It's The X-Files meets Twin Peaks — but animated. Oh, and for kids. Disney Channel's Gravity Falls, which launches tonight at 9:30/8:30c, may be unlike any other cartoon out there for the runny-nose set — and that's the appeal.
Disney, which already reinvented its cartoon brand with irreverent fare like megahit Phineas and Ferb, goes even further down that path with Gravity Falls, the tale of a brother and sister forced to spend the summer with their great-uncle (or "Grunkle") in a town where very weird things happen. Jason Ritter plays bright-eyed youngster Dipper Pines, while Kristen Schaal provides the voice of his eager sister Mabel. Linda Cardellini is on board as teenager Wendy, the older object of Dipper's affections.
Creator Alex Hirsch says he conceived each episode like a "little movie," as the show explores its versions of urban legends. "This is everything I was obsessed with when I was 12," says Hirsch, who also provides the voices of the kids' Grunkle Stan. "Growing up I was nuts about aliens, the Loch Ness monster and the paranormal. So I thought, wouldn't it be cool to put all those urban legends into a series and make them our own?"
Hirsch says he plotted out Gravity Falls to have some continuity and an on-going mythology. In the show's premiere, Dipper finds a dusty journal hidden in the woods and containing a big mystery that will play out over the entire series. The show's opening credits also provide some hints to what that mystery might be.
Each season of Gravity Falls will play out over the course of a month in the summer, which is why Hirsch says he has already plotted out the show's first three seasons. "We have a three-season arc conceived, and at the end of season three, summer is over," he says. "Right now things are just ramping up. And at the end of season one we have an exciting cliffhanger that will blow some kids' minds."
Among the show's original creatures will be something called the "multi-bear," a bear made out of other bears. "He'll be voiced by Alfred Molina," says Hirsch, "who I can't believe agreed to be the voice of multiple bears at once."
In the July 13 episode of Gravity Falls, Dipper tries to impress Wendy by joining her and other teens to an abandoned convenience store. Here's a first look at that episode.