Meet the New Quirky FOX Fam­ily

Exec pro­duced by Mike and Julie Scully and Amy Poehler, Dun­canville is the lat­est ad­di­tion to FOX-TV’s menagerie of lov­able an­i­mated come­dies.

Animation Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Ramin Za­hed

Exec pro­duced by Mike and Julie Scully and Amy Poehler, Dun­canville is the lat­est ad­di­tion to FOX-TV’s menagerie of lov­able an­i­mated come­dies.

Mike and Julie Scully know a few things about writ­ing and pro­duc­ing shows about an­i­mated fam­i­lies. Af­ter all, Mike has worked as writer and exec pro­ducer on that lit­tle-known show The Simp­sons since 1994, and Julie Thacker, his wife of over 20 years, has also writ­ten for the se­ries since 1999. They have also worked on shows as di­verse as Parks and Re­cre­ation, Com­plete Sav­ages, The Pitts, Napoleon Dy­na­mite and Fuller House. This month, the tal­ented cou­ple launch a brand-new, an­i­mated prime-time show on FOX-TV’s Sun­day night block called Dun­canville.

Exec pro­duced by their friend, ac­tress Amy Poehler (with whom Scully worked on Parks and Re­cre­ation), the show cen­ters on Duncan, a “spec­tac­u­larly av­er­age 15-year-old boy, his fam­ily and friends.” Poehler, who is no stranger to an­i­ma­tion (The Mighty B!, The Awe­somes, In­side Out), pro­vides the voice of the boy and his high-strung mother. Emmy nom­i­nee Rashida Jones (Parks and Re­cre­ation) voices Mia, his crush and class­mate, and Ty Bur­rell (Mod­ern Fam­ily) pro­vides the voice of Duncan’s dad on the 2D-an­i­mated show, which has been picked up for a 13-episode first sea­son on the net­work.

Mike Scully says the in­spi­ra­tion for the show goes all the way back to 2016 when he got a text from Poehler, who told the cou­ple that she wanted to cre­ate an an­i­mated show with them. “Amy had just done In­side Out for Pixar around that time, and an­i­ma­tion seemed like a fun idea,” he recalls. “We started kick­ing around some ideas and we quickly came up with Duncan. Amy wanted to do the voices for two char­ac­ters — Duncan and his mother. We tried to tell her that It was go­ing to be daunt­ing. We told her, ‘Do you know what you’re get­ting into?’ But she in­sisted.”

Help from Ed Sheeran

Af­ter they pitched the show to Fox in May of 2017, the net­work fast-tracked it, and the se­ries got picked up in Novem­ber of 2018. “We’ve been pro­duc­ing the show with Bento Box (Bob’s Burg­ers) for the past year,” says Julie Scully. “Bento did the eight-minute pre­sen­ta­tion for the net­work, and they or­dered 13 episodes.”

The Scullys ad­mit that their orig­i­nal pitch was a bit more un­usual than most. “We didn’t have a par­tic­u­lar vis­ual style in mind, be­cause we can’t draw,” says Mike. “Once it was de­cided to go with Bento Box, they worked on dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter de­signs and po­ten­tial looks for the show. There was a lot of back and forth. But when we were pitch­ing to FOX, we didn’t have any draw­ings to show the net­work. We were talk­ing about Duncan as a teenage boy with messy red hair, and Julie found a pic­ture of teenage Ed Sheeran on the in­ter­net and a pic­ture of Dave Grohl (lead singer of the band Foo Fight­ers) and that’s what we used as vis­ual aid for Duncan and his best friend!”

Dun­canville fol­lows the daily lives of Duncan Har­ris, who seems to be al­ways one step away from mak­ing a bad de­ci­sion; his mom, a park­ing en­force­ment of­fi­cer who dreams of be­ing a de­tec­tive some­day; his dad, his 12-year-old sis­ter (Riki Lind­homme) and Jing (Joy Os­man­ski), his six-year-old sis­ter, who of­ten pro­vides the voice of rea­son in the fam­ily!

Ac­cord­ing to the Scullys, what makes the show stand out is that the kids are older than

the usual char­ac­ters we see in an­i­mated sit­coms. “Bart and Lisa on The Simp­sons are 10 and eight, for ex­am­ple, and Tina on Bob’s Burg­ers is 12 I be­lieve. ” says Mike. “Duncan is 15, and we’re try­ing to cap­ture that pe­riod in your life where you can taste adult­hood, in­de­pen­dence and free­dom, but you don’t have any of it. You have your learner’s per­mit, but you have to have your mom in the car with you!”

