It’s Cartoon Friday, again!

Fans dressed as Gravity Falls characters

Mabel and “Grunkle” Stan Pines at Wondercon 2013

Were you a fan of the X-Files or Twin Peaks? Can you imagine turning either one into a kids cartoon that airs on the Disney Channel?

In essence, that’s Gravity Falls, one of my favorite cartoons on the air. The first season wrapped at the beginning of this month, and I’m thrilled that it’s been renewed for a second season.

At the beginning of this series, 12-year old twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent to spend the summer with their great uncle Stan in Gravity Falls, Oregon. “Grunkle” Stan owns a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack where he capitalizes on the mysterious atmosphere of the town to scam tourists out of their money. Despite the many bizarre things that happen in every episode around him, he remains resolutely skeptical. Not so young Dipper, who with the help of his sister, handyman Soos, and a strange journal he discovers in the pilot spend each episode trying to prove the existence of, or defend themselves from, a bizarre monster or unexplainable supernatural phenomenon. Over the course of the show, the series expands to showcase a host of weird local characters from the two dumb local cops to crazy Old Man McGuckett and, of course, Waddles the pig.

Disney is streaming episode 14, “Bottomless Pit,” online right now. In general, this series should be watched in order but this episode stands alone and is my favorite kind of special episode, the anthology. Four main characters each take a turn telling a brief, weird tale (okay, Grunkle Stan’s barely counts …) giving a great introduction to the setting and its cast. Though not the very best episode and far from the creepiest, there are lots of laughs. For people who are into that kind of thing, Gravity Falls is also full of backwards, hidden and coded messages.

Why do I love this show so much? One reason is that creator Alex Hirsch deliberately set out to depict a different kind of brother-sister relationship than we usually see on television, especially in cartoons. While Mabel might tease Dipper about his puberty voice, there’s a genuine love and support between the pair that’s a far cry from the sniping of say, Lisa and Bart Simpson. Mabel is voiced by the hilarious and talented Kristen Schaal, perhaps best known to cartoon fans as Louise on Bob’s Burgers, and she brings the same comic timing and manic energy to her character on Gravity Falls. I can’t get enough of the catch theme song by composer Brad Breeck. Finally, though many of the stories are typical coming-of-age tales, each one gets a healthy injection of Fortean weirdness that never fails to entertain this skeptic.

Note: This video is hosted on Disney Video, so I have no control over how long the content is available. I love this show too much to pass up the chance to share it, however.

What are your favorite cartoons? I will try to use your suggestions in a future installment.

 

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Photo by Mooshuu released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.