Wednesday, December 9, 2015

RR Gravity Falls

Welcome to Gravity Falls!

Remember, in Gravity Falls, there is no one you can trust...

Name: Gravity Falls Vol. 1: Six Strange Tales + Gravity Falls Vol. 2: Even Stranger
Created by Alex Hirsch
Original run 2012-2013
Genre Action/Adventure/Comedy/Science-Fiction/Fantasy/Mystery animated series

Who dares to say Western animation is dead in this day and age? Anyone that says that must not have ever seen any current cartoon!

The last few years have seen a renaissance of animated series led by Cartoon Network's very own Adventure Time, Regular Show and Steven Universe or even a few great [adult swim] shows. But Disney is not far behind catching up.

Disney's Gravity Falls was created by animator Alex Hirsch. Like Adventure Time's Pendleton Ward and Regular Show's J.G. Quintel, Alex Hirsch worked before on the 2008 Cartoon Network Studios series The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack with them. 

This storyboard artist was given the opportunity to pitch his own show for Disney Television. With Gravity Falls he was finally able to produce a show of his own and even voices a lot of his characters.

Gravity Falls first aired on the Disney Channel through its first 2012-2013 Season 1, before moving recently on Disney XD during the 2nd $eason.

The story revolves around two 12 years old twins. For their summer vacation, Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent to live with their "Great Uncle" Stan Pines, simply called Grunkle Stan, in the town of Gravity Falls, Oregon. But the duo soon finds out the small town is not what it seems... 

One day while Mabel was chasing some boys around, Dipper finds this mysterious journal hidden in the forest, decorated by a strange 6-fingered hand numbered with a "3" on the front cover.

From then on the twins go on all kinds of adventures, discovering a side of Gravity Falls most inhabitants seem completely obvious to. Plus Grunkle Stan doesn't seem to believe in these creatures they find, instead focusing his time on the fraudulent tour of his "Mystery Shack" tourist trap!

Dipper and Mable are joined by several unique characters such as Wendy Corduroy, Dipper's first crush who works at the Shack, Soos Ramirez, the local handyman, plus all sorts of other corloful figures!

The fight all kinds of perils including gnomes disguised as a zombie, minotaurs, ghosts, video game sprites and many more! The show also quickly introduces one of their main recurring antagonists, Li’l Gideon, a little boy psychic after the Mystery Shack. But they can always count on the mysterious journal.

Remember, "Trust no one."

The show was very much inspired by Alex Hirsch's own childhood memories. The time her remembers spending with his own actual twin sister during the summer vacations.

The show is full of these little details brought from real life experiences. Even stuff like going trick-or-treating in the middle summer. For example Alex's twin sister, Ariel Hirsch always wanted to get a pig as a pet, so he just gave Mabel one like she always dreamed of!

Growing up as a huge fan of The Simpsons, Alex Hirsch always saw a lot of potential in animation, which can often come up with funnier results and offers so much rich possibilities than live action.

He wanted to make a cartoon that would not be just for kids. The series of his dreams. While giving it a lot of fantasy elements keeping the characters very much grounded and the interaction between them the main focus. 

After having worked as a writer and storyboard artist for Cartoon Network, he jumped on the chance to develop an animated series for Disney. Gravity Falls was pitched with a very simple (and so far unaired and never released to the public) animated short, which got the show quickly greenlight.

Like most of Cartoon Network's current big shows, Gravity Falls is very much plot-driven. The main focus of the season gives the structure for the overal arching plot and then the episodes are broken into smaller tales pitched by the various writers.

It still boils down to the usual monster-of-the-week formula while slowly but surely uncovering the whole truth behind Gravity Falls.

The show is produced like most CN productions, each storyboard artists able to work in their own jokes and gags here and there.

Gravity Falls also features stellar great voice acting from a fantastic ensemble cast.

Our main characters are brilliantly voiced by Jason Ritter and the hilarious comedian Kristen Schaal (30 Rock). They basically lead the whole show, much of the series' strength is built on their performances as Dipper and Mabel respectively. The rest of the cast is rounded by great actors such as the lovely Linda Cardellini as Wendy and Hirsch doing most of the main voices from Grunkle Stan to Soos, the Old Man McGucket, Bill Cipher and several other additional voices! We also get other surprising choices that ended up working so well, like T.J. Miller, Frank Welker, John DiMaggio, Niki Yang, Will Forte, John Oliver, and Alex Hirsch's friend and the animator behind the other great animated series Rick and Morty Justin Roiland playing a time traveler by the name of Blendin Blandin

It seems good cartoons are everywhere these days, no only on Cartoon Network anymore. [adult swim]'s been having a revival of its own since it launched the Venture Bros. And now Disney's been pushing great original productions like this, Motorcity or more recently Star vs. the Forces of Evil.

Gravity Falls has great character designs, full of personality. In a way, it's really the type of show you wouldn't expect from Disney, it has such a different style from their usual productions. It's closer to Cartoon Network's.

