Brow Beat

Goodbye, Phineas and Ferb. Thank You for Showing My Kids What Summer Vacation Should Be Like.

Phineas and Ferb, hatching backyard schemes.  

Disney Channel

All children understand that summer must end. Indeed, it’s summer’s short life—just 104 blessed days of sleepaway camp and lounging by the pool and sleeping in and complaining that you’re bored, and isn’t there anything to do, Dad—that makes it so precious. If every day were summer vacation, summer vacation wouldn’t mean anything; it would have no shape, no final day to anticipate and fear.

For the current generation of kids, though, there’s one endless summer they’ve known as long as they’ve been alive: the summer vacation of Phineas and Ferb, two stepbrothers living in the town of Danville. Since 2007, their eponymous Disney Channel animated show has presented day after day of a summer vacation that never seems to end, a summer vacation in which each day allows for a new, absurdly ambitious scheme: building the tallest building in the world, or opening a trendy platypus-themed restaurant in your backyard, or discovering the lost city of Atlantis. But after eight years of fast-talking, singing-and-dancing, Byzantinely-plotted adventures, even Phineas and Ferb’s summer must end: Disney has just announced that the June 12 episode will be the last. Fittingly, it’s called “Last Day of Summer.”

Starting on June 9, Disney XD will air a marathon of all 126 episodes. Kids will be watching; so may their parents, many of whom view Phineas and Ferb (as I do) as one of the only children’s programs they actually look forward to watching with their kids. But even if you’re not a kid or a parent, you should watch a few episodes too, to admire the handiwork of creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff Marsh, who first met as layout artists on The Simpsons. Phineas and Ferb is unapologetically complex, unabashedly silly, and unambiguously cheerful; the musical numbers are catchy as hell; the dialogue sharp and delivered with flair by a talented voice cast (including Povenmire and Marsh themselves).

Every episode ends with Candace, the boys’ older sister, nearly busting them for their out-of-control backyard schemes, and always foiled at the last moment by some exceedingly unlikely twist of fate. I have high hopes for the finale: that Candace might finally prove to her parents that her brothers are up to something; that neighbor Isabella might get her longtime crush Phineas to respond romantically; that hapless villain Dr. Doofenshmirtz might see one of his terrible gadgets finally work; that Phineas and Ferb’s final adventure of the summer might be bigger and more splendid than any of the ones that preceded it. I’ll watch it with my kids, and then—because it’s June—I’ll send them off to start their real summers, summers that, like all the best things in life, can’t last forever.