On July 29, Netflix and DreamWorks Animation will release the first season of Home: Adventures of Tip & Oh, an animated series that picks up the story after the film Home. Home was based on Adam Rex’s book The True Meaning of Smekday (though the film and series diverge from the book), and both the film and series were created by DreamWorks Animation. While the film was 3D animation, the Netflix series is 2D animation.
Back in May, I visited DreamWorks Animation for a blogger day as part of the Netflix Stream Team, where we were given an advance look at the series (as well as Voltron, which I’ve already written about a lot). We got to see the first episode: each one consists of two shorts, about ten minutes long, and the series starts off with Oh realizing that he doesn’t want to be the supreme leader of the Boovs but would rather be part of Tip’s family.
(In case you’re not familiar with the story, a quick recap: the Boov took over Earth. They’re not particularly threatening-looking aliens and are also not incredibly intelligent, but they have advanced technology. Oh is a misfit even among the Boov, and he winds up befriending Tip, a spunky young girl who was on a mission to save her alien-abducted mom. By the end of the film, the Boov and humans have sort of made up, but many Boov have decided they like Earth enough to stay.)
Over the course of the day, we got to meet several of the people involved in the show, including Ryan Crego, executive producer, and Todd Garfield, co-executive producer. Crego introduced the episode we watched and explained that for this series they really wanted to zoom in on this family: Tip, Oh, and Lucy (Tip’s mom). There are a lot of stories they could tell after the events of the movie, but they wanted this “Perfect Strangers with a space alien twist” feel to it.
We also met a couple of the voice actors: Rachel Crow, a young singer who made it to the top five on X Factor in 2011, provides the voice of Tip, and her personality seems like a great fit for the character. Ana Ortiz (from Ugly Betty) is the voice of Lucy, Tip’s mom, who has a very easygoing attitude when it comes to the weirdness of having an alien living in her home. Comedian Ron Funches provides the voice of Sharzod (and some other characters as well)—Sharzod is a completely over-the-top Boov that I expect will be stealing a lot of scenes.
We also met with Alex Geringas, the composer for the series. In addition to the background music, the episodes will also feature original songs. Geringas said that Rachel Crow and Mark Whitten (who does the voice of Oh) are both good singers, so he’s able to write songs and trust that the actors will be able to perform them. Since the team is able to work closely together, Geringas was even able to write songs inspired by the actors recording their parts. One thing that was important to them was to write songs that weren’t strictly tied to the show’s plot—they are songs that should stand on their own, but also add to the story.
Blake Lemons, a supervising producer, explained the visual design of the show. They went with 2D animation partly because the showrunners came from a storyboard-driven background. They use hand-drawn storyboards to plot out the show, and liked the feel of the cartoons. Mark “Thorup” Van Orman, a co-developer of the series, created the Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack for the Cartoon Network; Crego and Lemons both worked on Sanjay and Craig. You can see some similarities in the visual styles of these shows with Home. It’s a style they thought fit a TV format better than the 3D animation, which was good for a feature film. With Home, they also decided to add patterns to the backgrounds—drawing from inspirations like Ezra Jack Keats’ picture books—while keeping flat colors for the characters, making them really pop out.
The show does feel a little bit hyperkinetic—maybe I’m just getting too old for that—but I did enjoy the characters. Their outsize personalities result in some friction and interesting dynamics, and the series really digs into that.
Home: Adventures With Tip & Oh will be released on July 29 on Netflix, so stay tuned!
Disclosure: I was invited to attend this blogger day as a member of the Netflix Stream Team.