Disney’s latest series features a real space cowboy. Well, not a real cowboy, this one is animated, and in more ways than one.
“Wander Over Yonder” follows the adventures of Wander, an eternally-optimistic intergalactic traveler and constant do-gooder, and his quick-tempered but loyal best friend, Sylvia. The friendliest face in outer space, Wander journeys across the galaxies to spread good cheer and to help anyone he can -- much to Sylvia’s chagrin. Their fun-loving escapades often lead them to clash with the evil villain Lord Hater and his army of Watchdogs, who travel from planet to planet trying to make hate the order of the day.
“Wander" is the creation of two-time Emmy Award-winning animator Craig McCracken ("Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends," "The Powerpuff Girls") and features Jack Brayer from “30 Rock” as Wander and voice-over veteran April Winchell as Sylvia.
“This is sweet, silly and surreal,” explains McCracken. “It’s made from a spirit of fun and it’s there just to be entertaining. It’s a cartoon and it shouldn’t be taking too seriously. “
So while Wander and Sylvia ‘battle’ Lord Hater, the clashes are less about good versus and more about love versus hate, according to McCracken. “We wanted to do a ‘Villain’ that viewers can relate to, that has flaws. We actually want people to like Hater. Wander’s big goal isn’t to defeat Hater, but to prove that Hater is good inside. When you get to know Hater you realize that he’s not really evil, he’s just kind of insecure. “
Winchell relishes her role as the pragmatic Sylvia saying, “She’s a blue horse with a pink mane and she can do mixed martial arts. What’s not to love? She’s strong and funny and her goal is to protect Wander.”
McCracken adds, “I wanted contrast. If Wander was on his own he would get in trouble. He needs someone more realistic at his side, someone who is the voice of reason.“
According to both McCracken and Winchell, Wander needs a bit of overseeing because,” He’s optimistic and positive. He’s always just seeing the good in people and because of that he can put himself in dangerous situations.”
But the ‘dangerous’ situations are minor in nature and the real fun is in the adventures that Wander and Sylvia embark on in every episode.
“They’re on a different planet all the time,” an excited Winchell explains. “They’re interacting with different people and having these amazing experiences.”
All of these adventures are done with a level of humor that is ‘not at someone’s expense,” clarifies Winchell, with McCracken adding, “We like doing behavioral comedy; like how a character responds to a situation. It’s not just about funny dialogue and a series of jokes. And, we get comedy from where Wander and Sylvia clash and where they mesh.”
Winchell adds that “Every episode surprises me because you learn something new about Wander and Sylvia; like what they eat, what they drink, where they came from, what they like. A little bit of history is revealed in every story.”
“Wander Over Yonder” has an initial first season order of 39 episodes with McCracken obviously hoping for more. “This show is different and when things are different, there isn’t that instant love, it takes some time for people to get it. I really hope people will give it the time that I think it deserves. I really think they'll just come to love it."
Looking like a hybrid of old school 60s cartoons with a 70s psychedelic texture thrown in, marrying hand drawn elements with computer graphics, “Wander Over Yonder” is what might be called ‘progressive retro.’
McCracken emphasizes that although this is a cartoon, it all starts with the story and making that story visual is the key element to the show. “If you turn the sound off and the picture tells the story, then you’re doing it right. We've worked hard to get it right on 'Wander' and it's definitely apparent in all aspects of the show. I think people will just really get a real kick out of all of it.”
“Wander Over Yonder” premieres on the Disney Channel Friday, September 13th at 9pm e/p.