parents through their kids, by way of “chidren’s programming”. It’s too bad for the kids that the animation and plot is so inferior to those of days gone by. Watch a Looney Tune and LOL.


June 29th, 2011
7:52 am

Guilty. I have been known to watch Phineas and Ferb when my 10 year old is not around. He is not a big cartoon fan, but loves this show. We think Candice is a riot and such a typical teenager with how she is always trying to get Jeremy to notice her. I like all the pop-culture references as well. It’s o.k. to “just” be entertained once in a while. Not everything has to be educational-and that’s from teacher. :)


June 29th, 2011
8:10 am

Amen shaggy! Love me some Looney Tunes! Daffy Duck was my favorite as a kid. My 6 year old has recently discovered the old Yogi Bear cartoons. She also loves old school Mickey Mouse cartoons.


June 29th, 2011
8:16 am

Bugs Bunny RULES!!!! I love the Warner Bros cartoons, Disney, etc. My all time favorite was The Pink Panther. I would get up early on Saturday, to watch that show, with my dad. Then I would go back to bed….But my guilty pleasure is the Penguins of Madagascar. They are hysterical. I will also sit and watch SpongeBob….

Rugrats and The Fairly Odd Parents were the rage when my daughter was younger, and I liked them back then.


June 29th, 2011
8:41 am

Another Bugs fan here..who can ever forget “The Rabbit of Seville”? Opera with Bugs can’t be beat:)


June 29th, 2011
8:46 am

As most here know, I am not a TV person. I recently read that people watch an average of 6 hours per day of TV. I laughed as I may not watch 6 hours in a week. Guess I am weird. Some here just said AMEN :)

My husband spent countless hours watching Mr. Rogers, when our son was very small. We both saw him in person, before he passed, at a conference. No, he was not flamboyant but a delightfully kind soul who gave children a soft voice and a loving spirit. I met a director from the show and she told me that adults had written him letters to tell him that ( as a child) his show was a bright spot in their otherwise tempestuous day. Their home life was not good. What a wonderful man whose love for children was evident.

We still tease my son about Darkwing Duck. He loved those shows as did Dad. Our daughter watched Comfy Couch. Does anyone remember those shows?


June 29th, 2011
9:05 am

6 hours of tv a day? That sounds about right in my house……I start watching, or at least turn the tv on, when I get home, usually around 5:00. And it’s pretty much on until I go to bed, around 10-11:00. I’m not watching it all that time, but I do have it on. I like to listen to a show while I’m cooking.

Now during Football season, YEA, it’s on ALLLLLLLLLLLLL day long on Sundays……

Tad Jackson

June 29th, 2011
9:13 am

Spongebob Squarepants for me … you know … for the life lessons. But I miss not seeing Samurai Jack, too.


June 29th, 2011
9:38 am

From past to present, Road Runner, Johnny Bravo, and The Barn Yard!!

Andy Johnston

June 29th, 2011
9:46 am

Scooby Doo was my favorite growing up, and then as I got older, I liked a lot of the superhero cartoons that started popping up.


June 29th, 2011
9:49 am

You’re not alone. I did the same thing yesterday while my 8-yo was at camp. Phineas and Ferb is not only clever, but makes geekdom and creativity kind of cool. I had to laugh when you talked about imitating Perry the Platypus. I do an okay Perry, but my Baljeet voice is perfect, according to my son. (”I did not know that you even brought a swordfish!!”) Pretty scary that a 49-yo can quote a cartoon, huh?

Beth Wiechman

June 29th, 2011
9:58 am

Rocky and Bullwinkle. But Shaggy needs to be reminded that Disney caharacters all made movies to support the war effort. Theodore Siesel, Dr. Suess, was also enlisted in war efforts. Commercialization is what allows entertainment to continue. As children, we’re just immersed into entertainment. We only become concerned with commecialization when we get older and jaded. The cartoon charcters can’t be judged by the efforts of adults in their environments. But I love the fact that I can and do have beanies of all the Rocky and Bullwinkle characters. Finished full circle.


June 29th, 2011
10:13 am

Don’t forget the Peanuts gang. I love their holiday shows….


June 29th, 2011
10:18 am

@ JJ… I do watch Peanuts. Our son had a speech issue when he was a toddler and he would say,
“TOOPY” instead of ‘SNOOPY”. It was precious ( to us) but obviously he needed Speech Therapy to correct it and that was what we did!


June 29th, 2011
10:42 am

Richie Rich, Betty & Veronica, Flintstones, Scooby Doo, Casper and The Jetsons were some of my favorites. My girls were glued to every Barnie espisode and I found myself watching it at times when they were out. And like JJ, always loved Snoopy!


June 29th, 2011
10:43 am

Do you guys remember all the comics for these? We didn’t get the greatest reception in the mountains but my grandma bought me all the comics.

