The Animation Corner: Gravity Falls Tribute

BENJAMIN K. PAPLHAM | ENTERTAINMENT COLUMNIST

Entertainment_Ben_GravityFalls.jpg

Author’s Note: On June 15, 2012, Disney premiered the first episode to the strange and wonderful “Gravity Falls”, and last month the show aired its 40th and final episode. This is a tribute to creative genius and uncorked imagination.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Over the past three-and-a-half years, “Gravity Falls” has delivered heartfelt comedy, bringing us along on wild adventures from rainbow-barfing gnomes to feral boy-bands to the absolute weirdest Armageddon. It features a progressive plot—unusual for a children’s cartoon—and a diverse cast that defies stock characterization.

The creator, Alex Hirsch, perfectly explains, “I wanted ‘Gravity Falls’ to have a mystery that had a real answer, an adventure that had a real climax and an ending that had a real conclusion for the characters I care so much about.”

The show centers on Mabel and Dipper Pines, 12-year-old fraternal twins forced to spend a summer with their Great-Uncle Stan (Grunkle Stan). But what a summer it’ll be. Grunkle Stan lives in small-town Gravity Falls and runs a tourist trap called The Mystery Shack that features “real” creatures of urban legend. Little do the Pines twins know that, even though their Grunkle fabricates monsters, the mythological creatures are real—and they live just outside their doorstep. Very quickly, Dipper and Mabel embark on an epic quest to discover the secrets of Gravity Falls hidden deep within the town itself and three journals a mysterious author has left behind.

The show may have a coherent plot structure, but its charm is reliant upon its fantastic characterization, primarily the sibling dynamic. At its heart, “Gravity Falls” is about growing up, so to appreciate the show you must first fall in love with Mabel and Dipper. Mabel (Kristen Schaal: “Bob’s Burgers”) at first glance belongs to the category of characters that are excessively bubbly and vivacious like Pinkie Pie or Dee Dee. But throughout the course of the show, we discover that she hides certain insecurities about herself, such as a fear of separation and feeling alone. Dipper (Jason Ritter: “The Event”) is the opposite of Mabel: anxiety-stricken and borderline obsessive over rationality. He too tries to hide an insecure nature, which presses him into wanting others to view him as an adult and drives his ambition for success.

Through it all, “Gravity Falls” provided us with sarcastic wit, humorous irony and satire of every cartoon trope known to mankind. The show is a breath of fresh air in animated television and a joy for anyone to watch.

Personal awards:

Best Episode: “The Last Mabelcorn,” Episode 35

Worst Episode: “Dipper vs. Manliness,” Episode 6

Best Moment: Grunkle Stan’s hot air balloon turns into a diabolical threat against the youth of Gravity Falls. Episode 29: “The Love God”

Best Animation Sequence: Dipper and Wendy travel through the animation bubbles. Episode 38: “Weirdmageddon Part 1”

Best One-Liner: “Would you like to eat my candy paws?” Episode 5: “The Inconveniencing”

Darkest Joke: Big Henry’s sacrifice. Episode 23: “The Golf War”

Best Twin Fight: Mabel and Dipper switch bodies. Episode 16: “Carpet Diem”

Strangest Creature: Shape Shifter. Episode 22: “Into the Bunker”

Best Parody Moment: Dipper fights Rumble, a direct allusion to Ken and Ryu from “Street Fighters.” Episode 10: “Fight Fighters”

Most Heartwarming Moment: Dipper and Mabel share memories while in Mabel’s prison bubble. Episode 39: “Weirdmageddon Part 2: Escape from Reality”

Most Heartbreaking Moment: Mabel learns that Dipper wants to stay in Gravity Falls. Episode 37: “Dipper and Mabel vs. the Future”

Best Guest Star: Neil deGrasse Tyson as “Smart” Waddles the Pig. Episode 26: “Little Gift Shop of Horrors”

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