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Taking In “The Last Day Of Summer” With “Phineas And Ferb” Creators Marsh, Povenmire

“Phineas and Ferb” co creators Dan Povenmire (left) and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh (right) discuss the “Last Day of Summer.” Photo credit: Disney XD/Valerie Marcon

By: Marjorie Galas

Put away the beach balls and get the school clothes ready. The eight year long summer vacation is coming to an end.

Faced with contract renegotiations two years ago, “Phineas and Ferb” creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh decided nothing should last forever. They discussed ideas they had with advisors at Walt Disney Television Animation, and looked forward to bringing the show to a satisfying conclusion on their own terms. After eight years, four seasons, multiple specials (including the 2014 hit ”Star Wars” themed spectacular), three Prime Time Emmys and a full summer vacation’s worth of award nominations (that would be between 35-40 for those counting), the “Phineas and Ferb” one hour finale, appropriately titled “The Last Day of Summer” will air Friday, June 12th at 9:00pm ET/PT as a simulcast on Disney XD and Disney Channel.

“It was really important to us to end the show while it was still going strong and not running out of gas,” said Povenmire. “We wanted to put something really epic together.”

Povenmire and Marsh met while they were animators on “The Simpsons.” The two were fast friends who developed a strong rapport with each other. While they continued working on other series, they put their heads together to create a story that focused on two stepbrothers who occupy every day of summer by embarking on imaginative, fun-filled adventures. Each episode included step sister Candice trying to “bust” the boys as they created outlandish machines or traveled to far-reaching places. Meanwhile, pet platypus Perry, a secret agent engaged in his own busting mission – foiling evil doer Dr. Doofenshmirtz – occupied each episode’s B story . Utilizing an animation style that employed bright, primary colors and basic geometric shapes, Povenmire and Marsh scored the series with songs that employed every conceivable musical style – a technique they felt would keep young viewers engaged.

“You can never go wrong over-estimating the intelligence of kids,” said Marsh. “We never shied away from using big words or unusual musical styles. Kids will get it.”

For the final show, Povenmire and Marsh decided to build an episode around an idea they had batted about many times over the years. They wanted to pay homage to 80s hit “Groundhog Day.” Candace’s desire to bust the boys who’ve built the ultimate summer tribute invention results in an event that allows her to revisit the day repeatedly until she discovers she’s placed the entire world in peril. Each major character has an important part to play in the day that continually begins with Phineas shouting out his catch phrase, “I know what we’re going to do today!” As with their “Star Wars” special, which not only united “Phineas and Ferb” characters in the “Star Wars” universe but also incorporated elements of Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” Povenmire and Marsh loosely incorporated aspects of the time rift/ science fiction elements found in Stephen King’s novel “The Langoliers” into their “Groundhog Day“ tribute.

“We pitched it as ‘Groundhog Day’ meets ‘The Langoliers’ because we know how much kids love seeing episodes based on movies from the 80s and books they’ve never heard of,” joked Povenmire.

Povenmire and Marsh had fun working with the writers as they fine-tuned the story arc and embedded enough Easter Eggs to entertain both their adult and younger fans. What they hadn’t foreseen was the overwhelming response of well-wishes and testimonials the announcement of the finale would have on the show’s loyal viewers.

“The announcement went out and suddenly there were hundreds of messages pouring in, with people sharing their emotional comments. While we knew about the end of the series for a while, it never occurred to me there would be a whole community out there that would be affected by this news,” said Povenmire. Added Swampy, “Dan called me and said ‘Are you looking at these messages? ’ People shared how the series helped them get over PTS or chemo with their kids. We had many crying sessions just seeing the impact the show had on people.”

The conclusion of “Phineas and Ferb” is allowing Povenmire and Marsh to set their sights on new endeavors they’ll engage in together, including the development of animation ideas put aside for many years. As Povenmire and Marsh reviewed concepts and early drawings, one character in particular kept drawing their attention – a young boy named Mikey Murphy. The great, great, great, great, great-grandson of Murphy of “Murphy’s Law” fame, Mikey lives in a universe where situations regularly go awry. With an aesthetic reminiscent of the “Phineas and Ferb” animation style, the character appeared fleshed out and ready for his own series.

“Mikey isn’t overcome by the adversity of his situations. He sees himself as lucky; he sees his life as one big adventure,” said Povenmire. “He looks like a kid who might be living in a town or two over from Phineas and Ferb. Maybe these characters will all meet up someday, you just never know.”

Povenmire and Marsh expect music will have a role to play in their new series, entitled “Mikey Murphy’s Law,” however many aspects of the show are still in early development stages. It will make its debut in 2017 on Disney XD.

To learn more about “Phineas and Ferb” and the “Last Day of Summer,” please visit:
http://disneyxd.disney.com/phineas-and-ferb