Oh, there you are Perry!

June 29th, 2011
10:45 am

My wife and I will often sit down and watch Phineas and Ferb when our daughter isn’t home. It’s a cleverly written show with many subtle references that you actually have to think about. As someone mentioned above, Fairly Odd Parents was also a great show that adults could enjoy.

However I’m surprised no one has mentioned Animaniacs. Now that was a show that was slammed full of humor, innuendo, and historical references. There were jokes in many of those that you had to have a solid education to catch.

Luckily my daughter is also a big Looney Toons fan. I have several of the box sets and will sit with her and watch a bunch of them. I find it funny that they have to put a disclaimer on some of the cartoons stating how the politically incorrect depictions were part of the times but still weren’t appropriate.

Oh, there you are Perry!

June 29th, 2011
10:46 am

Oh and how could we forget School House Rock?! Can you actually say the Preamble to the Constitution or do you have to sing it?


June 29th, 2011
11:02 am

We LOVE Phineas and Ferb at our house! We have a 5 year old, but his two year old brother requests it quite often. The other big two are Spongebob (and I do enjoy watching that as well as P&B) and Scooby Doo. Scooby was and is my all-time favorite and I’m delighted my kids are so into it! Looney Tunes, Popeye and Tom and Jerry are biggies at our house too. I’m so happy my kids enjoy the classics. They do have to pick and choose though because they’re only allowed an hour per day-max-and we try to have some tv-free days! The oldest is fascinated with Ben 10 as well.

Personally I have maybe watched 10 hours of tv in the last 3 months. I have many shows I love and DVR, but I just haven’t been into it lately. I purely despise daytime tv of any variety and wonder why anyone would watch it unless sick or hospitalized when there are so many other things to do. As far as educational cartoons and kid’s shows -that’s great if they are, but there’s something to be said for pure entertainment with no message or lesson to impart.


June 29th, 2011
11:23 am

So, we just cancelled DirecTV in our house. No more TV. We have Netflix on the Wii and a Roku and that pretty much does the trick for us. Damn thing doesn’t come on except for the weekends, anyway.

However, whenever we did sit and watch a bit of cartoons Phin and Ferb were one of the better ones. But my 10 year old and I REALLY like Chowder.

Rada-rada-rada Rada.


June 29th, 2011
11:46 am

No clue on this one. I was completely addicted to Electric Company (with Rita Moreno and Morgan Freeman on it) when I was about 30. It had parts that really would appeal to adults’ sense of humor, but my children loved it as well. I also loved the Muppett Show.


June 29th, 2011
11:46 am

We’re big fans of Avatar the Last Airbender in my house. It’s all reruns now, and I’ve seen them all 15 times, but still find them funny. I have to admit that when my son leaves the room, I don’t change the channel if those are on.


June 29th, 2011
11:51 am

Oh–our fifth grade did School House Rock Live. It was so terrific, and everyone learned so much! Even our sped kids learned the words to many of the songs, and loved to sing them! ALL the time!

Cartoons when I was little included Superman and Tom and Jerry, along with Roadrunner and the one with that Rooster with a speech problem. Oh, and Rocky and Bullwinkle with Boris and Natasha!


June 29th, 2011
11:53 am

Awww The Muppet Show. We used to watch that show as a family when I was young.

I recently got the first season of the Muppet Show on DVD. Hilarious!!!!!

Andy Johnston

June 29th, 2011
12:00 pm

JAYN: Pretty awesome that you can imitate Baljeet. Must make your kids proud.


June 29th, 2011
12:01 pm

and just think, the supreme court used cartoons violence as a reason why they didn’t restrict the sale of violent video games to children. they showed clip on evening news of bugs bunny cartoon.

geez….we knew the difference of cartoon vs. real world.


June 29th, 2011
12:21 pm

Beth Wiechman

The Bullwinkle Show…now, THAT’S Entertainment. Weren’t Dudley Doright cartoons on that show?
Then, there were George of the Jungle, which me and my friends renamed “Frank of the Forest”, along with profane ad-libbed theme song lyrics. Yes, I was bad, but you moms already know that.
I never was much of a Disney kid, too tame, except for Fantasia. That still stands as a great piece of animation art.


