Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"GOOFY TROOPERS" PART 2 by Mike Peraza

Ever notice the alarm clock sounds louder on Monday?

My spiel went as follows, "Goofy is a recognized star of Disney animation, so why re-invent the wheel? His son is an average kid dealing with many of the usual issues they face: peer pressure, young love, grades, school bullies, and so on. On top of all that, he has the zaniest, wackiest GOOFIEST dad to live down. No matter how insane the situations get though, they will always love each other. They're a family." Gary asked how I would pitch it and I replied, "It's ONE day in  the life of Goofy and son. From getting up in the morning to fixing breakfast, we see their difference side by side as his son tries to distance himself. No matter what though he knows deep inside that his father will always be there for him, whether he likes it or not."

MAKE WAY! GOOFY COMING THROUGH, YAHOEE!!
Gary sat back and beamed, "Love it!" then told me to get started. At this point I was a mixture of joy and worry. My flapping gums might have just gotten me into trouble again. Was I going to be able to pull off this concept? If not it would definitely be my fault for opening up a can of worms and my mouth at the same time. The great news that buoyed me was the attachment of a great Producer to the project, Robert Taylor. I wasn't really familiar with Robert's accomplishments at that point but I was soon to be up to speed. I know I sound like I gush when describing some of these people I was lucky to work with but Robert taylor was amazing even among that stellar crowd.

They call me, " Mr. Taylor!"
I met with Robert and went over the same speech I had just been through with Gary and I could tell he was also crazy about it. I admit looking back at that concept years later, that it was hardly revolutionary but it was definitely better than what we had. Robert wasn't just one of those producers who doesn't know the lead end from the eraser but he could really draw, I mean REALLY DRAW  and was fun to bounce ideas off of. I came up with the next door neighbors, Peg Leg... I mean Pete. Yes, even back in "Mickey's Christmas Carol" I was told never to refer to him as "Peg-Leg Pete" but simply Pete. Pete was a natural who played as an antagonist much like he had in many of the Disney shorts where he had been paired up with either Mickey, Donald or Goofy. Robert designed Pete's gorgeous wife and daughter and I designed Goofy's son Max along with Pete's son. We both fired off a swirl of sketches and ideas. We were like a couple of kids in the sandbox building something  fun together.

Breakfast burnt to order by GOOFY!
When Gary came by to check up on our "sandcastle" of doodles, he gave us the thumbs up. It was obvious we had clicked into a good vibe concerning Goofy and how his dynamics would work in this family sitcom. Everything was now going smooth, until I was reminded that the pitch was next Monday and it was now already Tuesday. Why can't anything ever be easy? Right about this time is when most concept artists wish they had either been involved earlier or at the very least had all that time back to do justice to their visuals.

Father & Son fishing trip
Well anyway the pitch was just under a week which really wasn't bad. I cleaned up my sketches and showed Goofy and son going through an "average day" together from the first "klang!klang!klang! "of the alarm clock through a harrowing fishing trip and heartfelt consolation from dad to son after losing a baseball game 1;000.000 to 0, keeping up with the neighbors and lots of fun stuff to connect the dots.

Robert OK'd the setups I presented to him and so I went to final color. I don't like doing the same thing over and over pitch wise and I was inspired by the beautiful "Baby Weems" story sketches from the 1941 Walt Disney film, "The Reluctant Dragon," starring Robert Benchley. They had a loose bits of spot color from pastels not quite covering the a rough line in a sepia hue. They gave a wonderful look and I wanted to try something in that vein. The sketches I'm including here ar only my roughs before I re-rendered them in color for the pitch. I don't have any copies of my final color, or at least I haven't come across them yet but will post them if I do.

I  based this on my neighbor's kids' skate ramp
I finished the color setups and brought them in to Robert who inflated my enormous ego further by telling me they were incredible.  Did I mention Robert is a man of impecible judgement and taste? Well obviously he is! We took the pitch and in our usual flamboyant and entertaining styles presented it to the suits. I have to admit I do a pretty darn good Goofy voice which certainly helped. Before we knew what had happened, we had yet another new series on the Disney horizon.

