After their successful Marvel crossover episode last summer, the creative forces behind Disney’s popular animated series Phineas and Ferb turned to another corner of the studio’s media empire for inspiration–Lucasfilm. Yes, “Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars” is on its way to Disney Channel this summer and fans of both franchises are eager to see what happens when “Doof meets Darth.”
I recently had an exclusive chance to talk to Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz himself, AKA Phineas and Ferb co-creator and executive producer Dan Povenmire, at the opening of Man vs. Machine: The Robot Show, an in-house art exhibition at Disney Television Animation’s offices in Glendale, Calif. (more on that event to come). We talked about his reverence for the Star Wars legacy and how this special will be different from the animated spoofs that have come before.
“We’re doing it completely different than other people have done Star Wars,” Povenmire said. “Like, Family Guy and Robot Chicken have done Star Wars where they sort of make fun of the characters or have their characters as those characters. And we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to leave Star Wars alone as though it was sacred.”
We’ll see the gang embark on their own adventure, in typical Phineas and Ferb fashion, as the events of A New Hope unfold in the background. At the start of the story, Phineas and Ferb are living one moisture farm away from Luke Skywalker, until a certain escape pod arrives carrying a certain pair of familiar droids. When the plans for the unfinished Death Star get knocked out of R2-D2 in the Tatooine desert, it’s up to the gang to ensure they are delivered safely to the rebels. Of course, their task is made more difficult by their “Stormtrooper-like” sister Candace, ever intent on busting the rebels, and the evil Dr. Darthenschmirtz’s latest creation, the “Sith-inator.”
“The stories interact, but nothing ever changes what’s happening in the original Star Wars,” Povenmire explained. “If there’s a scene from the original Star Wars, it’s exactly the way it happened in the movie. We have things like the famous shot of Luke looking out at the sunset, and then we widen out and Perry is pushing R2-D2 past him in the background. So it’s all stuff that happens just off screen. Or their stuff is happening just off screen.”
I asked him if was his decision to keep the original story more or less intact or if it was a restriction handed down from the powers that be. He said that he and his team made the creative choice out of love and reverence for the source material.
“We were much more precious with the Star Wars storyline than even I think Lucasfilm was,” he said. “We were like, ‘We don’t want to touch anything. We don’t want anything to be different in Star Wars.’ And I think that’s what they really responded to. They could see that we were in love with Star Wars as much as they were. I think they’re a lot less precious with it.”
I pointed out that Star Wars is having a big moment right now, with the new cast just announced this week and more goodies to come this weekend in celebration of Star Wars Day on May the 4th. He said he’s following the news closely and is just excited as the rest of the fans for the new live-action sequel, directed by J.J. Abrams: “I’m very excited about all the new Star Wars stuff, and I think J.J. is the guy to do it. I think he did such a good job with, well, everything he’s touched basically. I’m a big fan.”