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Series / Phil of the Future

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"He's a 22nd century man!"

Phil of the Future is a Disney Channel Kid Com which aired from 2004 to 2006. It followed the Diffy family — Barbara, Lloyd, Phil, and Pim — who are your average 22nd century family. Which is a lot like your normal Nuclear Family, except with aliens. During their vacation through time, their time machine breaks down in the present day. The family must rough it out in the 21st century while trying to get back home — all the while not telling anyone that they're from the future. (Well, anyone except Keely Teslow, Phil's 21st century love interest.)

Kickstarted the career of Alyson Michalka (who played Keely), who eventually formed Aly & A.J. with her younger sister A.J. This was the last Disney Channel Original Series that wasn't produced by It's a Laugh Productions and thus being filmed in a single-camera format and lacking a Laugh Track until Stuck in the Middle premiered in 2016, which almost certainly explains why it was cancelled after a mere 43 episodes, in favor of all the other shows that were.

This series provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: In "Doggie Day-Care," Rodney Dangerfield (in one of his final roles) guest-stars as the voice of a dog.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Pim finds her soul mate in a classmate who shares her penchant for pranks and loses all interest when he saves her from a humiliating scene instead of making fun of her.
  • Alpha Bitch: Candida.
  • Appeal to Obscurity: Lloyd says this in "Christmas Break".
    Lloyd: If Phil didn't mess up the controls, we would have been stuck in a massive time storm!!! Like what happened to the Jabensons on their last time travel trip!!!
    Phil: Who are the Jabensons?
    Lloyd: Exactly
  • The Alternet: Phil introduces Keely to the Giggle, "the thing, that replaced the thing, that replaced the thing that killed the Internet in a pay-per-view battle royal" in the future Phil hails from. It's a helmet with a screen on it that contains all of mankind's knowledge up to 2121 and constantly updates itself when information changes.
  • Artistic License – Physics: In "Good Phil Hunting", Pim can (apparently without the use of any gadgets) build up enough of a static charge to go all Emperor Palpatine on anyone who touches her. Pim being Pim, she ends up using it to get revenge on Candida.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Keely implies in "Christmas Break" that maybe the reason the Diffy's time machine broke down is because it was meant to be.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Series ends on cliffhanger of the Diffys going back to the present again after realizing they forgot to take Kurt back to the Prehistoric era, but otherwise it's clear they're not gonna see anyone from the present again after their little detour.
    • To add to that, Doug Tuber (one of the creators) confirms that he and his writing partner Tim Maile (The other creator) were hired by Disney to write the Phil of the Future finale movie. Doug says it was a very detailed and funny and romantic outline. Disney decided not to produce it, and thus the series ends with the Diffy's going back to present to their small errand, and supposedly returning to the future for good after that.
  • Casual Time Travel: The Diffy's went on vacation... through time. In a used time machine that looks like an RV.
  • Class Clown: Owen. He put a can of snakes into the class time capsule to "keep the future smiling."
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Pim displays this. A lot of this:
    Pim (trying to sell the Diffys' house): Notice the staircase, which doubles as a toddler-friendly double black diamond toboggan run.
  • Contemporary Caveman: Curtis
  • Crush Filter: Phil sees Keely this way after they get together in "Back to the Future." He waves a hand around to make sure that it's just him and that the whole world isn't moving in slow-motion. Nope, just Crush Filter.
  • Dance of Romance: Once in "Neander-Phil" and again in "Get Ready to Go-Go." Both for Phil and Keely.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pim. Occasionally Phil.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: A conversation in which Keely calls herself Phil's girlfriend, and Phil says he wants to be her boyfriend.
  • Disappeared Dad: Keely's father
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Lil Danny Dawkins. He's not always nice though.
  • Egg Sitting: Pim gets paired up with her enemy to take care of a sack of flour. They figure it's an easy A (because a sack of flour doesn't do much) until Barb insists they treat it like a real child. Hilarity Ensues as she and her partner start arguing over their fake relationship issues and how to raise their "child." They eventually end up in a tug-of-war over the flour sack and burst it all over the school hallway... just as the teacher walks by.
  • Embarrassing First Name: In the episode "Christmas Break" Pim asks Phil "What kind of name is Keely" and Phil responds "Asks Pim".
  • End-of-Series Awareness: In the series finale called "Back to the Future (Not the Movie)" , Lloyd finally fixes the time machine just as Phil and Keely are about to become a couple and a law in the future called "Thanks to the Diffy's" is approved to apply restrictions on time travel that reflect on the series cancellation.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: Keely in the episode "Good Phil Hunting". At least at the beginning of the episode.
