Now airing on the Disney Channel and obtainable on the Disney+ streaming service, Hamster & Gretel delivers a brand new tackle a whole lot of well-worn genres from Disney Animation. It is quietly a stable parody of superhero narratives, with one of many minds behind Phineas and Ferb serving to usher in a brand new technology of weird heroes and villains. It is a down-to-earth cartoon sitcom specializing in a multicultural household coping with some absurd conditions. It is also a present the place a hamster typically punches adults into submission — a really foolish route that was very a lot by design.
Throughout an occasion on the D23 Conference in Anaheim — attended by members of the press, together with CBR — solid and crew from Hamster & Gretel spoke about how the collection got here to be. They dove into how the bicultural points of the present converse to them personally and the significance of highlighting foolish concepts for comedic functions within the present.
Gretel is the present’s main hero, a well-meaning however over-energetic superhero who is usually just a little too desirous to get herself into super-sized conflicts. Whereas that is the primary main voice appearing function for Meli Povenmire, it isn’t her first publicity to voice appearing. “I used to go to work with my dad,” Meli remembered, referencing the present’s creator (and her father) Dan Povenmire. “He had pals who have been making their very own reveals. So I might go in and do temp voices for them. Then I received to voice this character for a pilot… That was a lot enjoyable.” Taking up Gretel has been a pleasure for Povenmire, who famous how her time within the voice-over sales space can definitely fluctuate. “I will both get it like excellent on the primary strive,” she described, “or I will like utterly mess up, [and] it will take 20 minutes. I discover consolation in [Gretel] as a result of she jogs my memory of myself. She’s very hyperactive like me, very annoying like me, and I am proudly owning it.”
Dan Povenmire agrees that Meli made for an ideal selection for his newest Disney undertaking. Reflecting on the winding path he and frequent collaborator Jeff Marsh went down throughout the growth of Phineas and Ferb, Povenmire in contrast the expertise to how he created Hamster & Gretel. “I had drawn this doodle of a hamster,” he recalled, “a superhero hamster. Then over Christmas break of 2019, I did just a little animatic for the chilly open, so I may present the manager and say, ‘Hey, what about this present?’ as a result of they have been asking me for one thing new. Then inside the yr, it received picked up. They beloved that, so I did the entire remainder of the pilot. A lot of the pilot I did throughout the pandemic whereas we have been ending the Phineas and Ferb film, which is how Meli received the function of Gretel. I used to be like, ‘Meli, are you able to are available in?’ I simply wanted just a little child’s voice on this presentation piece, after which it was hilarious. Everyone began falling in love along with her voice as that character, and she or he simply form of survived via all of the iterations.”
Hamster & Gretel’s absurd components lend themselves properly to a foolish episodic tackle the superhero style whereas additionally permitting the creators to set the stage for a larger battle. Whereas Marsh is not part of the present, Povenmire was fast to notice the most important classes he discovered from their previous collaboration. “After we began Phineas & Ferb,” Povenmire defined, “I believe the unique pickup was like 16 episodes — I puzzled if we may inform 32 tales. Then we ended up doing [over 200 episodes], seven hour-long specials, and two films. It is made me perceive we will do an enormous, lengthy story. Concepts aren’t a barrel that is going to empty out. The extra you are writing new concepts and arising with new concepts, the extra it is like flexing a muscle. The extra you flex the muscle, the stronger that muscle will get. The extra you try this, the better it’s to provide you with new tales, new jokes, and stuff like that.”
“We’re at all times simply making an attempt to shock ourselves,” Povenmire continued. “The one factor that I instantly advised the writers on this present… A loft them will pitch one thing, and I will say, ‘Okay, it is a advantageous script. It reads. It is humorous. It is intelligent, however the place’s the silly? The place’s the ridiculous concept that you just did not put in right here?’ The largest factor I believe I discovered from Phineas and Ferb is that the gags that individuals actually latch on to… are the dumb concepts that you just would not pitch in most writers’ rooms as a result of it is simply too ridiculous. These are those I name Monday morning gags. You see the present over the weekend, children are available in on Monday morning, and so they speak about it in school. That is what you need — to feed that a part of children’ brains as a result of they are going to at all times gravitate to that, and that’ll stick of their brains.”
Joanna Hausmann, Story Editor and Co-Producer on Hamster & Gretel, revealed that she believes these components are a significant facet of what elevates the present. “[‘La Cebolla’], I believe, is an instance of what I like probably the most about this present,” she described, “which is the humor of the present. We pitch out concepts, and one of many guidelines… [is] is that concept so dumb that another person hasn’t considered it or another person has stated, ‘That is too dumb to placed on TV’? Then within the room, we attempt to construct it out and make these characters really feel very three-dimensional. So, for instance, ‘La Cebolla’ has a really lengthy backstory. A telenovela star could not cry on cue. She tried to devour too many onions with a view to make her cry. She received hit by a ray by a bunch of aliens, and now she will be able to simply converse to onions. That is an instance of the kind of humor and characters we’re having a whole lot of enjoyable with on the present.”
