The powers granted to us by the Sword of Omens (well actually, WarnerMedia) has given us an exclusive interview with Cartoon Network’s ThunderCats Roar producers, Victor Courtright and Marly Halpern-Graser!
Tell us about the early discussions you had when first creating ThunderCats Roar?
Victor: I was talking with some Warner Bros. people about possible properties they were interested in reviving and I basically had one specific show in mind and that was ThunderCats. I was so excited about the possibility of doing anything with that property, so after talking with them about the possibility of it happening, I pretty much went home and, in a bubble, just started sketching the characters, very close to what they are right now. A lot of the initial development is basically just this thing that had been lurking in the back of my head for a while, so it was a natural type of creative experience.
What changes to the new series were made from the 80’s one?
Marly: I think the biggest adjustment we made, and from what I can tell has been almost universally approved of, is that in our show Snarf does not talk.
How are the characters different from the old series to the new one?
V: I think that the biggest one is definitely Tygra. I think a lot of the original ThunderCats are very stoic, very serious hero kind of characters, and we found a lot of elements in the original characters that could be pushed to an extreme. There is a little nugget in Tygra that was a little bit less confident than some of the other characters, and we sort of expanded that out into a much more uptight and reserved older ThunderCat with a little bit more experience. But I think that it still holds from the original in some ways.
What are some of the key aspects you included in this new series for today’s viewership?
V: I love the original show. I think that obviously since that show came out in the 80’s the tone of entertainment has evolved and changed, and my own personal taste has changed too. A lot of content is so much faster and so much more jampacked with excitement and details and things like that, so I think that more than anything else, the tone of the show has been updated to track what I hope modern viewers are excited to see. It is the kind of thing that I am excited about. I really love the energy and pace of the show, you get a lot out of an eleven-minute episode that would have probably taken twice as long or four times as long to get across in the original show.
M: A lot of what we do on our show is take a story that the original show did in 22 minutes and pretty much just speed it up and cram it into eleven minutes and then try to tell the full story twice as fast.
What can those who are familiar and unfamiliar with ThunderCats expect from the new series?
V: I love the characters from the original show. I think they are super fun and I fell in love with them when I was a kid – and what we are doing is mostly exaggerating the original show and taking those characters and pushing them to extremes. But I hope that at the core they still have a lot of what was great about the original 80’s characters, especially characters like Panthro and the Thunderkittens and Cheetara and stuff like that. We sort of lean into some elements which were a lot smaller in the original and explode them up into full blown character traits. As a fan personally, I am so excited about what we are doing with these characters. I feel like it brings them to a new place and hopefully new viewers fall in love with these and eventually go back and fall in love with the 80’s ones too.
Are there any surprises for viewers to look forward to?
M: Hopefully all of the episodes are pleasantly surprising. I would say that in the first half of the first season, the storyline people should be keeping an eye out for is when the ThunderCats first meet Mumm-Ra. He is very powerful and then they defeat him and then he is not as powerful anymore, and the first chunk of episodes are about Mumm-Ra becoming powerful again and slowly becoming more of a threat and getting back to how dangerous he was when they first met him. I think people should keep an eye on that and they will be pleasantly surprised.
How are audiences so far reacting to the idea of this spinoff from the 80’s classic?
V: There are obviously fans of the 80’s show and watched the 2011 show and have an idea in their head of what ThunderCats is – and I hope that people like me, who grew up watching the show when they were kids, come around and see what we are doing with ThunderCats Roar. We have a deep love for the original content and I think that the sort of stories we are telling and the things we are doing with these characters celebrates that stuff that hasn’t been done since the 80’s show. A lot of these characters you won’t have seen since the one episode they showed up in 1985, so I think we are going well out of our way to make this a celebration of that original show and I hope that people tune in and see some of their old friends return again.
Had you watched the original series again as an adult?
V: Yes, definitely. I watched it as much as I could when I was a kid, but it was an episode here and an episode there. I didn’t really get every single episode in order. But in college I was going to school for animation and I found it again. We watched the whole thing and I was very obsessed with the sort of animation philosophy of it and the origin of it in animation history. I’ve watched it multiple of times since then.
M: I actually watched ThunderCats for the first time as an adult. I didn’t watch it as a kid. I started working at Warner Bros. Animation when they were making the 2011 version of ThunderCats. My co-workers were making that version and I grabbed some DVDs of the 80’s ThunderCats from them and started getting into it back then. So, I watched it for the first time in 2011 and then years later got to meet Victor and did this version which is really great.
Which ThunderCats character are you most like and why?
V: I think we all want to be like Lion-O, so I will say that.
M: I would say probably Tygra because I worry about things.