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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Thoughts on Monsters at Work

 It's here!  Another one of the very first Disney+ originals has finally made it the streaming service.  And that's what was once hyped as Pixar's first original half-hour series for the streamer, Monsters at Work.

Monsters at Work Logo

I don't know what kind of politicking happened behind the scenes at Disney, but this is no longer branded as a Pixar production.  It's now listed as being produced by Walt Disney Television Animation.  Regardless, I'm still a Pixar junkie and anything that they're even tangentially related to gets my interest.  And when you're developing a series, the Monsters, Inc universe is just ripe for development, especially when you're getting into the workings of a power plant like Monsters, Inc works.  

Our main character is Tyler Tuskmon, the purple guy with the big horns you see in the picture there.  He just graduated top of his class at Monsters University and is all ready to become the next top scarer at Monsters, Inc.  Just one problem:  this takes place just a couple of days after the events of Monsters, Inc.  The Monster world is now switching gears to generating power by getting kids to laugh, and Tyler now has the completely wrong skillset.  When he shows up for his first day of work at Monsters, Inc, he's assigned to MIFT:  the Monsters Inc Facilities Team.  They're the maintenance crew, who spends most of their days in the basement waiting for the call to come fix something.  

So who are the wacky misfits that Tyler is now stuck working with?  We've got:

Fitz, the grey guy with the big nose.  He's the head of MIFT and just desperate to be liked.

Duncan is the green guy with bat wings and multiple eyes.  He's second in command and has his eyes on Fitz's job if/when Fitz retires.  He instantly sees Tyler as a threat and makes it his mission to destroy Tyler.

Cutter is the green one in safety gear.  Always has a morbid story about how a previous MIFT member was killed on the job.

Val is the orange, furry one.  She's an old college friend of Tyler's and is always cheerful and perky.  She's voiced by Mindy Kaling, so, yeah, it's Mindy Kaling being Mindy Kaling.  

But that's not all.  Also coming back from the Monsters Inc films are Billy Crystal and John Goodman as Mike and Sully.  Sully is now running Monsters Inc, and Mike is helping out the scarers become jokesters by teaching courses at Monsters Inc.  Of course, Tyler takes those courses, because he's desperate to adapt to this new world and get out of the basement.  

Also coming back from the films are Jennifer Tilly as Mike's girlfriend Cecile, Bonnie Hunt as Ms. Flint (the person running the simulator in the film), and John Ratzenburger as the Yeti.  Although, Yeti wasn't in the first two episodes.

Got to see the first two episodes for review purposes.  The first deals with Tyler showing up at Monsters, Inc and coming to terms with the new situation.  The second one follows his first day on the job as he realizes that MIFT has a pretty important role.  We also get to see Mike and Sully in their parallel journey as they adjust to being the ones in charge now.  There's a bit of a story arc that they're setting up as well, as there are mysterious power outages at Monsters Inc that they're trying to get to the bottom of.  

There's still a bit of Pixar charm in there.  One thing I really liked about Monsters University is how it's about the death of dreams.  Mike comes to the terrible realization that he'll never be scary enough to be a scarer, so has to adjust to the real world accordingly.  Monsters at Work very much continues that theme.  Tyler's journey is all about realizing that the real world isn't what you thought it'd be, and learning to adjust accordingly.  Even though it's colourful monsters in a fantasy world, it is still a very relatable story.  

With our cast of characters, it's easy to make comparisons to The Office.  Fitz is Michael Scott, desperate to be loved by his employees.  Duncan is Dwight, a stickler for the rules and desperate to advance.  And, well, Mindy Kaling is Mindy Kaling.  But just as A Bug's Life took its cues from Three Amigos and Cars took its cues from Doc Hollywood, it'll be interesting to see what new direction they can take these characters in.  

I think Monsters at Work has lots of potential.  I'll be tuning to see where this goes.  The first season is 10 episodes long.  The first two episodes drop on Disney+ on July 7, with new episodes every Wednesday after.  

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