June 29th, 2011
12:22 pm

Old and new cartoons (and a few other kids programs) I like to watch at 25 yrs old (no children)

Hanna-Barbera / Cartoon Network/ Warner Bros.
Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, Tom & Jerry, Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, Captain Planet, SWAT Kats, Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Codename: Kids Next Door, The Grim Adventures of Bill and Mandy, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends (love Blue), Ben 10, Tiny Tunes Adventures, Taz-Mania, The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, Pinky and the Brain, Freakazoid, Batman, Superman, Batman Beyond, Static Shock, Justice League, Looney Tunes, Baby Looney Tunes, Johnny Test, Scooby-Doo! Mysery Incorporated, The Looney Tunes Show

Doug, Rugrats, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Hey Arnold, CatDog, The Fairly OddParents, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, All Grown Up!, Avatar: The Last Airbender

DuckTales, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Gargoyles, Doug, Recess, House of Mouse, The Legend of Tarzan, Kim Possible, Lilo & Stitch, American Dragon: Jake Long, The Care Bears, Darkwing Duck, The Proud Family

Arthur, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Dragon Tails, Liberty’s Kids, The Magic School Bus, Reading Rainbow, Sesame Street, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Wishboone

Yu-gi-oh, Naruto, Naruto Shippuden, Dragon Ball (DB), DB Kai, DB Z, DB GT, Sailor Moon, InuYasha


June 29th, 2011
12:57 pm

Of the younger kids shows, Blues Clues (steve only) and Backyardigans are still family favorites. I remember finding myself watching the rest of a BC episode when my oldest had fallen asleep. Even my husband would get caught up in the show if he happened to be walking past when we were watching it.

Guess I need to consider watching Phin and Ferb. I tend to be pretty cautious with Disney Channel stuff because so much of it is completely inane. Even watching a minute or two of Suite Life makes me want to throw the TV out the window. I haven’t really wanted to add another show to their list of ones they want to DVR.

Right now, for cartoons, my kids watch mainly action cartoons (super heroes, pokemon) or Looney Tunes. We also own Electric company, Muppet Show, Schoolhouse Rock which they can watch any time. When they get the chance to watch Boomerang, they love The Banana Splits, Yogi Bear and other old ones. Liberty Kids is another good show when we get the chance to see it.

@myopinion – I loved Wishbone and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego when I was in my 20’s (before kids). I keep hoping those will come on one of the kids channels showing old cartoons but they haven’t yet.


June 29th, 2011
1:23 pm

Oh yeah…Wishbone…now, that was a fun show!

@ catlady, I remember Electric Company too!

Tad Jackson

June 29th, 2011
1:36 pm

“Dragon Tales” has the best musical and lyrical intro.


June 29th, 2011
1:38 pm

Wishbone? Wasn’t he that cute little Jack Russel Terrior who solved mysteries?

Tonya C.

June 29th, 2011
1:45 pm

Hangs head in shame…The Penguins of Madgascar. Along with Phineas and Ferb, one of my favorite cartoons right now. When I get stressed I will actually watch the episodes On Demand. Truly a great guilty pleasure.


June 29th, 2011
1:51 pm

my all time favorites when I was a kid were Gummie Bears and Smurfs. I use to love watching Dora and Blue Clues when my neice was younger…but can’t say I ever did it when she wasn’t around.


June 29th, 2011
2:01 pm

My daughter and I watch Phineas and Ferb. It shows that science, math, and engineering are cool! Oh I hope she can build some of those things when she is a little older

I watched The Muppets (I can still sing the opening song!), Sesame Street, the Electric Company, Scobby Doo, and Wylie Coyote and the Road Runner as a kid.

No I don’t watch cartoons when she is not around. Its sports or HGTV.

Alan-Michael White

June 29th, 2011
2:49 pm

I’ll be honest, my favorite part of the show is how much work clearly goes into each episode. Very rarely do they ever phione it in. The writing is highbrow, it expects a certain level of prerequisite knowledge to understand the word play and jokes. They really don’t make shows like that anymore, for adults or kids.


June 29th, 2011
3:01 pm

I know this is a light-hearted post, but I think TV time should be very limited with toddlers and young children, if at all. Don’t get me wrong, I watched a ton of TV growing up – pretty much any cartoon that was on unless it was for girls, and despite what some say, I turned out relatively okay. But my wife and I have chosen to limit TV for our daughter (now 3). She watches a 15 minute short cartoon (typically Clifford or Busytown Mysteries) every other day or so, if she’s been well behaved. The TV has essentially been off since she’s been born.

Aside from research indicating detrimental effects of TV watching (one link below), we just find it completely unnecessary. When she was a baby, TV wasn’t necessary as she started exploring her world. She found new things around the house fascinating. We asked ourselves why we should introduce TV if she’s captivated by her world? We should foster that imagination as she grows instead of watching TV.

We are also trying to teach her to entertain herself, have an independent imagination, and be patient without the need for TV, video games, etc. It’s not easy, especially at the end of a tough day, when it would be much easier to plop her in front of Blues Clues while we make dinner or other household chores. We’ve had to get creative at times coming up with activities when she’s bored and is still trying to figure out how to play independently. But we’re hoping it will make pay off down the road.

