TV Review: “Gravity Falls” – Not HG Wells Approved But Still Fantastic

Written by Jessica Koroll February 22, 2013

Main_characters_of_Gravity_FallsBoasting crisp animation and an incredible eye for detail, “Gravity Falls” is easily one of the best animated series to come across my screen in a while. Alex Hirsch has created a series that is literally teeming with secrets and surprises as viewers join mystery twins Dipper and Mabel in discovering the codes, symbols, and supernatural creatures that make up Gravity Falls. Whether in the story itself or within its own production values, the mix of surrealism and dark humour prevalent throughout the show sets it apart as a strange and addicting summer mystery that offers rewards for close viewing.

“Awww…you sneeze like a kitten.”

When twins Dipper (Jason Ritter) and Mabel (Kristen Shaal of “30 Rock” and “The Daily Show”) are sent off to stay with their great uncle Gruncle Stan (Alex Hirsch) for the summer in Gravity Falls, Oregon, it seems as though the two will be stuck doing little more than helping out around their uncle’s Mystery Shack, a tourist trap which he runs and owns. While he purports to be showing off the area’s most mysterious objects and creatures to anyone willing to pay, it’s clear that the business is nothing but a hoax. Yet, after travelling into the woods one night, Dipper discovers a mysterious journal containing information on the various supernatural creatures that exist in Gravity Falls. As ghosts and time travellers slowly begin to reveal themselves, the siblings take it upon themselves to uncover the secrets surrounding them.

On a completely superficial level, this show is simply a lot of fun to watch. The smooth animation and bright colour palette is cheerful and welcoming, while the upbeat soundtrack takes typically pop-y tracks and infuses them with a sort of sci-fi beat that extends the series’ mystery motif in a really cool way that feels more comprehensive and complete.

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“If you recite the pledge of allegiance backwards, you’ll gain secret wizard powers!”

And the production team has certainly put forth a lot of effort in creating a sense of seamless immersion and acceptance of the show’s disordered world. As Dipper and Mabel delve deeper into Gravity Falls, viewers are encouraged to discard reality and join the characters in uncovering the show’s secrets. There are codes to be deciphered in the end credits, strange whispers in the opening theme, and background details that offer additional jokes and hints to possible future plot points. With each episode there are further promises of something darker going on behind the scenes than the series’ bright and simple appearance first lets on. In the end, even the smallest details prove not to be so incidental.

But, even without delving too deeply into its sturdy production, there is plenty to enjoy about the show. The humour frequently skirts on the dark and strange with references to evil time devouring babies and frequent reminders that anyone who may appear dead really isn’t *cough cough,* not to mention enough pop culture references to send older viewers into a wave of nostalgia over their own cartoon watching days. There’s plenty for the kids to enjoy as well, of course, but older viewers will have so much more fun with it.

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The meticulous attention to detail is finally rounded off by a talented cast of voice actors who manage to pull off sarcastic quips and nonsensical dialogue with ease. In particular, lending her voice to the hyper-active Mabel, Kristen Shaal once again succeeds in giving us a character who could have so easily gone wrong but, instead, is unfalteringly silly and charming. Her willingness to run with any line given to her is remarkable and never fails to be entertaining.

“Gravity Falls” is an amazing piece of work that really exemplifies the amount of creativity happening within the animation industry at present. It’s weird and wonderful and it hasn’t even completed its first season yet. I’ll be watching to see where it goes!

My Rating: 8.5/10

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About Jessica Koroll

An English student with a taste for the surreal and love for all things science fiction, her thoughts generally linger on Star Trek, lit theory, and recent tv episodes. I'm also @korolline_

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