- “Dad, is that the box from my room? I think I put my Mary McGuffin doll in there by mistake!”
- ―Candace Flynn
When Lawrence accidentally sells Candace's doll to Doofenshmirtz, Phineas and Ferb become detectives to try and find it.
At the Flynn-Fletcher house, Lawrence and Linda are putting on a yard sale. It turns out that Linda was going to sell her Lindana records but snatched them from a man who was looking at them. Phineas and Ferb ask Lawrence if they could watch his black and white detective films. Lawrence allows them when Heinz Doofenshmirtz appears at Lawrence's stall. He buys a Mary McGuffin doll and walks off. Candace appears a minute later and asks Lawrence if he has seen her Mary McGuffin doll. Lawrence says he just sold her for a dollar and asks if Candace wants it. She screams and Lawrence offers her two dollars.
Doofenshmirtz arrives at Charlene's house and asks for Vanessa. Doofenshmirtz hands her the doll and talks about how he's been searching for years for the doll. Vanessa, surprised at her dad's act of love, thanks him and walks to her room to think.
Meanwhile, Phineas and Ferb are influenced by the detective films and turn themselves and everything else black and white. Candace tells them about her doll and Phineas decides they will investigate.
At The Agency, Major Monogram is seen playing a video game. Perry is waiting for his assignment. Monogram tells him that Doofenshmirtz has been to a yard sale, bought an Inator and a box of "on-off" devices. Carl tells him that they're called "switches". Perry's chair turns into a big ball (like a bowling ball) and rolls down a chute.
The boys and Candace interview Lawrence, asking him who he sold the toy to. Lawrence tries to describe Doofenshmirtz, "German accent, lab coat". Phineas and Ferb go to a lab coat shop and interrogate people there. One of the men says he doesn't know anything but then Ferb "leans" on him. He tells them there is a guy who puts all of the costs on his ex-wife's tab. He gives them the address and Phineas tells Ferb to pack up the studio.
Back in Vanessa's room, she starts thinking about the times her dad has embarrassed her and times when he has made her day. She really appreciates her gift and puts it on her shelf with her other toys. When she closes the door, the doll falls near a box of junk. Vanessa walks downstairs, unaware of what happened and logs on to her laptop. Charlene answers the door and it is a man who works for Charitable Charities. Charlene asks Vanessa where her box of junk was and she goes to Vanessa's room. She assumes that the Mary McGuffin doll is part of the junk and puts it in the box. Charlene hands the box to the man and he puts it in the truck. Vanessa realizes that her doll was in the box and runs after the man just as Phineas, Ferb and Candace walk up to her house. Phineas interrogates Charlene and she tells them that the doll was in the box to be sent to a Charitable Charities somewhere. The group start looking around all of the Charitable Charities around but can't find Mary.
Doofensmirtz is in his building and has bought lots of things from yard sales. He is trying to find a switch to fit his Inator when Perry comes in. Doofenshmirtz activates the lobster trap that he got for free and tells Perry what he is doing. The switches he tries are too big or too small until he comes across the right one. He places it upside-down and complains that the writing is even printed upside-down. Doofenshmirtz realizes he put it upside-down and turns it around. He then turns on his invention but Perry's trap opens. Perry climbs out whilst Doofenshmirtz is still wondering why the Inator isn't switching on. He then turns around and sees the switch opening and closing the trap. He now knows why the trap was free. After a brief fight, Doofenshmirtz realizes that he can't do anything evil with a machine that just opens and closes a lobster trap so Perry can go home. Perry gives a thumbs-up to Doofenshmirtz and leaves.
Phineas, Ferb and Candace are in the last Charitable Charities shop when Candace spots Mary McGuffin. Candace grabs the doll at the same time Vanessa does. They fight over the doll and the doll flies into the air into Sally's hand. She instantly loves it and Candace says she's too old for dolls now. Vanessa wonders if she should give up the one thing that proves how much her dad cares for her, then snatches it from Sally's hands. Sally starts to cry. Vanessa phones her dad, while he's cutting a carrot. He's proud of Vanessa for committing an evil act and says that they could build on this.
- Not So Bad A Dad
First and last verse of Not So Bad A Dad
The "Too Young" Line
Charlene: Aren't you a little young to be detectives?
Phineas: If it's all the same to you, ma'am, we'll ask the questions.
Charitable Charities Man: Aren't you a little young to know about all these old detective shows?
Phineas: Yes, yes we... Pauses and puts on sunglasses in a Horatio Caine like fashion. ...are.
Seeing Candace and Vanessa start fighting over the doll.
Ferb: This is exactly why they took that doll off the market.
Perry's entrance to his lair
He is seen in his lair, Monogram is playing a videogame
I know what we're gonna do today
Candace: Detectives. Perfect. I know what you're gonna do today. Track down my little Mary McGuffin!