Who knows, we could be screwing her up :)


June 29th, 2011
3:45 pm

tvboy, I admire parents who can find creative things to do with their children besides anything electronic. It is certainly not popular, in today’s world. Kudos to you!

Beth Wiechman

June 29th, 2011
3:54 pm

As a teacher, I watch my grandchildren as they watch television. It’s amazing the interaction. Since the advent of Sesame Street and the resulting research showing the positive impact television can have on mental development, I’m glad to see networks trying to include as much interaction and emphasis on education as possible. Many of the children in improvished situations do spend an inordinate, unmonitored time in from of the television. I’m glad to see Mickey Mouse having kids tell him the shape that is necessary, and Dora and Diego exploring, sequencing, and helping kids make inferences. Many of our kids in today’s world have no one else to help them do these things. So many kids are years behind others in being prepared for school, so I’m glad networks are stepping up to the plate and taking on this responsibility. As the P&F, they show kids that they can accomplish anything, and there is no reason to sit around and just be bored. I hold an Ed.S. and attribute a lot of the information that I needed to get through school as having come from cartoons and comic books. Another skill desired in school is student with the ability to problem solve. P&F model this in spades. Not having parents who enjoyed classical music, I fully credit cartoons for introducing the wonderfully rich musical environment for me to experience as I grew up. Idioms? Again, cartoons are full of rich figurative language. That’s why we, adults, enjoy them. Did I monitor things which I allowed my daughters watched? Just ask Andy’s wife – she’s one of them. BTW she turned out pretty terrifically.


June 29th, 2011
6:19 pm

Beth, There certainly are good shows on TV. On the whole, however, my experience in education (38 years) and personal educational level (BS., MS, MS, PhD) do not support the general kind of TV watching that the families I work with seem to allow. Certainly kids can, with adult support, learn significant things from TV. I would guess that your experience with choosing TV programs (and mine) are not typical of most families. Many, many kids I have known and worked with over the years have been exposed to the most horrific TV shows, with no support or adult choosing at all.

I took a survey of my parents one year (back when parents readily responded to inquiries) to find out what my kids were watching. This was the year of the Holocaust on TV, and a significant number of “my kids”, age 6, had been allowed free range to watch it. (Remember smashing the baby’s head against the wall? ) They had also watched some pretty graphic parts of Roots. This type of “selection” continues today. My kids at school get this type of guidance: “Sit down, shut up, and don’t bother me. I am tired.” Not what your kids or mine got either, I am sure. And not a lot of learning of the type you describe.

My children were allowed a half hour of TV every Saturday morning. They learned problem solving from negotiating with each other. They were also allowed pretty much free range on public TV. When I did not like the direction TV was taking, we went “cold turkey” for 5 years with no TV. Instead we played board games, read, took family walks, and performed volunteer activities. I can truly say that they learned more out of that than a legion of TV shows!

What can kids learn from “children’s shows” now? Well, if I had small ones, and if I allowed them to watch, I would talk to them about marketing and sexism, for example. If they are too young to understand that, I would be very concerned about what they might be getting, and would “check out” the program carefully first.

2 of my grandchildren live in a TV-free house. The other 2 live in a pretty carefully-monitored home. I know they get Max and Ruby and Veggie Tales (are these videos or shows?) But, as I said in opening, my family is not typical. We can never assume that “our” way of doing ANYTHING is the same as others, and I believe TV use varies greatly, frequently (but not always) by SES and parental education levels.

I know, as a teacher, I wish more parents were more selective about the sheer trash they let their pre-adolescent children watch. Listening to the kids talk, to the examples they give, would shock most educational researchers!


June 29th, 2011
6:44 pm

shaggy said it well! MJG–i doubt i watchm 6 bhours of tv a year!! except for the 2 years i got addicted to ai…grr..never again!!! i do read a lot…probably 2-4 books a week. i wouldnt even have tv if not for the kids…and they rarely watch it either…wasted money imo!


June 30th, 2011
1:00 am

Why is TV a waste of time, but reading or blogging are great uses of it?


June 30th, 2011
10:48 am

Brain Tips by Mark Sisson:

“If you want to keep your brain sharp, you have to keep those neurons firing. A good goal if you aren’t in the reading habit is one book per month. After a few months, see if you can step it up to one book per week. Television is passive while reading is active.”

“It’s a great idea to do crossword puzzles, games, quizzes, memory tests, and other mind-twisters. Even online computer games and Sudoku puzzles are fun ways to keep your brain active and sharp.”

Blogging…guilty as charge but it appears to be more active. To me, first you have to read and then formulate your response.


July 1st, 2011
12:26 pm

i am 45 and married. i love phineas and ferb. started watching it one day because of the name. now i am hooked. no kids at home just watched by myself and laughed so much. now i have a 7 mos grandson to watch with. he likes the vivid colors.