THE MIGHTY ONES Co-Creator And Co-Executive Producer Talk About The Animated Series For Season 3 Release

To celebrate Season 3 of The Mighty Ones arriving on Hulu and Peacock, Toonado had the opportunity to speak to co-creator Sunil Hall and co-executive producer Greg Miller about the animated series.

Interviews Opinion

The Mighty Ones has returned for a third season on Peacock and Hulu. The animated comedy series from DreamWorks Animation Television focuses on four friends—Twig (a twig), Rocksy (a rock), Leaf and Berry (a berry)—collectively referred to as "The Mighty Ones." Together, the creatures constantly find themselves in wacky adventures around their kingdom: a small yard.

For the show's first two seasons, the creatures lived in a yard occupied by the unkempt members of a rock band. Season 3, on the other hand, picks up in a different place for the four protagonists, as a couple with a baby moves in. Wanting to remodel the house, the pair replaces The Mighty Ones' dirt yard with artificial grass, putting the characters in a strange and deceivingly scary environment.

To celebrate the release of the 10-episode season, Toonado had the opportunity to speak to The Mighty Ones co-creator and executive producer Sunil Hall (Gravity Falls, Futurama), and co-executive producer Greg Miller (The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy).

Crafting The Show

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The series features a unique premise with unusual protagonists. As Hall explained, The Mighty Ones' central characters came about as a means to mimic children's play sessions and their penchant to make grand adventures out of inanimate objects:

"I think a lot of the inspiration came from how kids play; when you just throw them out in the backyard and they've got nothing but what's out there to use, yet, they're able to create imaginary worlds with sticks and rocks, and stuff. [Series co-creator Lynne Naylor] and I both grew up like that; we played like that, and my kids do it. [...] I think, also, just the idea that these small, almost powerless, tiny things can still be aspirational, and still want to change the world, and kind of do big things. That was an appealing idea for us. So, those were some of the early concepts that informed that world. And I think, too, just the weirdness of it. When you look at the microscopic world, and look at bugs under a microscope, stuff is insane. They look like crazy monsters, and everything just gets much more interesting when you zoom into that level. So, artistically, it gives you a lot of ground to work with."

Co-executive producer Greg Miller added:

"When I started on the show, [Sunil Hall] and our friend, Lynne, had [developed it], […] and they asked me to join the [team]. But I know the focus originally was, 'Hey, let's watch a lot of nature shows, where you see this macro level of grass blades, and they look like giant towers.' It was such a weird, foreign, alien world. It was great. They're like, 'Okay, now we're creating our own world. It's not the human world; we're not doing stuff like [people driving to work]. […] So, it was awesome to have this weird magical world happening, and then, the cool part of the show, too, is we do cut back to the human-scale world. So, we see cars and people that are living in the [house]. But then, we go back down to where Rocksy and Berry are hanging out, and it's like, 'Wow, it's this magical fantasy world,' but it's still in this [dirty] backyard. So, it was just fun to be able to play around with those two scales."

Creating The World Of The Mighty Ones

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When crafting The Mighty Ones' universe, the series' creative team researched different nature tidbits. However, Hall stated that, being a comedic fantasy-adventure, the creatives focused more on making the series as whimsical as possible, rather than on making it scientifically accurate:

"We always take something from reality. Like, if we're doing an episode about weird bugs, we'll look up on Wikipedia interesting tidbits about those bugs. We did one episode where they go into a beehive, and there are some actual bee facts sprinkled in there, but we're not trying to be educational. We're just trying to be weird. So, usually, that's looking for inspiration, but not really trying to stick too closely to the actual natural history of things."

Still, there was an effort to make the series somewhat resemble reality. Hall revealed that The Mighty Ones' art director Jennifer Baker did some deep-dive research into the real-life inspiration behind the show’s setting:

"[When] we were developing the look of the show, our art director, Jenny Baker, and her design team would go out and lie down in the lawn at DreamWorks and stick their face in the grass and look at what the ground looked like down there. And for the artificial turf, we looked at a lot of photo reference of what these things look like up-close, and then, that inspired some of the artistic decisions we made for the design of that."

