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Disney Show a Dynamo With Tweens

Feb 9, 2004  •  Post A Comment

If you don’t know “Disney’s Kim Possible,” you probably don’t have kids.
The half-hour animated comedy-action-adventure series premiered on the Disney Channel in June 2002, and was one of the nominees last year for Outstanding Children’s Animated Program until someone realized its 6:30 p.m. debut made it ineligible for a Daytime Emmy. Now eligible, the show has become a tween phenomenon, inspiring catch phrases (“What’s the sitch?”), a hit song (“Call Me, Beep Me”), soundtrack CDs and music videos, an animated cable movie and DVD and a host of other commercial tie-ins, not to mention a few hundred thousand teen crushes.
Midriff-baring Kim (voiced by 19-year-old Christy Romano of “Even Stevens”) is a female role model extraordinaire-a sassy high school cheerleader who saves the world from evil super-villains in her spare time. Kim not only doesn’t shun geeks, she relies on two of them for help-affably inept best friend Ron Stoppable and child-genius/tech-support guru Wade. She’s cute, smart and has a heart of gold.
“Growing up we always had heroes like James Kirk of `Star Trek’ who were capable of all kinds of incredible things,” said Mark McCorkle, creator and executive producer of the show with Bob Schooley. “Bob and I both have daughters, and we thought if you can create a character whose accomplishments in the action arena are nonchalant, that would be cool. And that led to the key to the series, which is that the action stuff is easy; it’s the everyday stuff that’s hard-asking a boy to a dance, dealing with parents, baby-sitting little brothers.”
“Kim Possible” is the first original Disney Channel animated series developed and produced entirely in-house (with Walt Disney Television Animation). The network wanted to tell a story about ordinary kids in extraordinary situations-if possible, with a pet.
Friends since college, Mr. McCorkle and Mr. Schooley already had impressive writing-producing credits, from Emmy-winning shows such as “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command” and the animated “Hercules” to Disney’s first direct-to-video video premiere, “The Return of Jafar,” one of the top five best-selling direct-to-video animated films in history. With “Kim,” they finally had the chance to create characters from scratch.
“We wanted Kim and Ron to be real teenagers, smart and media-savvy, and the villains to be kind of cliche,” Mr. McCorkle said, “so that there would be a generation gap-Kim and Ron would always know the bad pun the villain is about to say.”
“We’re not trying to make stuff for kids that’s `good for them’ like broccoli,” Mr. Schooley pointed out. “But part of entertainment is good storytelling, and good storytelling means characters that have some depth, and a character arc or issue that has some meat to it.”
Director and executive producer Chris Bailey, along with art director Alan Bodner (“The Iron Giant”), developed a unique retro-modern visual style for the show, drawing from years of combined feature animation experience going back to “The Little Mermaid.”
“To me, this is one of those unique shows that really fires on all cylinders,” said Walt Disney Television Animation President Barry Blumberg. “It’s got a tremendous design style, the writing is fantastic, the voice acting is wonderful, great comedy and suspenseful storytelling. And our executive producers really hit their stride in the second season.”
And the pet they chose? A now-widely beloved naked mole rat named Rufus.