Brothers and Sisters, today is my birthday,
so hopefully you’ll excuse this easier topic. Sure, this is a topic I still get requests
for, but I nearly didn’t tackle this list because – well, I’m not a big fan of list
videos. Most times I find that they’re poorly constructed and quickly slapped together just
to get easy views. My viewers have come to expect better than that, and certainly deserve
better. Besides, I’m sure Channel Frederator has already uploaded 7 list videos today alone!
I’m confident everyone has already had their fill of list videos. So that’s why my list is a little different.
Rather than simply select a handful of episodes and haphazardly arrange them in some sort
of order, I created a litteral top 3. Each of these three episodes I’ve selected best
showcases a different element that makes up the whole of Gravity Falls. Comedy. Mythos.
And Engine. Comedy is mostly self explanatory, so let’s start there. At its core, Alex
Hirsch describes Gravity Falls as a comedy/adventure/mystery and there’s a reason “comedy” is listed
first. It’s a hilarious show. So as I sat down to decide which episode could
be considered the funniest, there were a few rules that I held myself to. Firstly, It had
to be part of the regular series continuity, which immediately ruled out both the between
season shorts and the two anthology episodes: Bottomless Pit and Little Gift Shop of Horrors.
I did this mostly because the shorter format of the shorts and the anthology episodes give
them an unfair advantage when it comes to comedy. You see, In comedy, timing is everything.
There’s a reason most sketch comedy limits itself to 3 minutes. And why the punchline
of the sketch or a funny video is edited out and turned into a looping gif thereafter.
Most times, when you’re telling a joke time is not on your side. People don’t want to
sit through an hour long video for a single joke, so the less time you have to fill with
“story” the easier it is to tell funny jokes. That’s why I gave these short form
videos the boot. The second rule I held myself to was the need
for balanced incorporation of Dipper and Mabel. Many of the episodes send Dipper and Mabel
in opposite directions or focus more on one than the other. Since the heart of Gravity
Falls relies on the importance of family, I decided to rule out episodes like Dipper
Vs Manliness, The Golf War, Northwest Mansion Mystery, and The Deep End. All amazing and
hilarious episodes in their own right, but due to the necessities of their stories, they
fractured their cast to explore multiple plots in the same episode. So after a lot of thought I narrowed the funniest
episode down to three possible selections. The first was Carpet Diem which gave both
Dipper and Mabel a chance to walk in each others shoes. (“Look. It all begins with
this little fella. The pituitary gland. He may be little, but he’s got big plans!”)
The second was Headhunters, which focused on Dipper and Mabel teaming up to solve a
mystery (“We’re here to interrogate Manly Dan the lumberjack for the murder of wax Stan.
Dedledle-ee. Works for me. He’s resting.”) But ultimately, I chose… Irrational Treasure.
Not only is this a stellar example of Dipper and Mabel working together, it introduces
showcases one of Alex Hirsch’s best creations for this series: Sir Lord Quentin Trembley
III, Esq., the 8th and a half and currently rogue President of the United States of America.
The man who appointed six babies to the supreme court and waged war on pancakes. The episode
is packed wall to wall with iconic jokes I constantly reference to this very day, like
this one: Oh, look. The “Constable.” What are you gonna do? Throw me in “ye stocks?”
(Laughs.) Aw, c’mon! And this one: You realize what this means,
Mabel. We’re gonna have to break. In. (Dramatic music plays.)…And here are your free Pioneer
Day passes, and your balloons, blue and pink. (Dramatic music plays.) We’re in. And
this one: And then he chased me around and
spanked me with a paddle for, like, three hours. Bottom line, George Washington was
a jerk. Gravity Falls would be a lot less silly and
a whole lot less funny without the introduction of Pioneer Day, the Northwest Coverup, Puppies
playing basketball, and Nacho Earrings. That’s why I’ve named Irrational Treasure Gravity
Falls’ best comedic episode. Next let’s take a look at the episode that
best encapsulates the Mythos of Gravity Falls. For those who don’t know, a show’s “mythos”
is its recurrent narrative, theme, or plot structure. The big story of Gravity Falls.
As we all know, almost all of the episodes and even some of the shorts tie into the mythos
of the show, so this pick was a little harder to make. For this pick I held myself to just one rule,
the episode’s plot couldn’t rest entirely on the mythos of the show. I felt these episodes
work best as part of the whole experience of Gravity Falls and less as individual episodes.
Their sole purpose is to specifically drive the overarching story to its conclusion instead
of doing what mythos episodes do best: build the world and tease the mystery of the show.