Adding An Adult Touch to The Series

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Similar to shows like SpongeBob SquarePants and Teen Titans Go!, The Mighty Ones features several subtle gags aimed at adults. According to Hall, being a streaming-exclusive project allowed him and the creative team to imbue the show with a tone that grown-ups could enjoy alongside their children:

"It was a very conscious decision. The tone of the show is something that Lynne and I pitched [to] DreamWorks. We wanted to make a show that was for kids—I think the age group for it is like 6 to 11, so it's a slightly older kid-age group, but it is primarily for kids. But we also enjoy those shows that an adult in the room will sit down and enjoy as much as the kid who's watching it. And I like shows where there's multi-level humor, where there might be stuff that goes over the kid's head. They're laughing at the silly, physical [jokes], but there's another level of humor in there that adults might get, or an older audience might get. So, we really want to appeal to a wide swathe of the audience."

Miller added that their brand of humor tends to play well with children, making it easier to find a happy medium between adult-skewing and kid-friendly comedy:

"[We're] making it for kids, but we're also all adults making it. Since we're writing it and having fun in the room, we're writing jokes for ourselves. But that also plays into [the fact that] we're all kind of big, dorky kids in our own way. So, stuff that's making us laugh tends to be awesome jokes for kids. We also kind of check ourselves, where we're like, 'Oh, we might go down a path where kids are never gonna get that [joke].'"

Changing The Show's Setting

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Season 3 of The Mighty Ones features a drastic status quo shift for its protagonists. As mentioned, the rock-playing tenants of the house they inhabit are kicked out, and the property is given to a couple with a newborn baby. It's a big change not often seen in kids' TV series, and Hall stated their intention with such a shift was to expand the world of the show:

"When we were pitching Hulu on Season 3, we wanted to find a way to expand the world, and bring another new, interesting element to it without changing it too much. Initially, we had thought about, 'Do the Mighty Ones get out of the yard?' But we didn't like that because the yard is their universe; we didn't want to take them out of that universe. Then, we thought, 'Well, [let's] change the universe around them; we change the yard around them.' And so, we came up with the idea that the old roommates would be kicked out, the yard would be renovated, and they'd put in artificial turf and clean everything up. It'd be like you woke up in the future and everything's different, and how would they interpret that? What would they get out of that? So, that was really fertile stuff to make episodes out of."

The house's past tenants eventually find their way back into The Mighty Ones' space, though. Hall revealed their return came about because the show's creative team grew attached to the characters and because having them back allowed for more story opportunities:

"[What] we did too is, we kept the other characters around. They're next door. We'll see them later, because we love those characters too, and we didn't want to throw them out. So, we just sort of expanded our universe. [It] gave us a lot more opportunities to go back and forth between the two worlds."

Miller elaborated, revealing that, being unsure if The Mighty Ones would be renewed for a third season, the show's creative team decided to unofficially kill off its main characters. This in order to give the story a proper ending should the series not return. The Mighty Ones was renewed, though, thus inspiring the revamped location for the tiny characters:

"At the end of Season 2, […] we weren't sure if we were gonna get a pickup for Season 3, so we had kinda left it where, at the end of the last episode, The Mighty Ones get eaten by a snake, and then the snake gets carried away by a hawk. And so, we were like, 'Okay, if we don't get a pickup, then that's the end; The Mighty Ones are done. They've been eaten by a snake and they're dead.' But, since we did get a pickup to get more episodes, we were like, 'Okay, cool! So, now, the bird comes and drops the snake into this revamped yard, so they pop out of the snake. And that's what was kind of cool, where we were like, 'Okay, it's the same yard, but it's different, so it kind of freaks them out.' [...] So, it was fun to do that kind of story. It was also cool because that was the first time we had done a multi-episode arc."

The Mighty Ones Season 3 is now streaming on Hulu and on Peacock.

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