I had an opportunity to see an advanced screening of the season premiere of Milo Murphy’s Law and interview Creators and Executive Producers Dan Povenmire & Jeff “Swampy” Marsh. A special thank you goes out to Walt Disney Studios for providing press materials as well as sponsoring my trip and accommodations to the Be Our Guest Event. Opinions expressed are that of my own.
As a Mom with 3 kids there is a high probably that something will go wrong whenever, well frankly whenever we do anything. Whether a dropped lollipop, a scrapped knee, a lost toy, or one of them getting sick, there is usually some type of temporary drama. However I have found that if you don’t take yourself too seriously, you tend to not get as upset about the little things.
Because of this, I can absolutely appreciate the humor and scenarios in Disney XD’s Milo Murphy’s Law. This animated comedy series follows 13-year-old Milo Murphy, the fictional great-great-great-great grandson of the Murphy’s Law namesake. Milo is the personification of Murphy’s Law, where anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Milo and his friends Melissa Chase and Zack Underwood, manage to get themselves into interesting and slightly unlucky scenarios. However with a little problem solving and help from Milo’s loyal pet D-O-G, they manage to have fun in the process as well as see another day.
While in Los Angeles, I saw an advanced screening of the season 2 premiere episodes of “Family Vacation” and “Murphy’s Lard” alongside Creators and Executive Producers Dan Povenmire & Jeff “Swampy” Marsh. (You also know them as the creative minds behind Phineas and Ferb.) After viewing these funny segments, we got to find out how they found their lead voice, what they hope fans take away from the show, and where their inspiration came from for the series. Read on for the details below:
What is it like working with Weird Al Yankovic and how much influence does he have on Milo?
Dan Povenmire accounted, “…We auditioned hundreds of people for Milo. We auditioned kids, seasoned voice actors, people whose work we love. But when they try to do that super-positivity thing, it’d always come off sort of Pollyanna and feel false. We were just like, we just need to find somebody who just actually has that voice, because the character is sort of modeled after a friend of ours who just sounds that way when he talks. He just always sounds really positive”
He continued, “We needed to find somebody who has that positivity just naturally. Weird Al came in and did a voice on Gravity Falls and Alex, who runs Gravity Falls, posted it, and I was like — oh. Weird Al. I’ve met him. I’ve seen him interviewed. He’s like, this super, super positive guy …I had to look up an interview with him to remind myself what his voice sounded like. We had him come in, and it just immediately worked. ”
Jeff “Swampy” Marsh then added, “… he sent me the audition and I got up in the morning and it was on an e-mail. So I’m literally sitting there in bed with my wife, and I play Weird Al’s voice. She goes, ‘Who’s that?’ I went, ‘It’s Weird Al. It’s really good.'”
Dan then conveyed, “It was a great find, and working with him is great. It’s the fact that we get to write songs and have Weird Al sing them, it just makes my high school self just, go ‘Weeee’! The funny thing is, during the course of Phineas there were several songs from the first season that were popular, and then we would write our own Weird Al version of that song… That was always fun. We always called it our Weird Al version…I took the music from a song we wrote on Phineas, and just rewrote the lyrics and made our own Weird Al version of a song for Milo…”
What do you want fans to get from watching the show?
Dan explained, “A lot of times you’re looking to see what starts getting quoted, you know. It’s like, there’s always the Monday morning gag, that’s what we’re always looking for. The gag that kids will come to school and talk about…”
Jeff then shared, “It’s nice to know that things that you wanted — were hoping that would connect, do connect, and also I think I look for it to find the surprising things I didn’t expect. That’s the kind of the joy. There’s this whole other thing that happened that I really didn’t anticipate. “
Dan also added, “You guys laughed at something that we weren’t expecting you to laugh at… I was like, “Oh, I guess that is funny…”
You guys voice Dakota and Cavendish was that planned?
Dan revealed, ” Dakota and Cavendish, that whole concept of that came out of the writers room. That wasn’t part of our original concepts. I think the writers need somebody to cut away to because they were used to doing Phineas and Ferb, and then cutting away to Perry and Doofenshmirtz. They pitched this idea of these time travelers, and then the whole what they do and everything came out of that meeting. When I drew it, I was drawing it with thought of me being that guy, and you (Jeff) being Cavendish. That’s just been a fun thing to do and we get to be in the record room together, which we never did. He was Monogram, and I was Doofenshmirtz, and there were only like, three episodes where they even had a conversation, because they were usually separated by distance.”
Does your family recognize themselves in the characters? Do you tell them it is them?
Jeff acknowledged, “They show up as little characters in there … every time you’re with them there’s fun little behaviors and things you don’t think about until you see your grand kids, people that young, doing stuff that you think it’s funny… Oh, I tell them. You have to tell them. Otherwise, it happens and they didn’t know, and then they’re really angry at you. ”
Dan shared, “I have two girls, and one’s named Isabella, who I named Isabella in Phineas and Ferb after. When I was drawing out these characters, I put a Melissa in there, and I -had it on my desk, and I went to sleep, and my oldest daughter, Isabella, had woken up before me and she left a Post-It on that said, ‘Daddy, this is not fair. You can’t put Melissa into this show and not have an Isabella. I had to call her and say, ‘You realize that there’s a big hit show with a character that’s named after you?’ ‘Yes. But Isabella doesn’t look like me and that looks like Melissa.’ and I go, ‘Oh, I can’t win. I cannot win.’ It’s like, ‘Well, because you weren’t quite born yet. We knew we were having an Isabella, and I made it look like your cousin.'”