“We talked about That 70s Show, where To­pher Grace’s char­ac­ter was in the mid­dle of his friends and par­ents,” adds Mike “We used that as a model, but we lean more on the fam­ily than they did.” Julie points out, “We also have a great mom char­ac­ter, who has a ca­reer and, like most Amer­i­can women, she makes 70 cents on the male coun­ter­part!”

OK, Boomer!

When they were dis­cussing the char­ac­ter of Duncan’s dad, Poehler sug­gested that he should be like Mike Scully. When Mike asked her what she meant, Poehler re­sponded, “You know how you can take any con­ver­sa­tion and turn it into a bor­ing story about Bruce Spring­steen? That’s what I mean!”

The cou­ple, who have five grown daugh­ters (be­tween the ages of 29 and 37 years old), mined some of the ex­pe­ri­ences of rais­ing them, as well as their own teenage years, for the show. They also re­lied on re­al­life sto­ries from Poehler, who has two sons who are ap­proach­ing their teenage years. “What was re­ally im­por­tant for us was to have char­ac­ters that the au­di­ence would care about,” says Julie. “Shake­speare’s sto­ries are still be­ing told to­day be­cause you care about the char­ac­ters.” Mike adds, “If the story is emo­tion­ally grounded, can be cra­zier with the sto­ry­line. You want the au­di­ence to see a lit­tle bit of them­selves and their fam­i­lies in it. Tech­nol­ogy and clothes and hair, that kind of stuff changes, but the emo­tional parts — the in­se­cu­ri­ties, the awk­ward­ness — those things stay the same.

As an ex­am­ple, Mike de­scribes the show’s pi­lot episode. “We find out that Duncan has his driver’s per­mit, but he never asks to drive the car, which drives his fa­ther crazy be­cause when he was a kid that’s all he ever dreamed of,” ex­plains Mike. “There are still kids now that can’t wait to start driv­ing, but there are also kids that don’t care that much about it be­cause they feel self-driv­ing cars are com­ing and even­tu­ally they’ll have their own Uber ac­count. Why do I need to drive? We wanted to play into that and also wanted to find a rea­son that Duncan de­cides he re­ally wants to drive, which is be­cause of his crush on his friend Mia.”

Un­like Duncan, Mia is very po­lit­i­cally aware and so­cially con­scious. She’s al­ways on her way to a protest or a so­cial cause. “She awak­ens Duncan’s so­cial con­scious­ness,” says Mike.

“The teens on the show are a di­verse mix. They have cell phones , which you don’t see a lot in an­i­ma­tion. We didn’t want to pre­tend that they don’t ex­ist, but we also didn’t want them to be con­stantly look­ing down on their screens. There’s a char­ac­ter named Yangzi, played by Yas­sir Lester, who is very plugged in so­cial me­dia-wise. We are try­ing to rep­re­sent all dif­fer­ent types of teenager.”

Julie also brings up the fact that the show has a very di­verse cast. “Our fam­ily has an adopted daugh­ter named Jing,” she says. “We don’t re­ally talk about it, we don’t have an ori­gin story [for Jing’s adop­tion]. Fam­i­lies look dif­fer­ent now and it’s nice to have a char­ac­ter like that as a mat­ter of fact.” “Mod­ern Fam­ily re­ally opened the door to the fact that fam­i­lies look dif­fer­ent now,” adds Mike.

In­ter­est­ingly enough, nei­ther Mike or Julie ever thought they would find a ca­reer in an­i­ma­tion when they were grow­ing up.“We loved an­i­ma­tion as kids, the Warner Bros. car­toons and all that, but it wasn’t our goal,” says Mike. “We got very lucky when we stum­bled into The Simp­sons. We learned a tremen­dous amount not just about writ­ing for an­i­ma­tion but com­edy writ­ing in gen­eral from that ex­pe­ri­ence.”

For now, they have pretty ba­sic goals for what they’ll achieve with Dun­canville. “We hope au­di­ences will laugh,” says Mike. “We hope they like the char­ac­ters and want to come back and see them again the fol­low­ing week. And we hope they all want to buy their t-shirts.” “We also want to look good to our three grand­kids,” adds Julie with a laugh. ◆

Dun­canville pre­mieres on FOX-TV on Sun­day, Fe­bru­ary 16.

‘We hope au­di­ences will laugh … We hope they like the char­ac­ters and want to come back and see them again the fol­low­ing week. And we hope they all want to buy their t-shirts.’ — Exec pro­duc­ers and cre­ators Mike and Julie Scully

All in the Fam­ily: Dun­canville fea­tures a stel­lar voice cast, in­clud­ing Amy Poehler (as Duncan and his mom!), Ty Bur­rell, Rashida Jones, Wiz Khal­ifa, Yas­sir Lester and Joy Os­man­ski.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.