It's The X-Files meets Twin Peaks — but animated, and for kids. Disney Channel's Gravity Falls, which airs a new episode Aug. 24 at 9:30/8:30c, may be unlike any other cartoon out there. Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal play Dipper and Mabel Pines, siblings who are forced to spend the summer with their eccentric great-uncle in a town where very weird things happen. Creator Alex Hirsch says he conceives each episode like a "little movie," as the show explores its versions of urban legends. We asked him to scare up some reasons why we should investigate Gravity Falls.
TV Guide Magazine: This isn't your parents' Disney Channel. What convinced you that Disney was a good fit?
Alex Hirsch: They bribed me. (Lifetime supply of Mickey hats!) But all kidding aside, Disney Television Animation is going through sort of a renaissance right now. There's a newfound commitment to making creator-driven shows, and the talent that's coming here as a result is amazing. Plus, they let me drive a go-cart through the halls. Who could ask for more? I think if Walt Disney were alive today he'd be proud.
TV Guide Magazine: Anything you're surprised you got away with?
Hirsch: I will say that there's one episode where we chop off Larry King's head with an axe. It's even weirder than it sounds.
TV Guide Magazine: Give us an equation for your show.
Hirsch: Gravity Falls = The Simpsons + Twin Peaks + Making Fun Of My Sister
TV Guide Magazine: Is there a real-life place that inspired the cartoon's setting?
Hirsch: Gravity Falls exists...in your heart. But it also exists in Oregon, which I visited one summer while in college. I also spent many summers camping with my twin sister as a kid, and the time we spent getting cabin fever and mosquito bites in the middle of nowhere is something I always hoped would pay off one day. Finally, it has!
TV Guide Magazine: What would a Gravity Falls ride at Disneyland or California Adventure look like?
Hirsch: Since the show takes place at a roadside tourist museum called the Mystery Shack, it would be amazing if they built a real-life Mystery Shack on of the parks. An animatronic Dipper and Mabel could drive a tour cart through a monster-filled forest, while an animatronic Grunkle Stan would pick your pocket. No refunds!
TV Guide Magazine: What's the best thing someone has said about Gravity Falls?
Hirsch: "Gravity Falls is the greatest show in the history of mankind!"
TV Guide Magazine: Were they right?
Hirsch: My mom is always right.
TV Guide Magazine: What kind of kid will dig Gravity Falls the most?
Hirsch: I really do think all kids will love it. There's something in there for everyone. Sci-fi for the nerd types, action and butt jokes for the jock types, and romance for the lady types. I fully expect that this show will cause all the kids of the schoolyard to cast off the oppressive labels that divide them and join hands over a mutual love of cartoons.
TV Guide Magazine: What's your favorite mystery or legend? Will we see it in Gravity Falls?
Hirsch: I spent many years of my childhood pondering the great mysteries like, "Are aliens real?" and "Why won't girls talk to me?" I try not to give away too many spoilers, but I can say that fans of the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, UFOs, and Half-Gremlin-Half-Goblin hybrids will not be disappointed.
TV Guide Magazine: How are you using your power of TV for good?
Hirsch: I think there are a lot of shows out there that value being hip or cool over being funny and heartfelt. I've worked really hard to make characters that feel like they actually care about each other and aren't just catchphrase-spewing snark machines like too many kid characters on TV.
TV Guide Magazine: What's an alternate title for your show?
Hirsch: Big Trouble in Little Oregon
TV Guide Magazine: What credit of yours would you prefer we forget?
Hirsch: When I was 15 I did birdcalls on the David Letterman show, but I have since burned all video evidence of this.
TV Guide Magazine: Fill in the blank: If you like ___________ , you'll love Gravity Falls.
Hirsch: If you like laughing and then being deeply disturbed, in that order, you'll love Gravity Falls.