It seems like eons since we've seen a new episode of "Gravity Falls" and even with the shorts that we were occasionally treated to, it simply wasn't enough. But finally -- finally! -- the show is back after nearly six long months.
Most of Disney's offerings are, for the most part, cookie-cutter family comedies. Sure, there are nannies, talking dogs, puppet brothers, teen celebrities and senseis that distinguish them from one another, but "Gravity Falls" has always been different. It's mythology-heavy and offers a different -- dare I say, more grown-up? -- sense of humour.
Aside from its comedic efforts, the show has always managed to blend in sci-fi, mystery, fantasy and even romance. It sounds a little much for the kids but my eight-year-old can't get enough of it. She still laughs at it all, even when it goes over her head and I'm chuckling more than her. The plots are clever, the animation is fantastic and I can't say enough about the brilliant writing. And with all that comes a talented, hilarious ensemble voice cast that takes it to another level. The leads Jason Ritter (Dipper) and Kristen Schaal (Mabel), series creator Alex Hirsch (Grunkle Stan and Soos) and Linda Cardellini (Wendy) are the heart and soul of "Gravity Falls" but the supporting players, from Jennifer Coolidge as Lazy Susan to Carl Faruolo as Grenda, will have you wanting to visit this crazy town even more.
That being said, Season 2 picks up right where we left off. In fact, if you had some issues with the direction the show was going, beware that it gets a whole lot darker and the mysteries intensify. Let's just say there was a lot of "What's going on?" happening, similar to when I watch "Teen Wolf."
Grunkle Stan's code-cracking of the three journals has alerted secrets agents to investigate the not-so-sleepy town. And while he wants them out, Dipper is thrilled that someone else wants to know about the strange phenomenons that have been happening all summer (and, likely, for decades). But with all of Dipper's try-hard big talk with the secret agents, he inadvertently raises the dead because, of course.
Remember Mabel's boyfriend, Norman? We all thought he was a zombie but he ended up being a bunch of gnomes disguised as an awkward tween. Yeah, not so much this time around. It's more like "The Walking Dead" meets the "Thriller" video up in here so not for those who scare easily. (Guilty.)
The shift in tone is more than a little noticeable (like when the agents are dragged off kicking and screaming into the woods or the level of violence the characters use when destroying the zombies) -- but there are still laughs (a family karaoke session, Mabel saying anything). It was never the cheeriest of shows but now it's almost grim, save for Mabel's easy-breezy nature and awesome sweaters (the watermelon one, my favourite so far).
The black lights and hidden messages and that creepy triangle guy may be a little much for the young ones, who tune in to see Mabel cuddling Waddles and Dipper crushing on Wendy. But it's perfect for the kids who love to solve mysteries, like a mix of hilarity and seriousness, can appreciate characters who deal with things in a realistic manner (well, as realistically as one can in a town like this) -- and can get past the gory animation. It's kind of great when Stan sees a little of himself in his nephew, yet the two aren't willing to open up completely just yet. They still want to keep some of what they know close to the vest (or in Stan's case, hairy chest).
Like the characters and the viewers, "Gravity Falls" is maturing. But can we handle it? I say yes. A thousand times yes. What say you?
"Gravity Falls" premieres Sunday, August 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET on Disney XD.