Once again my only contribution was to do the concept/pitch as Robert Taylor and an amazing crew did the actual broadcast shows. "Goof Troop" premiered as a TV movie which was later chopped up into a pilot serial. I have to credit Robert's perseverance and talent along with the staff of all-star artists that became attached to it for making this a succes. Besides evolving into a very popular series, "Goof Troop" would spawn a very successful movie, "A Goofy Movie" in 1995 and another direct-to-video in 2000 while producing the usual line of collectible merchandise to accompany the new franchise. In the end I was satisfied that Goofy had kept his klutzy and likable demeanor intact and that we had not screwed up a classic Disney icon but had introduced him to a new generation of fans, a-yuk...a-yuk... gwarsh!

11 comments:

  1. I wrote you on Facebook too Mike. This is a fabulous series! I had no idea you did so much for the TV unit. I always knew of you as a features person. This is really impressive Mike, thanks so much for sharing! Sorry I thought the Gooftroop movie came first, hah hah hah.

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  2. "Goof troop" was a good show! Much better than some of more recent shows.

    Майк, спасибо за слова на русском! Мне приятно :)

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  3. Hello Russian Insider.

    Robert Taylor and his crew did a first rate job producing that show. I was impressed at the quality of character animation their were able to include in many of the episodes. The background design was wonderful. I'm just happy to have had a part in its creation.

    -Mike

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  4. Another great article. Every one is like walking down memory lane :)

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  5. Always a great way to start the day Daniel, by reading one of your comments, lol. Thanks.

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  6. New reader of the blog, but I have to say that Goof Troop is probably my favorite of all the late 80s/early 90s Disney Afternoon series (yes, I place it above Ducktales). Great to read about its development, and I'm glad you managed to steer the concept towards family life rather than the toontown idea. This show is actually a very funny sitcom... far funnier than many live-action sitcoms from the same period:)

    One thing I've been wondering about, by the way... I recently heard that Disney originally produced a pilot episode of Goof Troop named 'Party Animal', which was only aired once in April of 1992 and has never been syndicated with the rest of the series. Would you possibly know where to find/watch this episode? I would love to see the initial start of the series...

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  7. Welcome aboard Mesterius. I'm glad to hear you are a big fan of Goof Troop and that you're enjoying this blog. I barely touched on the many "faces" of Goof Troop that were created during development. It was even crazier than I've let on, lol.

    "Party Animal" was the original pilot and as you said only aired once. PJ is scared about his bad report card and so goes nuts living the day like it may be his last because he's afraid his dad (Pete) will go ballistic when he gets home. Of course he enlists the help of Max to enliven the antics.

    Many times pilots are not exactly what we see in the final series but still has all the underlying parts. I don't know why they don't just include it as a bonus on DVD. I know some of the Disney management teams read this blog so maybe your interest will help spur just that.

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  8. Mike, your work is always exceptional and my experience in the past working with Bob Taylor would make me feel that this Disney project would be as successful as it turned out to be. It was a very sad day when I heard Bob passed. I was trying to get him to move to Charlotte, but his health, family and friends didn't really allow for that.

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    1. Thank you Bob for writing and sharing your comments. You and (the other Bob) Taylor were a joy to work with. I was crushed when he passed too. I was trying to get him to join me on a Disney Afternoon panel but he was too ill. I made very sure to mention him frequently that night and to make sure he got the credit he deserved for his outstanding contributions.

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  9. I know this is an old post but Goof Troop was a huge part of my life for awhile. I still love it and have so many fond memories of watching it. Same with the movies. I miss it so much. I want to say thank you so much for all the joy you brought into my life thanks to this show. It changed my life in a profound way and I will forever be grateful.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed Goof Troop Zidders and I appreciate your writing me to let me know. It means a lot, thanks.

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