“I Didn’t Do It.”
It’s a safe bet that these are words that every teenager has uttered at some point in his or her life. The next challenge is to explain what exactly happened that lead to the declaration of that statement.
This is the premise of a new show premiering Friday night on the Disney Channel.
"I Didn't Do It" is a comedy that tells of the hilarious twists and turns in the lives of five teenagers – ultra-competitive fraternal twins and their three best friends. Each episode begins at the end of a predicament, just after an adventure has gone absurdly haywire, twins Lindy and Logan and their friends Jasmine, Garrett and Delia somehow try to explain -- with flashback scenes -- exactly what happened.
In the premiere episode, Lindy and Logan face their parents who have just returned from a night out, determined to somehow understand just how their home became covered in foam, why pizza is falling from the ceiling, how a goat got into their living room and what happened to Mrs. Klasby, the 91-year-old babysitter.
The show was created by Tod Himmel ("90210," "The Starter Wife") and Josh Silverstein ("So Random!"), and is executive-produced by Himmel and Judd Pillot ("According to Jim," "Dog With A Blog").
Himmel was excited about the show from day one, revealing, “I envisioned doing a show about teenagers with some parental involvement but really focused on the teens. Teenagers live in their own world. They have their own dynamics and their own relationship hierarchy and I wanted to tell stories within the world.”
The pilot is a dizzying display of storytelling with a multitude of moving pieces, with bits that are derivative of the comedic films “Weekend at Bernie’s” and “The Hangover.” How are these themes appropriate for the Disney audience? When handled correctly, these storytelling elements translate into an engaging plot with themes that are more than suitable for this age-group.
These factors played a role when Himmel pitched the pilot. “When we first discussed the pilot with Disney, I told them this story about how when I was in Junior High I went over to a friend’s house early in the morning and he had a hired babysitter because his parents were out of town. The babysitter was asleep so we went out the entire day. When we got back, she was still asleep. So in crafting the pilot I was like, ‘maybe she could be dead in the show.’ I truly thought Disney would never go for it. Surprisingly, they were like ‘okay’ and they let us keep a fantasized version of it. I have to give kudos to them for embracing the conceit even though it was outside of their comfort zone.”
Pillot was happy that the powers that be at Disney embraced the concept and the building blocks that Himmel had already begun to establish saying, “When I came onboard I had read the pilot and I was like, ‘wow.’ I jumped at this because this is really pushing Disney. I kind of knew then that they wouldn’t allow us to do everything that was in the original pilot script, but even knowing that, we’re much further down the football field of anything they’ve ever done before on Disney. I know they might back up every once in a while when we ask for something, but even backing up, it’s still ahead of anything they’ve done. I’m really pleased with that. I think this show will help teenagers see that they haven’t outgrown Disney.”
He goes on to explain that it’s not just the storytelling that separates “I Didn’t Do It” from other Disney fare. “We cut it with adult rhythms and non-sitcom rhythms. It’s not laid out on a platter – line, laugh, line, laugh. We throw in all kinds of stunts and reactions and we involve all of the kids. It’s an ensemble show and the pace of the show is what will appeal to a slightly older audience. Teens will want to keep up with the speed of the show and they'll love the puzzle parts. We’ve worked really hard to deliver the same pace as the pilot in every subsequent episode. It’s definitely a challenge, but we’re up for it, for sure.”
While daring to be different, Pillot insists that it’s the commonality of the themes in each episode that makes the show work, saying, “The dynamics are the same from generation to generation. You’re still doing stories about jealousy, about anxiety, peer pressure, loyalty, friendship, insecurity, and the like. As long as the themes ring true, the stories will be compelling and then you add the humor to that and that’s all you need to make a smart, totally believable, appealing show.”
Himmel agrees that the work that’s gone into “I Didn’t Do It” is paying off, explaining, “I think we’ve achieved everything we set out to do; create a show that’s funny, edgy and will appeal to teenagers and really to anyone who’s ever been a teenager."
“I Didn’t Do It” premieres Friday night on the Disney Channel at 9:40et/pt.