Gravity Falls is a special place—a town that feels like it's just a stones throw from Twin Peaks and a hop skip and a jump from the island in Lost. In this land oddities including rainbow vomiting gnomes, mermen and ghosts roam free. The series involves twins Dipper and Mable, who are sent to stay for the duration of the summer holidays, with their Uncle Stan (Grunkle Stan) at the Mystery Shack, a ramshackle building housing fake phenomena. There's no Log Lady but there are a stereotypical miner Old Man McGucket, Lazy Susan and manchild Soos; a colourful range of characters that give Gravity Falls a wonderful eclectic cast that brings the place alive.
The series is 39 episodes long and is similar to The X-Files in structure in that there is a story arc, as well as a monster of the week. The central mystery is where the monsters are coming from and who is the author of the 3 tomes that Dipper discovers which describes the phenomena in the town in great detail? Over the course of the 39 episodes many questions and mysteries arise. The cliffhanger at the end of series one was reminiscent of the end of series one cliffhanger in Lost but this one had the writing chops to pull it through to the second series and continue wonderfully through the second series to a satisfying conclusion.
Gravity Falls is a Disney production, surprisingly so, as it does feel like it would feel more at home on the Cartoon Network alongside Adventure Time, Over the Garden Wall or Stephen Universe. It feels edgy and on the nose, especially when you consider the age of its target audience but there is a definite heart and maturity to it that has led to a larger adult and maturer teen fanbase who enjoy the cryptography and codes that litter the episodes, but without excluding the younger viewers. During the course of the show over 3 years, thousands of fan theories abound, each week after each show discussion boards would be ablaze dissecting the details in intricate and exacting detail. The last time I saw this kind of clamouring around a series was with Lost when it was at its prime and in gaming when Bioshock Infinite wowed/ confused us with it's ending.
The final episode of Gravity Falls was on earlier this week and I won't spoil it here but I will say that the ending was a wonderful way to tie up the series and had a huge emotional punch. The character arc is beautifully realised here and unlike Lost, the ending was worth the many years of waiting and delivered. The pure wonderful weirdness of the final arc, the 3 part Weirdmegeddon, truly encapsulated what made Gravity Falls such a pleasure for its fans. The stakes were high and it didn't patronise its audience, there was real danger and real cost and true character development, something a lot of animation has lost today.
There are very few series that are as well conceived, written and executed as Gravity Falls and when an animated series leaves you thinking about parallel dimensions, alternate universes and man's place in the cosmos then you know there's something special. There are few shows that quote or are influences by Satre, H.P. Lovecraft or Danielkewski.
Gravity Falls is the perfect example of what other kid shows should strive to achieve. If you haven't watched Gravity Falls yet, look it up. You'll be glad you did.