“SuperMansion” may be produced by Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, but don’t think Crackle’s new stop-motion animated comedy is merely a clone of “Robot Chicken.”
Sure, they share an animation style, some of the voice talent – Seth Green, Zeb Wells and Tom Root, among them – and tendency toward off-color humor, but the similarities pretty much end there. For instance, while “Robot Chicken” as well known for its relatively short sketches, “SuperMansion” is telling a continuing story.
"We found that serializing and having running plots worked really, really well,” Wells, “SuperMansion’s” co-creator, told journalists at New York Comic Con. “If we get do a second season, I think we would push that a little. But, by the end of the season it was really fun to start paying off the entire series.”
The series, which debuted Oct. 11 on Crackle, center on the League of Freedom, a team of superheroes struggling to remain relevant even as they try to figure out how to share a house. It’s as much a bizarre sitcom as it is an opportunity to poke fun at superhero tropes.
"We quickly figured out that the superhero parody, kind of the jokes that the characters are based on, are gonna be funny for one joke or maybe two," Wells said. "It's gotta be character comedy first and foremost."
Those characters should be led by aging hero Titanium Rex, played by “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston, but he has his own problems. "Around Episode 6, Jillian [Bell of ‘22 Jump Street’] shows up as Titanium Rex's illegitimate daughter,” Wells said. “That's a fun way for Rex to explore what it means to be a father."
He’s not the only one with troubles, either. For example, the part-cat, part-human Cooch has trouble adjusting as well. "And, then Cooch has to deal with having another female roommate. But Cooch isn't really just a female because she's also a cat,” explained Wells, who also voices the character Jewbot. “We wanted to play with the sexy, cat woman-type character. Because it's kind of bizarre how you're sort of meant to be attracted these sexy characters, but if it was truly a cat what does that mean?”
Cranston and Bell are joined on “SuperMansion” by the likes of Heidi Gardner as Cooch, Keegan-Michael Key as American Ranger, and Tucker Gilmore as Black Saturn. "He just brings so much human emotion to the role," Root said of Cranston’s performance. "He would sort of steer the character in directions they weren’t expecting."
Although the writers threw in a few "Breaking Bad" jokes to take advantage of Cranston's involvement, the humor of “SuperMansion” remains focused on superheroes and their behavior. "Comic books seem really simple at first,” said Root, who plays Brad, “but there's sort of a never-ending supply of stuff to make fun of, so I'm looking forward to that.”
Because the show’s serial format, many of the jokes contribute to the greater story. "It's so different than 'Robot Chicken,' and a I had a few people that I knew from ‘Robot Chicken' working on it,” Wells said. “What's cool and fun about 'Robot Chicken' is that as soon as a joke isn't funny the sketch is over, you just bail. Then when we're writing these shows the scenes have to work and they have to advance the characters."
If they have the ability to advance the characters to next season, Wells would love to dive into Rex's backstory. "We wanted to check in and explore if Titanium Rex ever had a Clark Kent alter ego,” he said. “So some writer had pitched his alter ego as Mel German, fashion photographer. But he had done it for, like, a month but got pissed off because he didn’t like being a fashion photographer and he was super-embarrassed about it and didn’t want to talk about it.”
Root would like to see more jokes about the "Dark Ages" in comics. "There's this whole run of Image Comics from the '90s, and actually Marvel was doing the same thing,” he said. “It was just these gritty characters with guns, with bigger and bigger guns, and pouches full of ammo, and then pouches on top of those pouches."
"SuperMansion" is now streaming on Crackle. The first three episodes are free.