For that reason, I disqualified Not What He Seems, A Tale of Two Stans, Dipper and Mabel
Vs The Future, and all of Weirdmageddon. With those out of the way, there really was
only one of two choices: Sock Opera or Dreamscaperers. Both showcase Bill Cipher, are steeped in
foreshadowing, and tease big things well outside the bounds of what we knew at the time, but
more importantly these two episodes stand beautifully by themselves. You don’t need
a “last time, on Gravity Falls” preamble of edited shots from previous episodes to
bring new audience members up to speed. That said, and this was a hard decision to
make, I chose… Dreamscaperers as Gravity Falls best Mythos episode. The reason is clear.
It’s the introduction of Bill Cipher. The mysterious drawing flashed at the beginning
of every episode finally reveals himself. It also perfectly encapsulates the duality
and mirror like aspects of Gravity Falls plot structure. Bill Cipher begins his summer by
invading the mind of who we’re tricked into thinking is Stanford Pines, and ends with
Bill Cipher being tricked into invading the mind of who he thinks is Stanford Pines. Dreamscaperers
may end with the shocking and game changing lead-in to Gideon Rises, but this single episode
expands the world and raises the stakes higher than any episode before it or any after it. And finally, rounding out my top three, is
the episode that best encapsulates the series engine. For those who don’t know, the engine
of the show is what drives the plot of the story, and is comprised of all the individual
pieces of Gravity Falls. The Characters, the location, the theme, and how all of these
interact with each other, all go into the shows engine. Theoretically, a show with a strong engine
is predictable. For example, you can take a show with a well established engine like
Frasier and put various characters together in a specific location, like Niles and Frasier
Crane in a fancy restaurant. Then, give them a situation to deal with, like a conversation
they socially can’t get out of and tickets to a show that starts in just 20 minutes,
and you know how these characters are going to react with one another, the location and
the people theirin, and more or less how they would deal with this escalating situation. Part of what makes Gravity Falls so great
is its smooth engine. It’s a shame we didn’t get a chance to spend more time with these
characters, but because of how well defined all of the pieces are, anyone could use these
established parts and craft a great episode of Gravity Falls. It’s one of the reasons
there are so many amazing webcomics out there – like the clever ones from Moringmark. There’s
a link to his tumblr in the links below! So an episode that best encapsulates the show’s
engine is one that is nearly mythos free. It needs to be episodic by nature, but it
also needs to be part of the regular series continuity. That’s why the two anthology
episodes again get the boot from my final picks – which is a shame, because I really
enjoy those episodes, and they were primarily crafted so that the writers could have fun
with the show’s engine without hurting Gravity Falls’ mythos.. So the rule I held myself for this pick was
simple: What is the best episode to show someone to introduce them to Gravity Falls for the
first time. Introducing someone to a new show can be a daunting task. Many shows start off
slow, and sometimes take seasons to refine their engine to a point where people love
it. Thankfully Gravity Falls doesn’t have that problem, and the first three episodes
are nearly as engaging as the final three. That’s the reason I nearly selected Tourist
Trapped as my pick, but despite its strong opening and quick worldbuilding, it still
fractures its cast and primarily focuses on Dipper and Mabel – though more specifically
Dipper. Despite its runtime, we still don’t get to really know Soos or Grunkle Stan. The
twins may have a golf cart chase with a giant gnome made of individual gnomes that wrecks
part of the town, it’s scope is only as large as Dipper and Mabel’s bedroom. That’s why I chose… Land Before Swine.
Admittedly, this episode nearly was selected for funniest episode based solely on the Bobby
Renzobbi Huggy Wuvvy Tummy Bundle commercial. Though Stan is the focus of the episode’s
plot, this episode brings in every character of the primary cast and plays them all to
their strengths. It has an incredibly balanced and well constructed classically rising plot
that that climaxes with Grunkle Stan punching a pterodactyl in the face to save the life
of the family pet. Aside from introducing the amber preserved
dinosaurs beneath Gravity Falls that are reincorporated in the final episode and teasing the fact
that Grunkle Stan probably knows more about the weirdness of the town than he seems to,
you can show someone who has never seen a single episode of Gravity Falls Land Before
Swine without spoiling a thing. And since it does such an amazing job of showcasing
the cast, the world they live in, and the humor of the show, I feel like it’s going
to hook a new viewer far faster than Tourist Trapped will. There was no better choice than
Land Before Swine to represent Gravity Falls Best Engine Episode Well Brothers and Sisters, that’s my top
three Gravity Falls episode list. While Irrational Treasure, Dreamscaperers, and Land Before
Swine all showcase the best Gravity Falls has to offer, you might still be left wondering,
what do I think is the best overall episode? The most important episode? The most historically
important? I’ll answer that question next week, and until then, Share, Subscribe, and
keep cracking those codes!