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"Motorcity" brings some family-friendly anarchy (not to mention great racing sequences) to Disney XD

"Motorcity" brings some family-friendly anarchy (not to mention great racing sequences) to Disney XD

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"You're serious? You really want to do this?"

That's what Chris Prynoski  remembers saying to Mouse House executives when they had their very first conversations with Chris about he and his Robin Red Breast, Inc. team possibly  producing a brand-new animated series for Disney XD.


Copyright Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. A Time Warner Company. All rights reserved

Why the trepidation on Prynoski's part? Because Chris and his crew are probably best known for that Adult Swim favorite, "Metalocalypse." You know? That darkly comic show (which -- FYI -- just began its fourth season on Cartoon Network last night) about Dethklok, the hugely-popular death metal group whose members aren't exactly long on smarts and/or social skills.

Given that virtually every episode of "Metalocalypse" ends in an black-humored cataclysm of violence, rock music & explosions, it was initially hard for Chris to see how that sensibility was ever going to fit in over at Disney XD.

"But over the past few years, Disney's gotten far more serious about embracing & encouraging creator-driven shows. I mean, look at Dan Povenmire and Jeff 'Swampy' Marsh have done with 'Phineas & Ferb.' Disney let Dan & Jeff make just the sort of show that they wanted to do for the Channel. And 'Phineas' wound up being a huge hit for the Company," Prynoski explained.


Dan Povenmire (L) and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh pose with the creators that they created
during a recent visit to Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So given that Disney XD was now seriously chasing after the 13 year-old boy audience ... Well, that's why they then turned to Chris & his team at Robin Red Breast, Inc. They were looking for a show that had all of "Metalocalypse" 's virtues (i.e. memorable characters, great design, witty / tightly-written scripts, beautifully staged action sequences) without quite so much bloodletting & beheading. Family-friendly anarchy, if you will.

So Prynoski and his creative partners put their heads together and then came up with "Motorcity," that turbo-charged animated racing series which debuts on Disney XD tonight at 9 p.m. ET / PT.

Mind you, based on the first two episodes of this show, it's pretty clear that there's a lot of "Metalocalypse" 's DNA in "Motorcity." This animated series is set in a futuristic version of Detroit right after Motown has been bought outright by evil billionaire Abraham Kane. Who then turns this rusted-out old hulk into a bright shiny city-of-the-future called Detroit Deluxe.


A massive holographic version of Abraham Kane looms over Detroit Deluxe.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

The only problem with Kane's plan is that Detroit Deluxe is literally built right on top of the old city of Detroit. And the folks who still live down there in the depths of what's now known as Motorcity don't take too kindly to Abraham's plan to wipe out their homes & businesses and then replace them all with sleek, squeaky-clean, ultra-modern homes and apartments. Where the residents can live in relative peace & comfort except for the fact that -- thanks to Abraham Kane's iron-handed rule -- they no longer have any personal freedoms.

So who's going to stand up to this evil billionaire and his plans? An unlikely group of rebels called the Burners who are led by 17-year-old Milton Chilton.

Now where this gets interesting is -- not too long ago -- Chilton used to be one of Kane's most trusted lieutenants. Until, that is, Mike learned of Abraham's nefarious plan to flatten what was left of Old Detroit by using an army of hi-tech SafeTBots.


(L to R) Mike Chilton, Texas, Dutch, Julie and Chuck from Disney XD's new "Motorcity"
animated series. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

That's when Chilton retreated to the subterranean world of Motorcity and formed a resistance group, the Burners.  One where Mike and his four friends -- Chuck, Julie, Texas and Dutch --  use souped-up hot rods to regularly do battle with Abraham Kane and his robotic army.

That standing-up-to-authority storyline which runs through most "Motorcity" episodes will be very familiar to most "Metalocalypse" fans. Asis  this show's driving music score.

"And as for this show's vocal cast ... Well, I've always wanted to work with Andrea Romano, who's voice cast & directed many great Warner Bros. Television Animation projects like 'Batman: The Animated Series,' " Prynoski  said. "Andrea had never worked for Disney before. But I heard that Ms. Romano was the very best at what she does. So I fought for Andrea and got her. And she in turn assembled this amazing vocal cast for 'Motorcity.' We've got Mark Hamill as the voice of Abraham Kane, our villain, and Reid Scott of 'My Boys' as Mike Chilton. It's a great, great vocal cast."


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And then when you factor in the animation veterans that Chris lured over to Robin Red Breast, Inc. to help make "Motorcity" a reality -- people like Craig Lewis (formerly of "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends") as story editor and George Krstic ("Star Wars: The Clone Wars") & John O'Bryan ("Avatar: The Last Airbender") as writers ... Well, it's no wonder that this new animated series for Disney XD is already firing on all four cylinders.

And the best part is -- if you're really paying attention -- you'll notice that some "Metalocalypse" -like social satire is already bleeding through into "Motorcity."

How so? Well, you know how Abraham Kane is determined to build a city-of-the-future which is all sleek & modern, filled with people who are neat, well-dressed and well-behaved? Doesn't that sound an awful lot like what Walt Disney was trying to do with Epcot-the-city back in the 1960s?


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

When I asked Prynoski about this aspect of "Motorcity," all Chris could do in response was laugh and then say "I don't think I'm allowed to comment on that. But I will say that you're a very perceptive fellow."

NOTE TO ALL YOU DISNEY DIEHARDS OUT THERE: As far as satirical swipes at Kindly Old Uncle Walt go, this one is relatively mild. If you want to see some really biting Disney-related humor, be sure and check out  "The Incredible Mr. Brisby." That episode of Adult Swim's "The Venture Bros." TV series features lots of razor-sharp pokes at Disney, including the Brisby-dome, a giant bee-hive shaped structure which looks an awful lot like that Epcot icon, Spaceship Earth.

So if you're in the mood for some family-friendly anarchy (not to mention some brilliantly staged action & racing sequences), then be sure to tune in tonight for the premiere of "Motorcity." Which debuts on Disney XD at 9 p.m. ET / PT.

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  • Chris Prynoski is a crazy genius. The fact that Disney is letting him run wild on one of their channels is incredibly exciting.

  • I have to say this is a very stylized show and I love it. I've already seen the first episode on itunes and while the story isn't ground breaking, the animation and style is simply stunning. WIth this and the upcoming Wander over Yonder by Craig McCracken, it looks like Disney has a strong list of up coming animated shows.

    Though I'm surprised this is the first time Andrea Romano has done voice direction for Disney. I thought she was voice director for Kim Possible.

  • Andrea Romano worked on DuckTales for Disney.

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