“Milo Murphy’s Law”: Disney XD Hopes for Years of Bad Luck – Animation Scoop

“Milo Murphy’s Law”: Disney XD Hopes for Years of Bad Luck

If a calamity can possibly happen, it happens to Milo Murphy, the protagonist of the new animated Disney XD series from Jeff “Swampy” Marsh and Dan Povenmire, who have a tough act to follow after setting the bar so high with Phineas and Ferb.

Milo Murphy’s Law, which premiered this week, has a similar look, but a different story structure and a strangely sunnier outlook. Milo, upon whom every possible mishap occurs, takes them all in stride. If anything, it mostly delights and exhilarates him.

The character was inspired by a mutual friend of the creative duo, but took on a further dimension into the wide-eyed and the twisted thanks to the inspired casting of Weird Al Yankovic as Milo, in his first animated lead role.

“Usually I’m brought in to do a cameo voice,” Al told us. “I’ve done quite a bit of that. Sometimes it’s a joke with my fans—‘Als’ trying to do every animated show ever made!’ I love animation and voice over work. So the opportunity for a “steady job” was well received.”

While the Milo series will have Phineas’ sly sense of humor, rapid-fire gag rhyhm and delightfully wry references (Peter Coyote, anyone?), the season will follow a progressive, ever-growing trajectory. There will also be some stories that will be self-contained, as they all were on Phineas and Ferb.

It’s an ambitious move for the creative team, as the arc stories have to work in relation to one and another, in the Breaking Bad and Mad Men mold. “We were aware of where we were going through all of the episodes,” Swampy explains. “Sometimes we would put in a little ‘building block” and other times we’d add in a huge step forward to the overall story.”

MILO MURPHY'S LAW - Key Art. (Disney XD)

The episodes are meticulously conceived so that there is a plausible logic to the events that lead to the big finish. As the writers of I Love Lucy did so skillfully, the Milo team starts at the end, with the big comedy climax, and work their way back to set it up through the whole story.

“Each episode begins like a Seinfeld episode, very mundane,” said Swampy.

“It begins like Seinfeld, but it ends with a volcano,” adds Dan.

Dan and Swampy revealed the two roles they play in the series: they’re voicing two pistachio protectors from the future.

“Swampy and I play Balthazar Cavendish and I play Vinnie Dakota and we are time traveling pistachio protector,” says Dan. “We don’t really show up until several episodes in. I’m the good-looking one.”

“I’m the well-dressed one,” interjects Swampy. “We’re both rather incompetent characters. We both went back go back to the past to dress like the’ 70s—but Balthazar decided to dress from the 1870s.”

From the pilot episode, Milo makes it clear that his mantra is “Why be normal?” Like Auntie Mame, he believes life is a banquet of awesome experiences and most of the other kids who miss out. It’s a message aimed squarely at kids at an age in which the choice between being “cool” and “uncool” each has consequences. Mishaps are part of life, but they don’t have to get you down. It’s the one reacts to them that counts.

“We think very specifically about that,” said Dan. “It’s what we want the take home to be. Phineas was a celebration of creativity, which we loved. This is a celebration of rolling with it, of letting things happen and still being positive. Nobody has a life where nothing goes wrong. It’s a matter of getting past it.”

“That’s one of the reasons the character appealed to me so much,” adds Al. “They could have gone a whole different way with a sad sack character. I see a lot of myself in Milo, in that I’m a very ‘up,’ positive person—but I can’t say that I was as positive as Milo when I was thirteen years old. What I love about Milo–and what is such a great message about the character–is that he acknowledges the disasters happening around him and he deals with it. He’s got his knapsack that he carries everywhere so he’s prepared for the unexpected.

“He’s able to deal with the craziness in his life. Everybody can learn from that.”

Greg Ehrbar

Greg Ehrbar

Greg Ehrbar is a freelance writer/producer for television, advertising, books, theme parks and stage. Greg has worked on content for such studios as Disney, Warner and Universal, with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. His numerous books include Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney (with Tim Hollis). Visit gregehrbar.com for more.
Greg Ehrbar
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