Operation: INTERVIEWS was supposed to be the sooper triple grand finale LAST episode we wrote. But before that I was writing the KND/BILLY AND MANDY crossover. Maxwell Atoms and I came up with a really fun story about giant pants-eating ants--
Which was roundly rejected outright by Cartoon Network.
(More on that when I post tidbits about the crossover)
But the production machine needed to roll on, so we put the crossover aside and jumped into Operation: INTERVIEWS!
So how could we come up with a story GIHOOGIC enough to wrap up 6 seasons?!
How about a car carrier for cruise ships?!
How about a world-wide scavenger hunt?!
How about almost every character that's ever been on the show making an appearance?!
How about the final big giant huge reveal of the Galactic KND?!
And a big, fat, sloppy, weepy good-bye?!
Aw maaaaaaan, I LOVED when we came up with this...
How about LIVE ACTION interviews with the KND after they became adults?!
So what can I tell you about this mucho grande finale?
• Originally I wanted the scavenger hunt to involve an artifact from every KND episode we did. We wouldn't specifically name them all, but I thought it'd be cool to have them littered throughout the episode. A golfball from MINIGOLF, a turnip, Mr. Huggykins, the pizza from REPORT, etc etc. But it proved to be too massive of an undertaking... and some episodes didn't have blatantly obvious objects that represented themselves.
• Casting for the live action sequences was a bit challenging. We had VERY specific requirements for the characters since they had to really look like adult versions of the KND. We looked through probably 500 headshots and auditioned around 25 people for each character. It's sooooooo much easier when you can just DRAW the character the way you want... but here are some little anecdotes about each character's casting.
• We thought casting Numbuh Three was gonna be easy... but then made the mistake of asking casting agencies for a Japanese actress. And we got LOTS of Japanese actresses that would have made an awesome Numbuh Three! The problem was that they all had reeeeeeeeeally thick accents! In some cases we could barely understand a word they said when they read their lines (saying "The Rainbow Monkey Let's Go To The Lavatory Fun Park" proved especially problematic). So we had to go back and do another round of casting, but this time ask for an Asian American. And Ms. Sonnie Brown totally fit the bill and her kids were psyched she was gonna be in a KND episode!
• We met a couple really good Numbuh Fives... but Fran Jaye knocked us out of the park. Her attitude was dead on and she was a blast to work with. Which was important because she had the most lines.
• Ric Stoneback nabbed the role of Numbuh Two. While he wasn't exactly what I wanted visually, his laughter and sense of humor TOTALLY sold me on him. A very funny, easy going guy with a great personality!
• Curt Hostetter was hysterical and really threw in some great ad-libs. And his look was perfect for the aged Numbuh Four. But I think he thought we were all completely insane.
(NOTE: A lot of you have been asking for the actor's and actresses' names for a loooooong time... sorry about the wait!)
So what else can I tells ya?
• When Father grabs the KND with his 'Fists of Flame' Cartoon Network insisted they be colored green instead of fiery colors. We wouldn't want to flame-broil the kids, now would we...
• Yup... Nick and Chip are back. And I don't think it's any secret that Chip was based on baseball's own Harry Caray. And I'll assume most of you saw Better Off Dead? If not, check this out:
Can I just say that Savage Steve Holland is my hero?
• Pottymouth was originally designed as one of the background villains in Operation: MOVIE but the design department spent season after season demanding he get a speaking part in an episode. He didn't until Season 5's Operation: AWARDS where he won BEST TOILET-BASED VILLAIN-- a complete slap in the face to the Toiletnator. We originally wanted 80% of Pottymouth's words to be bleeped out, but CN was afraid viewers would be able to read the bad words on his lips. My suggestion that we record him saying NICE things and then bleep them out was also rejected. To be honest, I think his 'We're gonna flush that doody-filled poo poo cake right down da poopin' toilet' 'cursing' actually turned out better!
• Speaking of potty humor... I can't believe no one made us change the name of the log flume; The Drop-A-Log? I thought for sure that one was a goner.
• I still get the chills when Numbuh One shouts, "Because the Kids Next Door will NEVER end!"
• Since I wrote the first half of the special, Mr. Andy Rheingold was on the second half. But when he got to the big good-bye scene, he realized that he couldn't... or at least thought he shouldn't... write it. It had to be me. He probably only decided that when he saw that there was a LOST marathon on TV that weekend and figured writing would get in the way... but he was right. I needed to say good-bye to my children.
And it was painful. Reeeeeeeeeeal painful. I was bawling as I wrote each of those good-byes. Each was a killer in it's own right.
Numbuh One's Mom hugging him good-bye...
Numbuh Zero telling him to show those Galactic KND chaps how it's done...
Numbuh Two packing him some supplies...
Numbuh Three playing dumb...
The hurt Numbuh Four swearing that if Numbuh One needs help they'll come running...
and Numbuh Five leading Sector V again...
But Numbuh One's last shout of "KIDS NEXT DOOR... good-bye."
I'm gettin' all misty just typing this...
But if I wasn't, then I didn't do it right.
And I'd be remiss in not mentioning something about the little bit at the end regarding who ended up marrying who.
So I'm remiss.
(Mwa HA HA HA!)
Um... Then there were the end credits. We decided we wanted to show a frame from each and every episode in those last 30 seconds. That's over 150 frames we had to pull... and when I say we I mean Post Production Potentate Oren Kaunfer and Aerial Editor Dave Courter! And it's harder than it sounds-- each frame had to immediately and totally read as the episode it was representing since it was only going to be on for a couple seconds.
But I still wanted to leave everyone with one final image.
Something that summed up what Codename: Kids Next Door was all about.
I thought about it a long time.
And I doodled a lot of ideas in my sketchbooks.
And eventually it came to me:
I'm proud of that.
Just like I'm proud of my five kids.
My Kids Next Door.