Jeff continued, “I get things like I put my wife in a show, and she was mortified. Then what I thought was weird was she said, “I can’t believe you did that to a character designer. Made them design the boss’s wife. That was really mean of you.” and I didn’t think, ‘Oh, okay, I’m sorry.'”
Dan added, “What’s funny is the mom, Milo’s mom in this looks very much like my wife, but when I drew it, it didn’t. Then she cut her hair to that haircut and now her family thinks that I obviously drew that to look like her, and it’s not. It was a complete coincidence.”
How important is it for you to create a show the whole family can watch together?
Dan explained, “When we started Phineas it was right at the time where TV watching had gotten so segmented. There’s cable stations, there’s the Food Station, the Food Network, and Home and Garden Television, and what the research was showing was that every age group in the house had its own TV… family viewing as we remembered it from when we were kids, had sort of disappeared. When we were kids, it was the whole family on the couch watching TV. It was everybody watching one show, and you had to pick something that everybody liked, and since that was no longer the norm, people weren’t doing as many shows with the whole family to do… it just warms our heart, that we’re bringing back family viewing to the family.”
Jeff shared a fun moment with us, “I was recently on a ski lift with this 18 year old kid, and I was making jokes about my 15 year old son. I was up there with a bunch of 15 year olds and we were talking and he did that ‘What do you do?’ and I said, ‘Well, I do cartoons for Disney.’ ‘Oh, what show? Said, ‘Well, I used to do a show called Phineas and Ferb.’ and this 18 year old went ‘Oh my Gaa dude, Gaa I gotta take a selfie with you.’ I’d forgotten that now these kids that grew up on our show are 18, 19, 20, they’re in college. They have this language with their families, they have shared jokes because the show talked to everybody in the house and I think that’s awesome. “
He continued, “I had a guy when I was talking at a college, asked if I would call his dad and tell his dad to send him more money. I did it as Monogram, because they shared that whole thing, and I did it. ‘I’m here with your son, and he’s doing very well in school, but he could probably use a few more bucks,’ and I got a nice e-mail from him later saying, ‘He sent more money. Thank you.’ It was that shared humor, those shared jokes, those shared lines, that those families will have forever. Sometimes, it’s just singing the songs together.”
Dan laughed, “Part of it was just that we made the show to make each other laugh and to make the writers laugh. We all have immature enough senses of humor that we also laugh at the stuff that the kids would laugh at, but we also laugh at the jokes that the kids won’t get. We always feel like, ‘Well, let’s just put everything that we think is funny in and just make sure that there’s enough stuff in for the kids if they don’t get a reference, or something like that.’ Our only rule is, if the adult in the room laughs and the kid asks what they’re laughing about, that conversation can’t be an uncomfortable conversation.”
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Which of you has the bad luck?
Dan elaborated, “People have asked me a couple times how did you deal with all of the adversity that happened to you in your career, for instance, and I always look back on that, I always scratch my head and think did I have adversity? I look back, and there’s a lot of things that went wrong throughout and I think Swampy and I are both very positive in our outlook of life. So when things go wrong, we just go around it. People often think that you’re going down this path, and if you turn this way it’s success, and this way it’s failure. and that’s not at all what it is. “
He continued, “It’s failure, failure, failure, failure, success. You just have to keep going down whatever path you’re on, and if there’s failure here, you turn that way. If there’s failure here, you know you turn that way, and you just keep going. I think that’s part of what we were trying to do with Milo is that, things are going to go wrong for everybody, if there’s anything that we want the kids to know from this, it’s that if things go wrong in your life, don’t let it ruin your day, much less your life. Find the positive spin on it. “
Jeff explained, “My little brother and I have always grown up with people saying, ‘I can’t believe you guys turned out the way you did.’ My mom is now living in Montana with husband number seven, so there was some chaos growing up. But we always thought, well you know, it’s your choice, what you do with that. Either it buries you, or it makes you an interesting person, with a lot of experience that no one else had. ”
He continued, “When we started creating Milo, I always thought that was the coolest thing about a character that whatever life’s throwing at you, you go, ‘Well. I’m going to know how to deal with that. It’s going to make a little tougher. A little stronger. A little more interesting. A little more fun.’ Whatever it is, that’s a great thing to know, because life’s going to throw stuff at everybody and you have to figure out it’s what you do with it.”
Dan finished with, “Nobody really leads a charmed life. They just exist within the life that they have in a positive way.”
I really enjoyed talking to these 2 gentleman and appreciate how family focused they are. They even sent my son a birthday message in the voices of Doctor Doofenshmirtz and Major Monogram from Phineas and Ferb, so needless to say I will definitely cherish this for the rest of my life. As for the 2 episodes we screened, I came home and watched them alongside my kids. FYI, I laughed for a second time.
Carlee @ FLL