  • Everyone Can See It: Phil and Keely. The catalyst for their Relationship Upgrade is being named "Cutest Couple" in the yearbook. Which was voted on by the entire school.
  • Expository Theme Tune: "Meet a boy named Phil and his family, on vacation from the 22nd century...". Here it is.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Lloyd purposefully procrastinated/sabotaged the systems because the family enjoyed the 21st century so much. He really could've just fixed it at any time.
  • Fate Drives Us Together: Implied with Phil and Keely at several points, including Keely placing her childhood music box into the school's time capsule that is later found by Phil's mother and used when he was a baby.
  • First Kiss: Phil Diffy is Keely's first kiss.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Keely doesn't remember meeting Phil in "Christmas Break."
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: One of the Wizard's powers;
    • One ep, it switches Curtis and Phil's personalities when it malfunctions.
    • Lloyd makes Phil and Pim switch bodies to give them a "Versa Day".
  • Freudian Slip: Keely in the episode “Dinner Time” when she said “See you at lunch, Sweetie Pie” to Phil.
    • Also the "I want to be your boyfriend/girlfriend" conversation from "Tia, Via, or Me..uh"
  • The Glomp: Phil and Keely share many hug's of this variety during the series. Sometimes even two in one episode "Good Phil Hunting".
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: Phil creates a picnic of things that remind him of Keely in "Happy Nird-Day".
  • Happy Dance: Phil and Keely each do one of these after they make plans to go to the dance together in "Get Ready To Go Go".
  • Happily Ever After: Phil and Keely get together in the finale episode "Back To The Future (Not The Movie)". Word of God also makes this such.
  • High School: Most of the scenes take place at school. Unusual in the fact that it's a junior/senior high school; Phil and Pim attend the same school despite Pim starting off the series in 7th grade and Phil in 9th.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: At the end of the episode “Halloween” and “Broadcast Blues”.
  • Holding Hands: Phil and Keely in the finale episode "Back To The Future (Not The Movie)". After they decide they want a Relationship Upgrade, they try holding hands. Except they can't get the logistics right and it's awkward.
  • Idol Singer: Aly & AJ (Now known as 78violet), one half of which is the show's female lead, Alyson Michalka.
  • It Runs On Nonsenseoleum: Milk engines were invented in 2075 after oil ran out. This causes issues when Phil enters one in a science fair in 2004, well before it was invented and Phil has no proof that he'd designed it. It's alluded to in a Continuity Nod when Lloyd remarks in a flashback that a ringing landline phone sounds like a robot is out of cheese.
    • No alloy in existence can jam a Wizard's signal, except for pudding. They're defenseless against pudding.
  • Just Friends: Phil and Keely until the season 2 finale (which ended up being series finale).
  • Killed Off for Real: Debbie, although she appeared in later episodes, meaning the "death" was probably non-canon.
    • Of course, afterwards it's implied she's somehow lurking within Pim, but nothing ever comes out of it.
  • The Lady's Favour: The salt and pepper shakers from "Back to the Future (Not the Movie)"
  • Laugh Track: Notably averted.
  • Large Ham: The guy who plays Messerschmitt quite obviously has way too much fun with every single line he says, especially in "The Giggle" when discussing the Omicron Gambit, his legendarily hard... make-up test. It's all Played for Laughs, of course.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Phil and Keely get together in "Back To The Future (Not The Movie)".
  • Married in the Future: Heavy implied for Phil and Keely in "The Giggle."
  • The Matchmaker: Keely in "Stuck in the Meddle with You." She's not very good at it.
  • May–December Romance: Accidentally and Played for Laughs in "Age Before Beauty." When Keely ages herself with a future device and catches the romantic attention of Vice Principal Hackett, Phil must step in and pretend to be her boyfriend to deter him. Unfortunately, he accidentally ages himself to about 80, to Keely's 20-something.
  • Meet Cute: Phil and Keely, though Keely didn't know. The entire episode "Christmas Break" is devoted to how they met. Keely was the Pickford Yuletide Star Princess in charge of the town's yule star (obviously) to be used in a tree lighting ceremony. Pim breaks the glass Yule star, and Phil, feeling badly about it, goes back in time to fix it. Through a series of unfortunate events, he ends up going back in time several times to save the star, eventually succeeding. Keely finds this sweet, Pim...not so much:
    Keely (about the Christmas tree star): Ooh, that's my favorite part.
    Phil: I know, you were the Pickford Yuletide Star Princess, after all.
