Writer/Producer Mike Rowe Talks You Tube’s “Paranormal Action Squad” – Animation Scoop

Writer/Producer Mike Rowe Talks You Tube’s “Paranormal Action Squad”

The Paranormal Action Squad is an 8-episode, animated comedy series that follows two paranormal enthusiasts, PAUL (voiced by SeaNanners) and BOB (voiced by TheMrSark) who, along with their enthusiastic neighbor VANOSS (voiced by VanossGaming), have made it their mission in life to uncover the mysteries of the ghostly universe.

The Paranormal Action Squad is YouTube’s first animated series. It stars the voices of some of the platforms most popular gaming/animated creators (SeaNanners, TheMrSark and VanossGaming have a combined social reach of 34 million fans) and is written and produced by Mike Rowe, the Emmy Award-winning writer of “Futurama” and “Family Guy”. What follows is my interview with Mr. Rowe.

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Jackson Murphy: Your comedy career began doing stand up in New York City, and that led to working on “Futurama”, “The PJs” and “Family Guy”. What were some of the biggest takeaways from being a part of those animated shows?

Mike Rowe: Well, especially with “Futurama”, I really learned that fans really like the idea of getting to know the cartoon characters as people and relatable – and creating a world that kind of invites people to come into. The “Futurama” fans really like the whole world and the environment, and it was kind of an escape. So it’s not really just about what’s funny – and let’s just do some jokes and let’s play. I really like that what I learned from there is: Get to know these cartoon characters as people. Find some real relationships. Find things they care about and fans get really drawn to that. And I really tried to apply that to “Paranormal Action Squad”.

JM: Just from the first episode, you seem to be spoofing some classic shows and movies. What were some of your biggest inspirations for the overall concept?

Mike Rowe

Mike Rowe

MR: Hank Stapleton came to me with the basic idea and we kind of built it from there. Basically, it is a very low-tech “Ghostbusters”. And that, sort of, wasn’t the intention, but I feel like that’s the best way to describe it. It’s funny – there’s no real other movie inspirations for this. I really was more about the characters and just making them likeable and relatable. That was at the forefront.

JM: Unlike with “Scooby-Doo” where all the ghosts and zombies were real people in costumes, Paul and Eddie on “The Paranormal Action Squad” are dealing with real creatures. It must be cool to come-up with all the wacky characters they get to interact with.

MR: Yeah, it’s fun, and I try to devise this formula for this show. It’s only 11 minutes, and it’s hard. It’s, in a way, a lot harder than writing a half-hour. I tried to do storytelling in 11 minutes. The formula is always basic. In the beginning – just get to know the guys for a minute. And then there’s an emergency and they have to put out the fire, basically, but they go in and just make it worse…and then they have to get out of it. And for the first eight [episodes], I really tried to make each episode different – a different kind of monster. So it could be a zombie; one could be a vampire; the next one could just be ghosts. And then I do a sci-fi one towards the end which was one of my favorites because I got to tap into my “Futurama” roots.

It’s the kind of show that could go anywhere but have its own context. But it could be a little sci-fi in one episode. It could be emotional in another episode. I’m trying to humanize the old computer [character]. There’s an episode where her job is in jeopardy because of the new computer that comes into the fold there, and she gets emotional. Her job is threatened; her relationship with the guys is threatened. So, again, it comes down to getting to personally know everyone on the show. In a way, that computer and her personality, that was my version of doing Bender.

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JM: “Family Guy” and “Futurama” certainly push the envelope when it comes to content on TV. At what point did you realize in creating the show that this had to be on a platform like YouTube RED?

MR: YouTube gave me the best of all worlds, where I could make (the show) as dirty as I wanted it to be, but I also tried to not make it very dirty at all, because they also allowed me to design it so, if it does take-off, somewhere down the line it could go to other platforms. These shows could end up on Netflix. We took these guys from YouTube, who are hilarious – and that’s part of what drew me to this – but we also designed it so, if you don’t know these characters online and don’t know about their gaming channels that’s cool because (the show) isn’t specifically about them and who they are on that channel. We tried to design it as these guys are just everyday guys, but yet, fans of these guys will like it and be drawn to it, too. Again, the best of both worlds.

JM: And those guys are SeaNanners, TheMrSark and Vanoss, and they are BIG online. I’m sure you had a lot of fun with them voicing their characters.

MR: I had a blast, because they were so funny and so quick off the top of their heads. During the records I would just start throwing out jokes and they would take them and instantly know how to do them and make them really funny. Here’s a stupid joke – do this one. This one’s even stupider, do this. And that’s one of the advantages of doing animation – you can do an extra hour just working lines. It’s almost like a form of writing, another step of writing, getting in the booth and getting those guys to play like that.

JM: Every animated series needs to have a Holiday episode. Yours is coming-up in a few weeks: “The Ghost of Christmas Present”.

MR: It starts with Paul looking for the perfect Christmas Tree. Paul’s more of a happy spirit so you can see why Christmas would be more important to him. While they’re looking for the tree they get attacked by a crazy snowman. What they don’t notice is that the snowman melts near the perfect tree and the tree becomes demonic, and now is in their house for Christmas. And things get uglier – and it ends-up becoming one of our more dirty episodes towards the end.

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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