Phineas: Piece of cake. (Ferb gives him a piece of chocolate cake) Ooh, chocolate! Thanks, Ferb. (to Candace) We'll have your little Mary McGuffin back here faster than you can say-hey, where's Perry?
Doofenshmirtz Ex-Wife's House on a Hill Somewhere! and Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated! in CSI: Miami style.
Candace: Dad! Dad! Wait! Dad, is that the box from my room?
Lawrence: Why, yes. Um-
Vanessa: Dad, what are you doing here? This isn't your weekend.
Dr. Doofenshmirtz: Yes, yes I know, but I have a surprise for you and I just couldn't wait!
Carl: Sir, Agent P is here.
Major Monogram: I can see that, Carl. Now, get back in that corner until I say you can get up. There's still 15 minutes left on the clock.
Dr. Doofenshmirtz: Remember how you said if I got you a little Mary McGuffin doll, I'd be the world's greatest dad?
Vanessa: Yeah, when I was like seven.
Dr. Doofenshmirtz: You know, I may be an evil scientist, but it doesn't take a degree purchased from the internet with your ex-wife's money to know how special and important you are to me!
Dr. Doofenshmirtz: Well, I'd better run. I bought a used "inator" today at a garage sale and it's missing one small part.
Vanessa: Really, what does it do?
Phineas: Piece of cake.
Pause. Ferb hands him a piece of cake.
Doofenshmirtz: Time to find out what this bad boy can do! Flicks switch on On!
Lid of Perry's cage opens and Perry climbs out and stands beside Doofenshmirtz
Phineas: The sun beat down on the city like a hammer, a relentless hot beating hammer hammering down like a big metaphor that was... hot, for some reason.
Candace: Stop with the narration and start finding my doll!
Phineas: For an average Joe, he gave us an above-average clue. Our next step was clear.
Lawrence: Who is he talking to?
Vanessa : Wait! Sam, I want to recant a portion of my mother's charitable donation!
Charlene: Are you with the census?
Phineas: No, ma'am, today we're detectives.
Dr. Doofenshmirtz: Oh, man, how many different kinds of on/off switches can there be? I mean, look at this. An octagon? And one shaped like the Statue of Liberty? That doesn't even make sense. Oh, and here's one. The exact same size and shape that I'm looking for except it's upside-down. I mean, the words are actually printed upside-down. What kind of a dummkopf would invent an upside-down... switch...that... (Pauses, sighs, and flips the switch so that it's right-side-up.) I did it!
Candace: Oh, forget it. I guess I'm too old for dolls anyway.
Vanessa: Yeah, maybe I don't really have to have the one object my dad spent years to find in order to show me his affection.
Dr. Doofenshmirtz: (talking to Vanessa on the phone) So you just took it from the little girl and left her there crying? Wow, that is evil! Honey, I am so proud of you! It felt good didn't it? Yeah, we can build on this.
- When Doofenshmirtz screamed "Score!" he looked right in the camera, breaking the fourth wall.
- Ferb, however, didn't react being in love when he saw Vanessa in this episode, but, when Vanessa goes out of her home, Ferb stares at her.
- While Charlene was listening to Vanessa complain about her doll being missing, she seemed to be reading the same book Ferb is usually seen reading.
- One of the yard sale items Doofenshmirtz bought is a Bango-ru doll.
- Charlene reads the same book Ferb read in "Rollercoaster".
- The man with the accent, who also appears when Doofenshmirtz "goes out of his way to catch that foul ball", is one of the people watching the concert Phineas and Ferb host to bring home Perry in "Oh, There You Are, Perry".
- Unnamed Charitable Charities worker who asks Phineas if he is too young to know about "all these old detective films" looks eerily similar to the worker who listed the Climby toys (Climbin' Simon, Ascendin' Brendon, Ladderman Larry, Climby Jaimie) in "Toy to the World". This man was also used for "Unfair Science Fair" and "What Do It Do?".
- During the scene where Doofenshmirtz "wore all that fringe" in Not So Bad A Dad, Doofenshmirtz is wearing the same outfit he wore from when he was singing Yodel Odel Obey Me in "Bubble Boys".
- Phineas and Ferb are wearing the same sunglasses they wore during History of Rock from "Dude, We're Getting the Band Back Together".
- The Retro Pharmacist Emporium from "Run Away Runway" was seen in this episode.
- The 70's style music from "Isabella and the Temple of Sap" is heard.
- Ben Baxter from "Flop Starz" reappears.
- Balthazar Horowitz makes another appearance, during the "foul ball" flashback.
- This episode premiered in the UK on October 18, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. (British Summer time) on Disney XD.
- When the lobster trap falls on Perry it opened and closed from the bottom. When Doofenshmirtz was accidentally opening and closing the trap, it opened from the top.
- When Phineas and Ferb are talking to Vanessa's mother, Ferb's left eye (the one facing us as viewers) is bigger.
