Dreamworks’ Show Runner Brendan Hay on Netflix “Dawn Of The Croods” Season 2 – Animation Scoop

Dreamworks’ Show Runner Brendan Hay on Netflix “Dawn Of The Croods” Season 2

The world’s first family returns for an all-new Season 2 in Dreamworks’ Dawn Of The Croods, premiering on Netflix this Friday, August 26th. Eep, Thunk, Grug, Ugga, Sandy and Gran return to encounter many modern-day problems – for the first time in history – as they navigate life in a prehistoric era.

Among their many new adventures, Eep sets up the first underground dance club; Grug tries to convinces the family to go on the first vacation; Thunk invents ventriloquism for the first-ever stand-up comedy show – and he tries a new fad, Slateboarding, with Eep (see clip below).

Brendan Hay is the show runner – and I spoke with him this week about his career, his work on The Simpsons, and how The Croods differentiates itself from The Flintstones.

Jackson Murphy: Comedy seems to be your forte, with The Daily Show, Frank TV, Robot Chicken and even The Simpsons under your belt. Can you believe The Simpsons is hitting 600 episodes this Fall?

Brendan Hay: No, I really can’t. It was almost 10 years ago that I worked with them. I think I was 12 when it premiered. I loved The Simpsons growing-up, and it was so informative to me. It just blows my mind. I love that it’s become an institution. It’s such a cool thing to see that every generation can get their chance to be introduced to The Simpsons.

JM: So has writing jokes really been a lifelong passion?

BH: Yeah. I’d say my two passions have always been [that] I wanted to write comedy and I wanted to write comic books. And that’s weirdly, I think, where I ended-up in animation because it’s kind of the melding of the two. Actually, The Simpsons was my first phase of working in animation, and I just loved it. It was bringing the two sides together. I was one of those people who always found his outlet in comedy for all purposes – for emotion, for catharsis, for everything. I love it.

JM: Dawn of the Croods, of course, is the spinoff series to DreamWorks’ 2013 Croods movie. But the events in this show take place before the film. Was that a difficult decision, initially, going into production – to make it a prequel series?

BH: When I first got involved with the project, that was the only limit on the show. “It can be anything you want, as long as it takes place before the first movie.” On the one hand, it was really fun. If the movie was the history’s first disaster movie, as how this family survives it, the series very quickly became…a family sitcom that would take place before all other things existed. What would be the caveman variation on the tropes we’re used to? That part was actually very freeing. The downside of being a prequel is that [The Croods] only invent fire in the movie. So, we literally take place before the invention of fire. Constantly our writer’s room is [asking], “Wait, does this exist yet?” – even just for words. We can take nothing for granted.

Brendan Hay

Brendan Hay

JM: A lot of the film was slapstick comedy-heavy, really reminiscent of The Flintstones. Have you used elements of that classic show for some of the episodes of Dawn of the Croods?

BH: Not too much. Yes, in the sense that The Flintstones is a very classic, and justifiably classic and remembered, family sitcom. So, we’re in the same genre there. However, we want to differentiate ourselves. We want to feel like our own thing. It is a little bit of sometimes asking ourselves, if The Flintstones was gonna zig, then we will zag. And one of the big ways is: The Flintstones was very much a parody of modern culture. [They] could just transplant whatever was going on in the 1960s right into the beginning of The Flintstones. We’re trying to place you more in that mindset of seeing everything in the world for the first time.

JM: It’s really challenging for many TV writers to keep things interesting as shows stay on the air for more and more years. What have you and your team amped-up now for Season 2 of Dawn of the Croods?

BH: Season 1 was our chance to establish what this other world is and flesh-out the rest of the family. The feature, only having 90 minutes, only got a chance to flesh-out half of them. Now…they live in history’s first suburbs, basically, and it’s fleshing-out the rest of the community and figuring out the friendships; what is a workplace back then? [We’re] just trying to build-out the world more so we can have more fun. It’s us trying to think ahead to – we know there will be more seasons – so we’re expanding the world so that we still have stories to tell.

JM: Some of the voice actors you’ve had on the show are incredible. I’m going to name you a few people and I want you to tell me about your experiences working with them. Dee Bradley Baker – he’s a legend in the voice world…

BH: Absolute legend, and so rightfully a legend. One of the greatest things ever with Dee is that I love hearing him do creature voices. You can write on the page the weirdest possible description…and, no joke, he nails it every time.

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JM: Thomas Lennon, who’s so good on The Odd Couple

BH: Oh, Tom’s awesome. He is amazing and he is definitely one of the guys who we give almost no direction to. It’s really just kind of fun. He comes-up with reads that I would never have expected. It’s fun to toss a line to him and see how it comes back. He finds such great, weird rhythms.

JM: And I have to ask you about Jim Cummings, who we all know as Winnie the Pooh.

BH: It’s actually a little bit of a bummer. We had our show in development…Jim’s awesome, by the way. He was fantastic. I wish we had more for him. Originally, as the show was designed, we were going to have interstitial segments that were not necessarily about The Croods family but about the world in general. And Jim was going to be the narrator covering all of that. And it was a really nice idea. As the show went on, it was something that got cut after the first five episodes. It was disrupting the show in other ways. The concept wasn’t working out. However, he [also] did some various creature effects for us, and those made it in. We basically have an insanely talented actor doing some chomping noises.

JM: The DreamWorks Animation film division is currently working on The Croods 2, which is going to come out in 2018. Are you proud of the fact that this studio is devoting so much time and energy into this family of cavemen?

BH: Yeah. I’m glad to see it’s one of the franchises they’re really getting behind. And they’ve been so supportive of our show. The feature team has been awesome. It’s kind of nice that we’re the prequel and they’re the sequel, so we are in our own spaces. We’ll bounce ideas off of each other and make sure we’re not stepping on each other’s toes. I hope this family keeps going. It’s been a long time since The Flintstones, so it’s nice to see a more modern variation of what a caveman family could be. These Croods have become dear to my heart, so it’s nice to see them thriving.

JM: Do you have any secrets, details or little things you can share about The Croods 2?

BH: I wish I did. I know the odds and ends of what we have been asked not to do. And I learned long ago – never, in any way, ever cross a publicity or marketing department. So I dare not speak any of those names or secrets.

Jackson Murphy

Jackson Murphy

Jackson Murphy is a movie critic and entertainment columnist. He is the creator of the website Lights-Camera-Jackson.com, and has made numerous appearances on television and radio.
Jackson Murphy
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