Gravity Falls might be an animated comedy on Disney XD but it inspires the kind of obsessive analyzation more suited to something like Lost or The X-Files. (We once described the series as “Twin Peaks for kids” and we stand by that assessment.) The show returned last night, in spectacular form, with “Dungeons, Dungeons and More Dungeons,” which saw the gang battling magically enchanted characters from a nerdy role playing board game. We recapped it, exhaustively, but figured it would be best to reach out to the source: series creator Alex Hirsch.
Hirsch is the lifeblood of the series. He created the series and frequently contributes to scripts, but he also oversees the massive, increasingly intricate mythology and voices beloved characters Grunkle Stan and Soos. So if there’s someone who could fill us in on the particulars of the episode, it would be Hirsch. (We also tried to get details on upcoming episodes, but no dice. He enjoys keeping the mystery in the Mystery Shack.) And don’t worry—this will be an ongoing feature, with the next episode “The Stanchurian Candidate” premiering on Disney XD on August 24.
Did you play these types of role playing games as a kid? If so, was this something that you had wanted to write into the show for a long time?
I never did, actually! But one time back in my Flapjack days Pen Ward (creator of Adventure Time) and Pat McHale (creator of Over The Garden Wall) asked if I wanted to play D&D after work. I asked what the rules were, and they said, “It’s a game of imagination! There are no rules!” and then proceeded to argue about the rules for an hour and a half. I haven’t played since. But I should probably give it another try.
What was it like working with Weird Al? He’s a comedy legend for a lot of people and certainly still at the height of his powers. Had you always been a fan and what did he bring to the episode?
My dad raised me on Weird Al cassettes, and I think I probably knew the words to “Eat It” before I knew my whole name, so obviously working with him was a dream come true. The legends about him being literally the nicest man in show business are true. After our recording session I wanted to shoot a Vine with him, so I said “Hey, would you want to film a-” and he said “YES!” before I even got to the end of my sentence. Then he hopped on a table so he could adjust the lighting to make it better. That dude is a serious entertainer.
This is a particularly reflexive episode—at one point Stan describes Duck-Tective having “a big mystery element and a lot of humor that goes over kids heads,” while later, when the big twist on the show is revealed, Mable exclaims, “He had a twin brother all along? That’s the big twist we were waiting for?” Was it fun to address the audience like that?
It’s always fun to write the little bit of TV that the characters watch in Gravity Falls, because it’s a perfect place to poke fun at the media. Obviously this time we were poking fun at ourselves. Our fans are so good at solving mysteries that they’d figured out some of our big secrets ages ago; this was our way of letting them know we were impressed.
How has the dynamic of the storytelling changed since Great Uncle Ford was introduced? Does it make these kind of standalone stories trickier to come up with?
Dipper’s journal used to be the source of magic and the guide to mystery in the series, but now that the author has been revealed, it made sense to us that he would occasionally serve the purpose that the journal once filled. From a character point of view, the addition of Ford creates interesting new tensions and character dynamics that we’ve had fun exploring. You’ll see more of that in upcoming episodes.
What can you tease about future episodes? Since Gravity Falls has an ongoing arc, what ramifications will this episode have for episodes down the line?
Nice try, pal! A lot of the fun of Gravity Falls comes from the secrecy surrounding the plot. We want fans to be able to guess and speculate, to be surprised by twists and be engaged when they get things right. The only thing I can say about the next episode is that it will involve a situation that affects the fate of the entire town.
What should we ask Alex next time? What are you dying to know about the world of Gravity Falls? Let us know in the comments!