- When Ferb packs up the interrogation scene in the Labcoat Emporium, the table and chair folds with it, yet when he packs up the interrogation scene after questioning Vanessa's mother, they remain unfolded.
- When Doofenshmirtz said he didn't understand why the lobster trap came free with the Inator, surely he would have noticed the cable connecting the two of them when he bought it.
- Vanessa calls the Mary McGuffin doll a "piece of plastic" ("Not So Bad A Dad") When the doll is a plush doll.
- Doofenshmirtz mentions his Lawn Gnome flashback from "Lawn Gnome Beach Party of Terror", and that he purchased his degree, a fact first revealed in "I Scream, You Scream".
- Lindana's record is seen among the records at the start. In fact, it's exactly the same record shown in "Flop Starz". The elevator music version is heard during that scene.
- Vanessa was expecting a car, just like she asked of Doofenshmirtz before in "Vanessassary Roughness".
- Heinz mentions that Perry has keys to Doofenshmirtz's house. He mentioned this in the earlier episode "Lights, Candace, Action!"
- Monogram is seen playing video-games like in "That Sinking Feeling".
- Vanessa is listening to I'm Me from "Vanessassary Roughness".
- Dragnet - When Phineas tells Charlene Doofenshmirtz that "If it's all the same to you, ma'am, we'll ask the questions.", this would be considered a tribute to Jack Webb's Sgt. Joe Friday character in the TV series and movie Dragnet where he portrayed a no-nonsense cop, usually adding that he wanted "just the facts, ma'am." The role was inherited to Dan Ackroyd in a 1988 movie remake, and then to Ed O'Neill in a 2000s TV series revival.
- During the montage of Charitable Charities interviews, Phineas and Ferb are seen dressed respectively as David Starsky and Kenneth Hutchinson (Starsky and Hutch), James "Sonny" Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs (Miami Vice), and Horatio Caine and Erik Delko (CSI: Miami).
- Starsky and Hutch - Though the car driven by Detectives Ken Hutchinson and Dave Starsky was a 1974 Ford Gran Torino, the one driven by Phineas and Ferb was an AMC Javelin.
- CSI: Miami - Phineas did Horatio Caine's sunglasses gag and the screaming where the boys are traveling on the air-boat is the same as the start of its theme tune, Won't Get Fooled Again by The Who.
- The title and doll refers to a MacGuffin, a term coined by Alfred Hitchcock to describe a common item whose single, sole purpose is to drive the plot of the episode forward, either directly or indirectly. The Macguffin Doll would be a good example of said object.
- Cherry Merry Muffin - "Mary MacGuffin" doll may be in reference to the popular "Cherry Merry Muffin" dolls of the 80's.
- Cabbage Patch Kids, Jingle All The Way and Tickle Me Elmo - The scarcity of the Mary McGuffin doll is like that of the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls of the early 1980s. The manufacturer was not prepared for the overnight popularity of the doll, so store riots broke out as parents fought over the small supply of that year's must-have Christmas gift. This would be spoofed in the 1987 movie Jingle All the Way starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad. A similar craze in 1996 involving another toy - in this case, Tickle Me Elmo - led to similar results.
- Family Guy - The lost doll plot is similar to Family Guy episode "Road to Rupert", which Dan Povenmire directed.
- Rugrats: All Grown Up - The Plot is also similar to an episode of the Nickelodeon show Rugrats: All Grown Up, in which Angelica Pickles loses her Cynthia doll after her mom sells it, as well as an episode of Disney Channel's Even Stevens called "Where in the World is Pookie Stevens?" in which Ren's Pookie doll accidentally drops into a box that is taken down to their family's yard sale and prompts her younger brother to search for it.
- The title is similar to Disney/Pixar's hit Finding Nemo.
- Finding Mary March - The title is similar to this minor 1988 movie. Mary March seems to have started the title trend of: Finding + someone.
- When Vanessa recalls her dad going "out of [his] way to catch that foul ball," they are shown in the first row along the left field side at a baseball game, robbing a player in white with a blue hat and sleeves from making a catch in foul ground. This is a clear reference to the Bartman play in Game 6 of the Cubs/Marlins 2003 NLCS series.
- The music when Phineas and Ferb visited the first Charitable Charities location, the music sounded familiar to the song Racetrack 3000 by The Swivelheadz.
- Vincent Martella as Phineas
- Thomas Sangster as Ferb
- Ashley Tisdale as Candace
- Caroline Rhea as Mom
- Richard O'Brien as Dad
- Dee Bradley Baker as Perry
- Dan Povenmire as Dr. Doofenshmirtz
- Jeff "Swampy" Marsh as Major Monogram
- Olivia Olson as Vanessa
- Allison Janney as Charlene
- Meira Blinkoff as Sally (uncredited)
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