Executive producers Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle (Kim Possible), who have been working together at Disney for many years, talk to TV Kids about the film-based Big Hero 6: The Series.
Following the success of the animated theatrical movie in 2014, the Mouse House’s Big Hero 6 is now getting its own television series, with Maya Rudolph, Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, Alan Tudyk, Genesis Rodriguez, David Shaughnessy and Marvel’s Stan Lee reprising their roles from the feature film. The Disney Television Animation production was first introduced with an hour-long TV movie titled Baymax Returns late last year. The new show follows the adventures of teen tech genius Hiro, his friends and a robot named Baymax as they form a superhero team to protect San Fransokyo from various scientifically enhanced villains. It will premiere with two back-to-back episodes on June 9 and 10 at 9 a.m. on Disney Channel, DisneyNOW and the network’s VOD platforms. After that, episodes will debut every Saturday through September 2018.
TV KIDS: How did the decision come about to continue the Big Hero 6 story as a TV movie and series rather than a second theatrical film?
SCHOOLEY: I think when [Disney] finished the movie, everyone was like, I want to see more now! So they came to TV Animation and said, We have this great property with these great characters and clearly it sets up a series, so it’s kind of a no-brainer. They brought us in to watch the movie about a month before it came out and we obviously immediately fell in love with Baymax like everyone else, and the uniqueness of the setting. And then when you get to that ending, where it’s like, Now we’re a team and we’re going to go fight crime in the city, it’s like, Yeah, that’s a TV series—it’s pretty easy to make that leap. [While] the movie resolved a lot of heavy issues on death and revenge and all that stuff, it’s sort of left open for Hiro. He’s still young; he’s still a little reckless…. There’s a lot to keep exploring. And obviously with the other characters, they were vivid but they didn’t get a ton of screen time, so we can really focus on them individually in the series, and that’s a lot of fun.
TV KIDS: What are some of the themes/lessons explored in the show?
MCCORKLE: One of the guiding principles for us came out of the movie, when Tadashi’s about to run into that burning building and he says to Hiro, Someone has to help. And we just thought, That is a north star by which you can steer. That’s a positive thing about humanity. That should be our underlying theme; that’s why they’re doing what they do. It’s one of those things that work on the high-concept superhero level, but it can also work in the ordinary world, when Hiro faces a challenge at home or a challenge at school or is interacting with somebody and it’s not going well. That’s still the guiding principle: you’ve got to be the best person you can be. From a writing point of view, we try to have that inform every story we do [and] have that positive humanity link be the thing by which we steer.
SCHOOLEY: Selflessness is in short supply these days.
MCCORKLE: The other thing that we were excited about when we came out of the movie: Bob turned to me as we were driving away from the screening and he was like, You know, science is portrayed as a positive thing, which, so much in entertainment in recent years, it’s been dystopian or running amok or whatever.
SCHOOLEY: There was a wonder for science that I think now we take for granted. So we’re sort of recapturing that. Baymax was [Disney’s] brilliant way of doing that, making technology huggable and positive and doing good things. And then obviously it gives you the opportunity for villains to be doing the opposite with science, but for our good guys, the idea is that they’re our STEM heroes.
TV KIDS: What gives Big Hero 6: The Series international appeal?
SCHOOLEY: We’re really proud of this show and we can’t take credit for it because it comes from the movie, but the diversity of the cast, that’s just sort of a given. It’s not like anyone makes a big deal about it, but it really does have an international feel [with] the cast of characters. I think the movie was huge in Japan for obvious reasons…. The comedy—some of it is slapstick, some of it’s verbal—the action and the heart is something that translates pretty well globally.
MCCORKLE: We try not to traffic pop-culture references and things like that, so it has a bit more of a universal feeling; it is more about the characters and what they’re going through, the action and the humor. So I think maybe that does travel better around the world.