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The Phineas and Ferb Effect
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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Phineas and Ferb Effect brings together the characters from Milo Murphy's Law and Phineas and Ferb, all of whom share a hometown in their respective series. The story blends the best of all three titular characters -- optimistic Milo's severe misfortune as the descendant of the man for whom Murphy's Law was named, and Phineas and Ferb's perpetual good luck in their harebrained schemes -- into a crossover special that's geared toward fans of both shows. The story takes off running without introducing either the characters or the setting, so newcomers to the cast members' identities and relationships will feel a little lost. Expect a lot of action involving oversized plantlike monsters who don human identities and turn some people into plants themselves, but no real violence. If this is your kids' introduction to any of these characters, know that this fun mix of personalities will encourage them to seek out more of their separate escapades.
What's the story?
In THE PHINEAS AND FERB EFFECT, Danville's most famous residents meet at long last just in time to join forces against a Pistachion army bent on taking over humans' identities. While Cavendish (voiced by Jeff "Swampy" Marsh) and Dakota (Dan Povenmire) encourage Dr. Doofenshmirtz (Povenmire again) to perfect his time machine so they can go back in history to seek a solution there, Milo ("Weird Al" Yankovic), Zack (Mekai Curtis), and Melissa (Sabrina Carpenter) team up with new acquaintances Phineas (Vincent Martella), Ferb (David Errigo Jr.), Candace (Ashley Tisdale), Baljeet (Maulik Pancholy), and Buford (Bobby Gaylor) to build a machine they can use to combat the invasion in present day. As usual, Milo's familial bad luck seems destined to doom the counterattack, but could the positive energy of Phineas and Ferb's traditionally good fortune be enough to balance out the team's overall chances against the bigger and stronger Pistachions?
Is it any good?
Since Milo Murphy's Law popped up in Danville after Phineas and Ferb stopped production, fans have been anticipating the requisite crossover episode. The good news? It was worth the wait. Everything viewers love about perpetually optimistic Milo and supremely lucky Phineas and Ferb is on full display here, and the intermixing of the two character pools really is a lot of fun. With Dr. Doofenshmirtz a common factor in both shows, there's consistency and rapport on either side of the series divide, and the writers clearly had much fun intermingling the characters while poking fun that they've not met in their shared hometown before now.
Milo's propensity for calamities continues to plague him in small ways (a white board spontaneously combusts in front of him) and big (duct work falls from the ceiling and crushes one of Dr. Doofenshmirtz's inventions), but it never tarnishes his optimism or his determination to be ready for anything life throws at him. His new friends, like his old ones, embrace him not in spite of this seeming dark cloud but because of the resourcefulness it has bred in him, making him a valued member of the team. Pair that with Phineas and Ferb's inexplicable knack for making things work (and, of course, Perry's silent contributions), and this crossover is all kinds of fun. That said, it can be a challenge for viewers who haven't seen either series (or both) to identify the characters and follow their interactions given that The Phineas and Ferb Effect jumps right into the story without offering any background or introductions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the existence or absence of leadership in this story. Do any characters step up to organize the others, or is it more of a free for all? In either case, how well does the process work? With so many moving parts at play (Phineas and Ferb, Milo and Candace, Dr. Doofenshmirtz and the team traveling back in time), would better leadership be advantageous in a real-world scenario?
Milo's optimism is one of his most valuable qualities. How does it help him overcome challenges he faces? In what ways does it inspire his friends? In what instances have you experienced the value of a positive attitude? What other character strengths do you see in the characters?
Kids: Were you familiar with both sets of characters before this crossover? If so, did this story meet your expectations and allow both sides to shine? If not, are you interested in watching further adventures of either Milo Murphy's Law or Phineas and Ferb (or both)? How are we influenced by what we see on TV, both in ads and in series and movies? Is this necessarily a bad thing?
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