    Keely: That's right! Wait... we didn't even know each other then. How did you know about that?
    Phil: Well... you see... I actually met you before you met me.
    Pim: Met her? You followed her around like a pathetic puppy.
    Keely: Really?
    Pim: He was like 'Oh, we have to help the pretty crying girl!'
  • Namesake Institution: Befitting a show about time-travelers, the teens attend H. G. Wells High, Science Fiction author of several books, mainly The Time Machine.
  • New Job Episode: Lloyd and Curtis both get jobs at the local hardware store in the episode "Versa Day".
  • Noodle Incident: The last time Keely tried to "assist" (read: matchmake) a couple, with the former couple still crying about it whenever they appear.
    Phil: No real harm done? The guy still can't carry his own lunch tray!
  • Old-Fashioned Fruit Stomping: One episode has Phil's class going on a field trip to stomp grapes, which worries Phil because he, like everyone else from the future, has only four toes on each foot. To avoid being found out, he wears fake prosthetic toes on the trip, but they fall off while he's squishing, and Hilarity Ensues.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The greenmia disease in "Ill of the Future" changes the personalities of those infected to the opposite: Phil and Lloyd become chronic liars, Pim a perfect and perky daughter, and Barb a slovenly shrew. Based on Phil and Pim's reactions, they're fully aware of the changes but can't help themselves. Their skin also turns green (hence the name), which actually lasts longer than the personality changes.
  • The Power of Love: Phil and Keely. From two different centuries. Yet they end up together. That's The Power of Love.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Keely gives these to Phil in episode “Age Before Beauty”, "The Giggle" and "Dinner Time." Phil is aware he's being manipulated, but can't resist them.
  • Put on a Bus: Tia, Bradley Benjamin Farmer, Debbie, and Seth Wassmer stop appearing as much in later episodes.
  • Quote Mine: The episode "Pim-Cipal" had Principal Pim create a video for the students to justify firing Vice-Principal Hackett. The editing was very obvious.
    Pim: ...Get a load of this.
    Hackett (video): The students here — are all losers. — So I've — taken every cent of the school budget and spent it on — spa treatments — for myself. — Ha! — Suckers! Hahaha!
    Danny (video): I'm Neil Hackett.
    Hackett (video): and I approve — of this message.
    Phil: And who's going to believe that.
    <shocked outrage from nearby students>
  • Race for Your Love: Phil and Keely end up doing this in the final episode, though with far different results. Keely suddenly changes her mind about seeing Phil and his family back to the future and runs to catch their time machine before it leaves. She's unsuccessful. The second time is Phil, who has his father return their time machine to about five minutes before Keely does her race and he catches her at school to say goodbye (cue The Big Damn Kiss)
  • Red String of Fate: Played with with Phil and Keely. In "Time Release Capsule", Keely puts her own childhood music box in the school's time capsule; Phil's mom finds it a century later and plays it for him as a baby. It's revealed in "Christmas Break" that Phil was the one who broke the time machine, but that if he hadn't stopped to help Keely, the family would have been caught in a massive time-storm and gotten lost forever.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless / Plot Technology: Justified, since they have to maintain the masquerade and minimize their impact on the outcome of history, they can only use the future tech to solve the day's problems.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Phil and Keely in the season 2 finale which ended up being the series finale "Back To the Future (Not The Movie)".
  • The Rival: Bradley Benjamin Farmer and Candida are rivals of Pim.
  • School Clubs Are Serious Business: H.G. Well's budget for extracurriculars is astronomical and the level of seriousness given is hilarious. Pim hosts a tele-a-thon in one episode to "find a cure" for the science club's pet rat. Keely goes undercover in another episode to write a story on dirty mop water for the school news station.
  • Signature Headgear: Keely loves wearing flowers in her hair, as the viewer can see and as Phil mentions in "Happy Nirday".
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: After Season 2 started airing, reruns of all Season 1 episodes featured the Season 2 version of the theme song for undisclosed reasons.
  • School Newspaper News Hound: It's a news show rather than a newspaper, but Keely definitely fits the bill.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: In the Halloween episode, Debbie chases Phil and Keely through a school hallway. They go in and out of doors trying to dodge her.
  • Secret-Keeper: Keely's the only one (other than the Diffys themselves, of course) who knows the truth about where they come from.
  • Ship Tease: In. Every. Single. Episode. Culminating in Phil and Keely getting together in the finale.
  • Sick Episode: The Diffy's in "Ill of the Future". Vice Principal Neil Hackett in "Mummy's Boy".
