On Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb, the titular prodigies knew how to spend their summer vacation. Here are 10 things you might know about the show itself!
Welcome to 10 Things wherein we discuss 10 ‘did you know?’ facts. Whether about an actor/writer/filmmaker, even a film or TV project, we cover it all!
In this edition, we focus on Phineas and Ferb, a smash-hit Disney Channel animated series that originally aired between 2007-2015. A made-for-television film, Across The Second Dimension, premiered in 2011. Meanwhile, the characters most recently appeared in Candace Against The Universe (2020), a feature film for Disney+.
Created by Dan Povenmire and Jeff ‘Swampy’ Marsh, the smash-hit animated series Phineas and Ferb aired on Disney Channel between 2007-2015.
Fans shared a total of 222 episodes in Danville with Phineas, Ferb and the gang. Whether it was a rollercoaster, time machine or even a portal to Mars, the boys always had a good time. However, is there anything else to learn about these characters? Or, the show itself? Why, yes. Yes, there is.
10 – 13 Years In The Making
Phineas and Ferb spent 8 years on the air and took even longer to make. Why? As the story goes, it simply took a long time for people to believe in Dan Povenmire and Swampy Marsh’s eclectic idea. The two animators (who also voice Dr. Doofenshmirtz and Major Monogram, respectively) met on The Simpsons and worked together on Rocko’s Modern Life.
They originally devised Phineas and Ferb as a means of working with one another, only for no one to buy their pitch. In particular, Dan Povenmire first drew Phineas in 1993 and the concept was not sold until 2005-2006.
9 – Yes, Danville Is A Real Place (Sort Of)
Phineas and Ferb as well as its ‘spun-on’ series Milo Murphy’s Law both take place in Danville, a city in the Tri-State Area. In the show, this location is named for co-creator Dan Povenmire. The wider Jefferson County comes from the other co-creator, Jeff “Swampy” Marsh.
While Danville depicted in the series is fictitious, it is a real place name in the United States. Much like Springfield in The Simpsons, there are cities called Danville in places such as California, Kentucky, Illinois and Virginia.
8 – Irving Was Part Of The Original Cast
The show introduces Irving Du Bois (played by 30 Rock star Jack McBrayer) in later episodes of the series. The character serves as a fanboy/stalker for Phineas and Ferb. He is increasingly obsessed with the boys. However, he later becomes more of a tangential friend to the main group – an outlier, though still not really part of the core gang.
Due to his late debut, some fans may be unaware that Irving was part of the show’s original plans. He appears practically identical to his finished design in a drawing alongside Phineas, Ferb, Candace, Perry, Mom (Linda), Buford and Dr. Doofenshmirtz (then named Dr. Mittleshirtz). Ultimately, Baljeet replaced Irving in the cast.
7. Voice Cast Almost Sounded Very Different
The Phineas and Ferb voice cast combined a number of different areas. A known for Disney Channel work – Ashley Tisdale (‘Candace’, High School Musical/The Suite Life…), Alyson Stoner (‘Isabella’, Camp Rock) and Mitchel Musso (‘Jeremy’, Hannah Montana) as well as young, popular actors at the time – Vincent Martella (‘Phineas’, Everybody Hates Chris) and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (‘Ferb’, Love Actually/Nanny McPhee).
Despite how familiar all the characters sound now, it could have been completely different. In an Exclusive Interview with Courageous Nerd, Vincent Martella revealed another actor was cast as Phineas before him:
“They had already booked someone to play Phineas’ role, an adult. A very talented voiceover actor who works in plenty of things. They had re-listened to my audition and were like, “We actually think this would be better for the show.”Vincent Martella, Courageous Nerd (2021)
Mitchel Musso voiced Ferb initially before the character became British. However, Povenmire and Marsh liked Musso’s voice, so they recast him as Jeremy Johnson. Musso now had more lines despite not voicing a title character. In addition, he went from playing Candace’s step-brother to playing her boyfriend. Go figure!
6. Oliva Olson Connections
Phineas and Ferb fans know actress/singer Olivia Olson as the voice of Vanessa Doofenshmirtz. However, this is not her only connection to the show. Firstly, she starred alongside Thomas Sangster (Ferb) in the 2003 feature film Love Actually. They played Sam and Joanna respectively, budding love interests. In addition to this, her father Martin Olson wrote for Phineas and Ferb.
Taking things even further, Olson’s work on Phineas and Ferb scored her another animated gig: as Marceline on Adventure Time. The creator of that show, Pendleton Ward, heard Olson voicing Vanessa and decided she would be perfect for Marceline. So, he reached out to his friend who worked on the show. Who? None other than Martin Olson.
