It’s not every day that a show is extended for a second season before the premiere of the first season. But according to Bill Motz – his new series The ghost and Molly McGee Premiere today on Disney Channel – It’s All About the Right Ingredients.
“We really set out to do a Disney show,” says Motz, who co-developed the series with longtime friend and children’s animation writer Bob Roth. “We like the Disney experience, so we wanted to include all of the elements of classic Disney storytelling: the heart, the humor, and a little bit of horror, just for fun. Also, I feel like when you get away from a Disney movie, you feel a little better because of that experience, maybe even a little more hopeful. We wanted to bring all of this to the table. And I think the studios have to agree that we are right on target. “
The ghost and Molly McGee follows the unlikely friendship between a young, energetic optimist named Molly and a grumpy, introverted ghost named Scratch. When Molly and her family move into a shabby house that Scratch lives in while he works to make the city as miserable as possible, the pessimistic poltergeist curses Molly for following her every move all day, every day. But to Scratch’s extreme disappointment, Molly, with bright eyes, sees the curse as a promise of the best friendship, and suddenly Scratch realizes that he could be the one cursed.
However, as this unconventional couple spends more time together – and after Molly offers her new ghost friend their own dollhouse villa – Molly and Scratch find that they learn a lot from each other’s contrasting personalities and that maybe sticking together isn’t all that bad.
“It was clear to us from the start that we didn’t want to do a show about two people who hate each other,” says Roth. “This is a show about best friendship at its core. That doesn’t mean there aren’t times when they drive each other crazy like friends do. “
Produced by Disney Television Animation, Flixzilla Aura, and WildBrain, the 2D series began as a “fell from heaven into our laps” idea, according to Roth. But it soon began to develop into a story that Roth and Motz recognized, who they knew from personal experience.
“Bill and I really worked it out, got the pilot to talk about a scene and how Molly would have that view and Scratch would have that view and how that would lead to comedic tension and all sorts of stuff,” explains Roth. “And we realized, ‘Wait a minute. That’s you and me. ‘”
Roth and Motz have not only worked together on several projects, from Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures to The penguins of Madagascar and Kim Possible, but they have been friends for over 30 years. They first met at a summer production workshop at the University of Southern California.
“Bill is extroverted, optimistic and happy,” says Roth. “I’m introverted and pessimistic, and I’m just happy to be left alone. And that’s Molly and Scratch. When we had our friendship as a touchstone for the series, everything grew out of it and came together almost supernaturally. “
Motz adds, “It is easy to think of these polar opposites as remaining polar opposites, and one is good and the other is bad. But we have learned through our friendship that we shape each other. I tend to magically think like everyone is my buddy and it’s all great. Bob mitigates this a bit with, “Hey, maybe put some reasonable boundaries.” I think that was healthy for me. I am a better person because of my relationship with Bob, and Bob opened up to people too, seizing opportunities and opportunities. I think Bob is reluctant to admit that he is a better person because of his friendship with me. “
But not only Motz and Roth benefit creatively from a long-standing friendship in the team. Her co-executive producer Steve Loter, known for his directorial work American dragon: Jake Long and Kim Possible: A stitch in timeHe has also worked with Motz and Roth for years.
“In the relationship between the three of us, when you have an optimist and a pessimist, I bring the quirk to the table as a neighbor who comes by and never leaves and eats everything from the refrigerator,” says Loter. “It was fantastic to work on because I’ve known these guys for a long time and we can end each other’s thoughts in so many ways. With all the great elements that you could see on a Disney show, with the heart, the comedy and the narrative, we all share the same sensibility. “
Before Steve got on the project, Roth said the show’s animation already had “the Loter’s thumbprint” as Steve’s brother John was the first to draw a picture for the Scratch character. The design got stuck and the show follows the look of, as Loter puts it, “classic Hollywood cartoons of the 50s”.
“Back then it felt like every studio, Disney in particular, was creating a look that was just so rich and so beautiful,” he says. “So we have that influence there. We certainly have a modern sensibility that is interconnected. But I think the biggest inspiration, the biggest boost for the visuals is our voice actors. “
Mystical Quest and attack on TitanAshly Burch lends her voice to Molly during Aqua Teen Hunger Force‘s Dana Snyder plays Scratch. Both actors are skilled at extreme animation and exaggerated tonal expression, and it has served the show in more than just comedy.
“Both are really fantastic at what they bring,” says Loter. “Your voices have such wonderful highs and lows that you just want to fit the animation into the characterization you get that you find yourself distorting the facial expression and basically breaking the model seat hit something that is like that they said it was just so funny. “
Motz adds, “What Steve also gave us was this brilliant spin rendition, a modern sense of timing and driving expression and energy that adds even more value to the show.”
The upscale comedy and expression for The ghost and Molly McGee also comes from the fact that the three executive producers not only spent the production making a beautifully wacky series that is true to the Disney vision, but also just trying to make each other laugh.
“I think that’s what binds us together,” says Loter. “Some of the fondest memories I have are sitting in a cut bay, going through an animation and just trying to top each other with gags and jokes. We’re just trying to make things fun for ourselves. And hopefully find a way to connect with an audience. “
With so much comedy and high-impact animation, audience retention for some shows can be a challenge. But whether it’s a bottle episode for a family game night or to see Molly’s vulnerability in the spotlight when she admits she’s having a hard time making lasting friends, the story of a not-so-scary ghost and a not-so-terrifying girl that is in a not-so-scary haunted house is filled with as much sweetness and sincerity as it is creepy and silly fun.
“We leaned on what we think Disney can do best,” explains Motz. “When you say the name Disney, it conjures up this idea, this image, this feeling. We wanted to be part of that legacy and tell that kind of story. The family faces some adversity in Season 1. They face some difficult things, they have some curve balls, but the McGee family pulls together and finds a way to overcome challenges and difficulties. I hope the show is encouraging and tells people, ‘Maybe we can do these things together and get through.’ “
Roth adds, “I don’t want to spoil too much, but the friendship between Molly and Scratch will be put to the test. And I want people to cheer when they triumph. “
The ghost and Molly McGee‘s first season will also like guest stars Thank you very much‘Kelsey Grammer, UnsureNatasha Rothwell, Lady Birdby Greta Gerwig, CommunityYvette’s Nicole Brown, and joyis Jane Lynch. New episodes will be posted on Disney Channel Saturdays at 9:00 a.m. ET through November 27, and episodes will be posted on Disney + starting Wednesday, October 6th.
Victoria Davis is a full-time, freelance journalist and part-time otaku with an affinity for everything anime-related. She has covered numerous stories, from activist news to entertainment. Learn more about their work at victoriadavisdepiction.com.