“Ladies and gentlemen, behold– The Sascrotch!”
Enter an animated Sasquatch stuffed into a pair of tighty whities. It’s on a pedestal in Uncle Stan’s backwoods Oregon museum, meant to illustrate just how tacky Uncle Stan’s museum is. Who’s Uncle Stan? That’s not important (yet). What is important is that a writer coined the term “Sascrotch,” snickered over the animated mockups of a character only meant to appear for approximately 2 seconds …and inserted it anyway. Now, if “Sascrotch” didn’t elicit at least a snort from you, you probably shouldn’t have come to Disney Channel for entertainment in the first place. But if you’re a fan of cartoons built on gleeful irreverence and deliberate humour, Gravity Falls will be a surprisingly pleasant foray into the world of children’s programming.
‘Falls certainly echoes its contemporaries in the world of kids shows. There’s a cute brother and sister duo named Dipper and Mabel– presumably twins –shipped off to stay with a relative they barely know (the aforementioned Uncle Stan), where they end up having wild and unexpected adventures. Cliche? Sure. Yet unlike its placid channel companions, ‘Falls delivers enough nuances in its characters and its jokes to overcome an otherwise staid sitcom plot.
Dipper, the protagonist, isn’t as blindingly self-assured and adventurous as most cartoon boys. Sure, he opens the episode by whizzing through the frame in a golf cart whilst being chased by an unseen monster, but he spends the rest of it being faintly cynical, perpetually dry, and comically paranoid, even convinced that the insect bites on his arm have spelled out “BEWARE” to warn him of the dangers lurking in his sleepy forest town. (In fact, they spell “BEWARB,” and he is quickly dismissed by Uncle Stan, who is himself creepy albeit mostly forgettable.)
Sister Mabel is arguably the best comic relief of the entire show. Initially, she appears so desperate for an “epic summer romance” that she hits on any/every boy in your standard embarrassing cartoon teenage girl fashion, replete with a “Do you like me?” note containing only “Yes,” “Definitely,” and “Absolutely!!!” as answers. (She even hides behind a rack of bobbleheads while her current object of affection reads her note, just for extra creep factor). Thankfully– and you can breathe a sigh of relief here, feminists –she ends up being much cooler, and perhaps even a tad more emotionally stable than her brother, eventually fighting off a hundred gnomes who passed themselves off as a cute emo boyfriend, then rewarding herself with a grappling hook offered as a present by Uncle Stan.
Unlike its contemporaries in the Kids Aged 6-12 demographic, Gravity Falls never quite lets its characters slip into complete caricatures. Pause midway through ‘Falls and think of Phineas Flynn– the brainy go-getter of “Phineas and Ferb” fame –and how much more interesting he’d be to watch if he didn’t seem so cloyingly cute and optimistic. Perhaps also call to mind Phin’s sister Candace, another boy-crazy teen who mostly yells at everyone and devolves into such a hormonal mess you never get to know her– or, you know, want to. Now return to Gravity Falls and appreciate the comparatively restrained Dipper and Mabel. TV is a lot more fun when things like humor and morality are served up lightly, rather than lobbed at you like a 90mph fastball the way Disney cartoons often tend to, and its refreshing to see a program with some pause. Perhaps this is why Gravity Falls pulls such stellar statistics in its target demographic.
Overall, Gravity Falls is inoffensive and enjoyable. It managed to pull more genuine LOLs from me than any other children’s show i’ve ever watched, between truly stupid puns (“Time to spill the beans!” exclaims Mabel, knocking over a can of beans, then promptly snickering to herself), and oddities like Sascrotch, which was so unexpected, so terribly funny, and of such questionable appropriateness for children that it bears a second mention (don’t worry though, it doesn’t get any saucier). It’s smart stuff, and likely the closest you’ll get to fun for the whole family next to a day at a pizza/play establishment — skip the screaming children, stay at home, watch Gravity Falls.
3 Grappling Hooks/4 Grappling Hooks
(Worth Watching) Find Gravity Falls’ TV Listing Here