“Pen gets to talking with my pops about how his new series got picked up on Cartoon Network. I guess a lightbulb went off for Pen and he said something along the lines of this to my dad: “There’s a character on my show that I think one of the V/O actresses on the show you write (Phineas & Ferb) would be perfect for! She has a very similar vibe to that Vanessa Doofenshmirtz girl. Do you know that actress? Could you find her contact information?”Olivia Olson, Kingdomz X Magazine
Needless to say, Olson got that role and the rest, for both shows, was history.
5 – Origin for Major Monogram’s Voice
Anyone who’s ever watched Phineas and Ferb knows Major Monogram’s voice. Monogram’s gruff, authoritative tone delivered Agent P’s assignments in almost every episode. As already mentioned, he’s played by series co-creator Jeff ‘Swampy’ Marsh. However, the two sound nothing alike. Where did the voice come from?
As it turns out, Marsh (or ‘Swampy’) was doing an impression of a very well-known American figure: Walter Cronkite. A long-standing newsreader and broadcaster. Not unlike Monogram, Cronkite delivered crucial information to an audience. Marsh further elaborated on this inspiration in an interview with Anime Superhero:
“When I grew up, Walter Cronkite was the voice of America, the most trusted man, and when I thought of someone who would lead a super secret spy organization, he needed that kind of gravitas and trustworthiness. And I always thought Walter Cronkite was a cool dude.”Jeff ‘Swampy’ Marsh, Anime Superhero (2012)
4 – Giant Floating Baby Head Origin
Of all the fantastical elements in Phineas and Ferb, the Giant Floating Baby Head is perhaps the most unusual. It first appeared in the Season 1 episode “One Good Scare Ought To Do It!” Since then, it has inexplicably recurred throughout the series, with no in-universe reason for who or what it is.
According to the creators, this character originated from a drawing by writer/storyboard artist Mike Diederich. One of the directors, Rob Hughes liked the drawing and the Giant Floating Baby Head, therefore, became a recurring character.
3 – Love Händel = Bowling For Soup?
Many fans know about Bowling For Soup’s connection to Phineas and Ferb. In fact, they perform the opening theme tune. They even made an appearance in the Season 2 episode Phineas and Ferb’s Quantum Boogaloo. However, their role on the show extends even further than this.
In addition to his vocals, Bowling For Soup lead singer also voices ‘Danny’, the lead singer of Love Händel and a recurring character in the show. Reddick performs all of Love Händel’s songs and is the only voice actor playing a member to actually be a professional musician in real life.
2. Cast Reunions
As any voice cast does not physically appear on-screen, it’s possible for fans to be clueless as to who’s playing the characters. On Phineas and Ferb, there were actually several instances of actors who had previously worked together reuniting in Danville. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Ashley Tisdale (Candace), Alyson Stoner (Isabella) and Caroline Rhea (Linda Flynn-Fletcher) all appeared on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, in varying capacities. Tisdale was a regular as Maddie Fitzpatrick, while Stoner and Rhea had guest roles as ‘Max’ and ‘Ilsa’, respectively.
In addition, Tisdale’s High School Musical co-star Corbin Bleu (Chad Danforth) appeared in multiple episodes as Coltrane, Jeremy’s friend who later dates Candace’s friend Stacy (played by Kelly Hu).
Lastly, Rocky Horror Show creator Richard O’Brien (who voices Lawrence ‘Dad’ Fletcher) once again played opposite former co-star Tim Curry (Dr. Frank-N-Furter), who voiced Lawrence’s professional rival, Worthington Dubois. Curry had previously made other, minor appearances on the show.
1. Perry Is A Platypus For A Specific Reason
Aside from the boys, another main character is their pet platypus, Perry. Commonly known as Perry the Platypus or Agent P, his rivalry with Dr. Doofenshmirtz typically covers each episode’s ‘B’ plot, secondary to Phineas and Ferb’s inventions. It’s quite unusual to have a platypus as a pet, but the creators went this direction for a very specific reason.
The very fact that platypuses are not household pets worked in their favour. As much less is known about platypuses compared to dogs or cats, the creators decided to claim the ‘mental real estate’ of the platypus while embellishing a few details for the story. Consequently, fans of Phineas and Ferb now automatically connect ‘Platypus’ to Perry, much in the same way as people associate ‘Ogre’ with Shrek.
Phineas and Ferb come from a blended family due to co-creator Jeff ‘Swampy’ Marsh’s upbringing. He grew up in a blended family himself. While a more common concept nowadays, not many blended families had been depicted on television when he and Dan Povenmire created the show.