Are Phineas and Ferb the new Larry King? The popular Disney cartoon characters take on a talk show.
Whether you have kids or not, chances are that if you watch TV regularly you've heard of the mini Disney phenom that is "Phineas and Ferb." In the cartoon, two stepbrothers (one is a brilliant Brit, the other a spunky American) are on a constant hunt for things to do during their summer vacation, monitored by their sister Candace, and always wondering where their pet platypus (who doubles as a secret agent) is hiding.
The fun has extended a bit beyond the animated realm with "Take Two With Phineas and Ferb," a talk show in which the brothers interview real guests in a pretty quick (2-minute) format. Guest include Jack Black, Andy Samberg, Regis Philbin, Neil Patrick Harris, Taylor Swift, Randy Jackson, Seth Rogen, Emma Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer and the latest, skateboard legend Tony Hawk (8:55 p.m. Jan. 21).
Some high-profilers there, but as they've been referenced in the mainstream by everyone from Jon Stewart to CNN, the show's appeal has gone beyond its initial niche audience. The creators realized that broad appeal and have programmed the talk show to meet it.
"We looked at guests that we thought would be cool or easy to talk to and would have fun with it. And we didn't worry about whether they were going to be specific to kids or adults," said Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, co-creator of the show with Dan Povenmire.
"We wrote the show for us from Day One, and then we just don't include the stuff that would be inappropriate for kids. We kind of knew and were fairly sure that if the parents watched the show, they'd like it — because we're parents and we're writing stuff that makes us laugh," says Marsh.
"There's a lot of funny stuff that you come up with that you just can't really use in [the show's] format ... [and] there is now a venue for these weird quirky ideas that normally wouldn't go anywhere," says Marsh.
The duo came up with the original show in 1993, while they were working together on the animated "Rocco's Modern Life." But they were separated for years as they worked on other projects.
"It was one of these things where everybody who saw the show really liked it, but for one reason or another it never actually made it on the air, " says Marsh. "Thank gosh, 16 years later, when I was living over in England and Dan was over here on 'Family Guy,' Disney said they wanted to go ahead and make a pilot. Dan called me up and said, 'Are you willing to move back over here to work on "Phineas and Ferb"?' I said that sound you hear is the sound of me packing."
And the rest is animated history. The show has grown in popularity, and admirers still manage to surprise them.
"We had Ben Stiller and his wife come on to do an episode of 'Phineas and Ferb,' and they were just excited because their kids could come and watch them record," says Marsh.
Tony Hawk, who Marsh liked as a guest because kids know him and many adults have grown up with him, got some interesting questions on his episode.
— Jevon Phillips
Photo: Tony Hawk with Phineas and Ferb. Credit: Disney.