For Hausmann, becoming a member of the present got here because of assembly Povenmire via her YouTube channel. ” I used to be making a whole lot of content material on YouTube,” she recalled, “particularly Latino content material, so humor that form of merged my two cultures, the American aspect and the Venezuelan aspect of my household. Dan’s spouse is Venezuelan, and so he reached out by way of YouTube and was like, ‘Hey, I like your content material.'” This allowed Hausmann and Povenmire to focus the present with a real contact of Venezuelan tradition, because the casually biracial household on the coronary heart of the collection offers the present a whole lot of its taste.”When he had the chance to create the present, we have been speaking, and [he] was like, ‘Perhaps we will make this a household primarily based on mine. Would you want to assist me write this?’ To deliver into this Disney present components of our tradition in a manner that feels pure and never in a manner that [feels forced]… even inside the home, there are components. I met with the inventive director, who spent a whole lot of time specifying components in the home that felt applicable… We needed to make it simply really feel prefer it was a part of a world.”
Taking part in La Cebolla is Karina La Voz, a cleaning soap opera veteran and Venezuelan pop star. Recruited to the present after befriending Povenmire, La Voz was likewise impressed by Hamster & Gretel’s potential to embody a extra progressive and fashionable household unit — in addition to give her a ridiculous villain that also permits her to belt out some spectacular musical numbers. “I believe it’s extremely cool,” La Voz described, “as a result of there’s a whole lot of Venezuelans already now right here [in America]. There’s at all times immigration issues, migrants on this nation. So we’re the brand new one thing with the brand new households. Now it is normalized.”
Bouncing off Gretel (and one of many present’s central figures) is her brother, Kevin, performed by Love, Victor’s Michael Cimino. A median teenager with desires of a cooler life, Kevin would not get the identical superpowers that strengthen his sister or her pet hamster — leading to him successfully turning into his sister’s Alfred Pennyworth/Ned Leeds all rolled into one. “I believe in the case of voice appearing,” Cimino defined, “it is simply very depending on every voice actor being good at what they do. Then it’s going to normally come collectively simply advantageous. So long as they’re related to the overarching theme of this story… The present could be very grounded. Properly, it isn’t reasonable, nevertheless it’s grounded in how everybody’s efficiency simply feels very pure — true to life. I really feel like typically, inside a cartoon, you’ll be able to sort of get into the ‘Hey, that is only a cartoon.’ It is not. It’s totally grounded and actual, and I really feel like folks of a whole lot of completely different ages can relate to that.”
Carolina Ravassa performs the function of Carolina, Gretel and Kevin’s mom, who continuously finds herself as a much more down-to-earth determine within the present. It was a thrill for the performer, who (like Hausmann) grew up in a bicultural setting and likes to see that sort of illustration in a Disney property. “I like that it is simply so grounded,” she famous, sharing Cimino’s sentiment. “It is exhibiting a household that could be a bicultural household, and that’s actually particular to me as a result of I grew up in a bicultural family talking English and Spanish on the identical time. So I simply assume it is cool. We’re getting a glimpse into a really regular household, and so they know they battle crime on the aspect — a few of them, not all of them… It is outlandish, however the household facet of it’s what I believe is actually particular.”
Coming from the world of YouTube and Vine, Thomas Sanders, who performs the villain Neighslayer within the present, was fast to spotlight how a lot being within the present means to him. “I have been a fan of voiceover what since manner again,” he defined. “I have been listening to podcasts on find out how to get into voice appearing after I was in faculty… as a result of I’ve at all times needed to be a cartoon character. Then Vine got here round, and it felt far more attainable for me at that time. I used to be nonetheless sort of making an attempt to only have enjoyable, make my very own model, use my voice in its personal manner, after which that led to meet-ups with [veteran voice actors] Tara Robust and Jim Cummings. All of that snowballed into assembly Dan as a result of his children knew of me. It was a really wild experience that I hope I can preserve going. I am having a blast.”
Brock Powell, who performs Lyle, aka the villain FistPuncher, was fast to agree. Reflecting on his personal expertise in voice appearing, he famous how “anytime you are working in 11-minute tv, there’s a sure degree of suspension of disbelief as a result of issues should get resolved in about ten minutes…I believe the factor that grounds the present is the sibling dynamic. What’s fascinating is each villain is available in with one thing that’s weirdly relatable, just like the narrative function.” He was additionally fast to say Sara Sherman, who works on the present as a voice director.
“It is all concerning the comedy,” Powell continued. “Comedy wins out. Lots of improvisation and a whole lot of making an attempt issues out… The scripts are hilarious. Everybody within the room is simply so humorous, and regardless that we’re not recording collectively, we’re listening to one another’s takes and bouncing off… I believe protecting it family-friendly is actually necessary, and remembering that each villain is a hero in their very own story. So I believe as soon as you discover that connective tissue of life, I like that, proper? We’re not there to wreak havoc. That is how I need to do it, and I believe it simply makes it extra enjoyable.”
New episodes of Hamster & Gretel air on Saturdays on Disney Channel, and the present is at the moment obtainable on Disney+.