I see it as a true successor to old clever cartoons such as Dexter's Laboratory or the Powerpuff Girls. Combining humor, adventure and fantasy!

The series quickly developed a huge overarching complex mythology. As intriguing as some of the best live action shows you see on big networks. 

The easy comparison is to complex some of bestr shows. easier comparison David Lynch's Twin Peaks, in fact Gravity Falls contains a ton of references to it from the opening theme to a few key characters an episodes. But I kind of think the best equivalent to Gravity Falls would be if LOST was an animated series. (And I'm saying that in a good way. Don't let your own feeling regarding how LOST ended cloud your judgment, it did had the same type of episodic nature and overarching mystery always pushing the show moving forward.)

There's an entire meta aspect around the show, Alex Hirsch has developed entire ciphers and enigmas for the fans to solve, with hidden pictures and codes foreshadowing the direction of the show and all kinds of mysteries and symbols which are huge with the fanbase.

The show also makes a great use of a lot of inside jokes and allusions for grownup to enjoy. There's even one classic obscure reference to a more mature [adult swim] cartoon, linking Gravity Falls to Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon'ss Rick and Morty!!

Gravity Falls is really good!

It's a very clever show, easily some of the best TV I enjoyed nowadays, in my eyes! 

It's a show that is never afraid to scare its young audience, it can play some frightening creepy and downright disturbing creatures a few times! Alex Hirsch and his team never shy from pushing the limits of what a cartoons can do!

And finally let's also mention the gorgeous music composed by Brad Breeck for the show! The music is simply gorgeous to listen during and after the episode, I kind of wish Disney will release a proper soundtrack at some point!

Definitively inspired by retro gaming much like its Cartoon Network brethren. 

The opening theme is simply gorgeous to listen to and defines the tone of the entire series!

The first Season laste for about 20 episodes, from 2012 to 2013. Season 2 appears to aim for 20 episodes as well.

Outside of digital releases, they only released the first 14 episodes of Season 1 on two DVD-sets. "Six Strange Tales" containing only the first 6 episodes and "Even Stranger" with the following 8. It's only missing the last 6, I kind of wish they'd just gone with a complete release...

A lot of ground is covered in those first few episodes. After a brief opening Dipper and Mabel face some gnomes, encounter a sea monster, battle wax figures, get introduced to a psychic kid named Lil' Gideon. After that Dipper tries to hang out with Wendy and her friends in an haunted shop, goes on a quest for manliness, and even makes some paper clones of himself! They discover the truth about the town's founder, get into an epic adventure with a time travel's through all past episodes so far, release an 8-bit fighting game character in real life. They also get to celebrate Halloween despite the show's summer-timeframe with a "Summerween" celebration. Grunkle Stan goes on a TV game show and we finally get the first anthology episode with a bottomless pit which is just an excuse for having each character tell a short story.

Speaking of, the first DVD also got accompanied with a small preview of a real life copy of Book 3! I kinda wish they kept doing that for the next releases... Actually, I just hope they make proper season-set for home video...

Gravity Falls has great character you can relate to. It's a show filled with Alex Hirsch's unique imagination. It has a ton of puzzles to solve, recurring jokes and season-long mysteries and more! It's both episodic and perfectly suited for story-driven season-long story arcs, perfect to revisit the show later on!

It's also one of the funniest cartoons I've seen, and I've seen a lot of them, and it has a lot of heart.

No surprise the entire cast and crew of the show was nominated and even received a few awards in so little time since it first began, for great animation, great acting, great direction and great production values!

Overall,Gravity Falls is such a fantastic great unique gorgeous and awesome show! It's clever, honest and unique in every sense of the term! It's a collaborative work by very talented people. With great mystery and suspense, and quality animation. 

It's simply A Must Watch, and of course comes Highly Recommended!! 

As I write these lines the show's actually already coming to an end. Just like Over the Garden Wall, it was never meant to last long and was always supposed to only cover one single summer vacation, which was already stretched through 2 Seasons-worth of episodes. So far only the first few episodes have been released on home video, but they're all available for download on several streaming services.

Season 2 shook things up by giving us a lot more mysteries, but also some actual answers including the author of the book - voiced by no other than J. K. Simmons!!

The show was quickly renewed for a 2nd Season, but like Alex Hirsch confirmed not long ago turns out Season 2 will come to an end with the series finale next year, with a 1-hour long special titled "Weirdmageddon 3" in 2016. If anything it allows Alex Hirsch to still be in control of his creation and end the series perfectly, with the show having solved all of its mysteries, properly wrapping up without fear of cancellation and no loose ends left.

My only complaint is that the show desperately needs some more merchandise outside a couple of figures. You hear that Disney?? This was your highest-rated series in ages!

A video game was just released for Nintendo 3DS this past month though.

I give it:
3 / 3 Felixes!

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