Sunday, February 18, 2018

We Need More 'Gravity Falls'

I first became aware of Gravity Falls last year, when the Youtuber MatPat discussed on one of his shows, Film Theory, how it is connected to Rick and Morty.  Not only did he make a compelling case for it, but in the process, he also introduced enough details about the show to entice me to check it out.

The animated series, which ran from 2012 to 2016, revolves around 12-year-old twins Dipper and Mabel Pines.  Despite the different personalities – Dipper is an awkward, smart, inquisitive, and savvy boy, while Mabel is a bubbly, na├»ve, free-spirited, and creative girl – they are tight.  They are sent by their parents to spend the summer with their great-uncle Stan Pines – whom they affectionately call “Grunkle Stan” – in Gravity Falls, Oregon, in which he runs a tourist trap called “The Mystery Shack.”

Soon, the Pines twins discover that the town and its surroundings hold tons of weird secrets.  With the help of an enigmatic journal that Dipper stumbled upon, they spend the summer – along with Soos, the Mystery Shack’s slow-witted but sweet handyman; Wendy, a teenage part-timer in the Mystery Shack whom Dipper has a crush on; Grunkle Stan; and other friends – looking into the town’s mysteries and going on various, crazy adventures.
Gravity Falls is a delightful mix of mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, and even horror.  Various paranormal, supernatural, and science fiction elements are covered.   Basically, it’s like the quirky, vivacious, kiddie version of The X-Files and Twin Peaks.  The show did gnomes, ghosts, aliens, unicorns, inter-dimensional beings, time travel, cloning, AI, secret societies, black magic, and shape-shifters, to name some on top of my head.  It’s extensive and diverse with its featured genre themes.

It’s a kids’ show that adults will find funny and entertaining.  However, it’s no Rick and Morty.  It’s still considerably “kids’-sized”; it may initially feel too simple and silly that it will not immediately grip more mature audiences.  In fact, though it only has two seasons and 40 episodes , I wasn’t able to finish the series by binging it.  I started watching it late last year, but I only finished it this month.  I just watched episodes whenever I had residual free time – watching it “in between” other stuff.

That said, I did get engrossed with it, especially during the second season.  At that point, it started having more drama, the mythology was becoming richer, and the characters were getting developed and fleshed out brilliantly; it got darker, more complex, more poignant, and more intriguing – appealing to my adult tastes.  Thus, once it ended, I got sad.  I wanted more.
I love Gravity Falls.  It’s not as terrific as adult-oriented cartoons like Rick and Morty and The Venture Bros., but as an animated series intended for children, it’s extremely rewarding nonetheless.  It’s probably the best conceptualized and best written kids’ cartoon in the 21st century (I welcome recommendations to challenge this notion).

Seriously, though the three-part finale was epic and perfect as a series wrap-up, more episodes need to be made.  Or, at least, a movie.  As a show – as a premise – it still has a lot of mileage.

Plus, that Gravity Falls/Rick and Morty crossover special needs to happen.

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