  • Show Within a Show: "Who Wants To Marry A Dentist?" in the episode "Future Jock". "The Lost and the Lonely" in the episode "Double Trouble".
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few.
    • Phil's present-day High School is named after H. G. Wells. That is, the author of The Time Machine.
    • There are also various examples in episode titles, like "Good Phil Hunting" and "It's a Wonder-Phil Life".
    • As well, in "Good Phil Hunting", Hackett is briefly shown writing equations on a clear, glassy surface, mimicking similar memorable moments from A Beautiful Mind and Good Will Hunting.
      • In the same episode, Hackett asks Phil what the first rule of AV club is. Naturally, it's "Don't talk about AV club." There's also a reference to Fermat's Last Theorem; apparently a problem known as Foucalt's Last Conundrum is highly difficult in the present day, but is basic material in 2121's third grade.
      • When Mr. Hackett wakes up from the shock of Keeley "solving" said Conundrum:
      Mr. Hackett: I had such a... strange dream... You were there, you were there, you, and you... (to scarecrow) you I don't recognise.
    • In "Dinner Time", Barb's trying to prepare a typical American dinner party. Her research leads her to believe that it should be 50's style, right down to the clothes. Phil ends up looking like Fonzie, right down to flashing the classic double thumbs up right after being zapped with the Wizard and immediately lampshading it.
    • "Dinner Time" also slips in a reference to The Wizard of Oz, when a pair of prospective buyers for the Diffy house ask if it has suffered a twister of "Oz or greater magnitude".
    • The Series Finale is called Back to the Future (Not The Movie) as a reference both to the movie, the fact that the Diffys are able to return home, and that this finale is the length of a normal episode instead of Big Damn Movie.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Phil and Keely in the final episode. Given that they were pretty darn cute to begin with, the Relationship Upgrade jacks it up to eleven.
  • Sleep Cute: Phil and Keely fall asleep next to each other on the sofa while studying in the episode "The Giggle"
  • Squee: When Phil and Keely kiss in "Back To The Future (Not The Movie)".
  • Stalker with a Crush: Lil Danny Dawkins has one on Pim.
    • Hackett's behavior toward Veronica veered into stalker territory when he camped out on her front lawn and was awoken by the sprinklers.
  • Sweetie Graffiti: "Phil + Keely" written on the tree in "Time Release Capsule."
  • Temporal Sickness: The reason Pim couldn't help Phil in "Christmas Break" after a few jumps through the past.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Phil and Keely's kiss in "Back to the Future." Since it happened during Keely's daily newscast, the kiss is broadcast on the school's CCTV and get a standing ovation from the entire student body.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: They play with the concept of Temporal Mutability a lot, most notably in "Time Release Capsule" and "My Not-So-Great Great-Great-Grampa".
  • Title Drop: During "Maybe-Sitting" after Phil's mind has been regressed to a five-year-old. While playing, he dons a makeshift superhero outfit.
    Phil: I'm Phil of the Future!
  • Title Sequence Replacement: After Season 2 started airing, reruns of all Season 1 episodes had the Season 2 opening retroactively in place of the first.
  • Training Montage: Phil and Keely have one in "The Giggle", to prepare for the Omicron Gambit, Messerschmitt's painfully difficult make-up test.
  • Twice Shy: Why it takes Phil and Keely the entire length of the show to get together, despite both being painfully obvious about their feelings.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Pim, in the aptly-named "Pim-cipal" episode.
  • Uncanny Valley Girl: Debbie Berwick. A non-canon episode shows she's actually an evil robot bent on world domination via cupcakes.
  • Undercover as Lovers: At one point, Phil and Keely use the Wizard to masquerade as his parents to fool their snooping neighbor, Mr. Hackett.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Diamonds are a waste product in the future, but aluminum foil is apparently invaluable.
    • Very much justified. Aluminum is valuable even today (which is the motive behind pop tab collections), while diamonds are easily manufactured from common carbon.
      • While it makes sense for diamonds to be dirt cheap in the future, it does not make sense for them to be a waste product. Diamonds are useful cutting tools due to their unparalleled hardness. The only way they would become garbage is if someone invented a synthetic mineral that was even harder than diamond and at least as cheap.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Principal Hackett thinks the Diffy's are aliens.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: In "Broadcast Blues", Keely's news segment as designed by Pim is called "Keely's Korner".
  • You Are the New Trend: In the episode "Broadcast Blues" everything Keely wears on her news reports becomes a new trend.
  • Young Future Famous People: Though the youthful famous person is fictional, Phil runs into the inventor of the Wizard in his high school during a career placement test.