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This is Tim Hodge talking about The Green-Eyed Monster.


Tim Hodge: Hello and welcome, everyone, to the first DVD release of the new Penguins! series. I'm Tim Hodge, executive producer, uh, and I'm going to be giving you a commentary and, hopefully not ruining your visual experience by talking over all the funny gags.

Tim Hodge: Um, this is episode called The Green-Eyed Mons--no, yeah, Green-Eyed Monsters. Um, written--well, we'll find out in a moment.

Tim Hodge: Believe this one was written by Robert, um, yeah, Robert Lee. Robert G. Lee, a favorite of one of our writers in Big Idea. He's done several VeggieTales episodes, starting with, uh, The Ballad of Little Joe. And he was a natural fit to the humor involved in Penguins!

Tim Hodge:'s our big emergency.

Tim Hodge:, um, that, uh, have--uh, Michelle having a room on the ship was a new development. Uh, both the kids do. Uh, it was based on, um, an idea early that we had, that, uh, the kids were gonna be stuck on the ship. It was, uh, gonna be a fun plot element, I thought, is gonna be kinda a Gilligan's Island/Lost in Space motif, you know, with the, um, you know, every week, they were gonna be trying to get home because the galeezel was broken! And in that plot, the, um, that, you know, Cavitus had the one part they needed, so their enemy was going to also be their rescue, week after week after week. And, uh, but, uh, cooler heads prevailed, and we thought that, you know, we do need to see the cottage in each episode, and have the prayer time at the end with Grandmum. So, there we have it. It went back to closer to the original motif.

Tim Hodge: And, uh, yes, Tod Carter, another Big Idea, uh, regular, uh, storyboard artist, and, uh, he started directing for us in Penguins! And, um, yes, this is...Michelle's room, which is kinda this, uh, half moon shape. And the other half is, um...Jason's room, as you can see. The idea is their, their rooms are somewhere in the middle of the ship. Um, if you...really do a strong calculation of space in the ship, you find out the ship is much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. And we've kind of, uh, pushed the...realms of reality just so we could have, uh, more sets and more places to go because realizing that, if all the action takes place on the bridge, we're gonna get bored pretty quick.

Tim Hodge: Oh, and there's our friendly navigational system. You remember him, we've seen him lots of times. No! We haven't. That was written in the script just for this episode, and, uh, originally, I thought, you know, just reading the script that was just gonna be some dial or display that we have already, and nothing really, really worked, and of course, we wanted it to sneeze and talk. So, we had, um...uh, our, one of our artists, our freelance artist Cedric Hohnstadt, uh, um...designed him as a character, and this is the only episode you will ever see him in. Navi the navigator, that is.

Tim Hodge: Yes, a series of origami jokes. Which is, is weird when you're, uh, having, um, modelers halfway across the world, create these, uh, origami shapes, when they have no idea, necessarily, what the, the script is, because each, each artistic department doesn't necessarily know what the--haven't seen the storyboards, so you're--you--we've drawn these pictures of these origami swans and, here, make them--supposed to look like a map, for--fold it--star map, fold it into origami, and they've got no clue, so we went through a few rounds of making it look like, uh, origami, so the joke would read.

Tim Hodge: Now Sol, the keeper of the, of the Comet Lounge is, uh, a new character for the series. And he did come out of the idea that I was talking about before, where we weren't gonna be going back to the cottage, so we needed a voice of...of wisdom, someone to dispense the, the proverb of the week, since Grandmum wasn't gonna be there, and, uh, so we came up with this, uh, soda fountain manager, Sol, like Solomon.

Tim Hodge: I know, I love that joke. Now, this little scene right here, where Michelle turns her head, to deliver her line, that was something that was added late actually because we realized as we were going through the storyboards, that the, um, peanut butter, um, uh, gag, which ends up being important to the plot, it wasn't really clear that they were loading up with peanut butter. Then we, we saw the bags of peanut butter going by, but it's like "That's not really clear. Nobody's gonna get that they're loading up on peanut butter." So we had, uh, the mi--uh, the actress who does Michelle record that line a little bit late, we'd already actually done the animation, and since we didn't have any lip sync to go with, uh, we made sure she would just turning her head, so we didn't have to actually do lip sync and we could drop in any line we wanted. She could have said, you know, "My, Midgel, you look nice today."

Tim Hodge: Now this is uh, uh, uh, kind of a dangerous gag to do, in that we're showing someone flip peanut butter on a T.V. screen, and we're hoping that nobody gets an idea to actually do that, so, kids, if you're listening to this commentary, and you just haven't gotten bored with it so far, please, never ever ever flip peanut butter on your T.V. screen. It's funny on, you know, what, for penguins, but no, no, your parents will be horribly upset with you, and you'll be mowing your lawn a long time to pay for a new television, especially if you've got one of those LCD or plasma screens.

Tim Hodge: Planet Picket, yeah, we went back and forth about how to, um, put that picket fence around it, you know, we thought "Should it be a giant fence that sticks around the edge, and, you know, and, or, should float around like Saturn's rings?" Ultimately, the Saturn ring type prevailed.

Tim Hodge: And the, the classic Penguins! landing. We didn't do that every episode like we did in the original six that were direct-to-DVD, uh, just cuz we, um, were strapped for screentime. Those episodes ran almost a full half-hour, these were--got trimmed--were running about 22 minutes because we have to put in commercial time for television, of course. So, we have to streamline our storytelling styles, so repeating gags, like showing landing gear, eat up valuable story screen--screentime, for story.

Tim Hodge: And the story on the sheep here, we notice we have red sheep and we have blue sheep and one that's a little both. Um, when we wrote the script, we knew we needed two different species or factions of, uh, sheep. And, um, you know, on Earth, we have white sheep and black sheep, but that, that one's too usual, that's its, uh, well this is, uh, an interstellar location, it's a planet, so we have to have weird stuff, and notice their tails, that little weird antenna things on them, too. Um, but we--how can we come up with two new colors, which, you know, there's millions to choose from, obviously. But, um, we thought red and blue would be fun, cuz at the time, we were still going through the, you know, the red states and the blue states were still making headlines in the news, so, uh.

Tim Hodge: Oh, ewe. A ewe joke. Bob Lee loves puns, so who--a writer. So if you find an episode that is rife with puns, you can bet Bob Lee did it. He's, uh, great with them.

Tim Hodge: Oh, and the one sheep that's both red and blue, we realized whichever sheep is gonna be in charge can't be one side or the other, so we--we mixed his--his species...thing.

Tim Hodge: This acting of Michelle right here is really really great. I love the way she...she goes through her hand gestures and moves her little body back and forth. And that smile. For me! Oh, she's great. I really appreciated that, and working with animators who are on the other side of the world, literally. And we're on an eleven hour time difference, the communication becomes rather tricky, so when I can get somebody who can pull off great acting like that without a lot of coaching, I really really appreciate it, espe--I never meet these guys face to face. And, um, I mean, none of the directors do, I--I didn't direct this episode. Todd couldn't be here today, um, but as executive producer, you know, involved in just about every step on this, so if something goes wrong, it's my fault. So being executive producer means everything is your fault, and you don't sleep much.

Tim Hodge: Now that idea, the grass on the other side of the fence, that's how this whole, uh, the plot idea started. Cuz when you--we knew we wanted to do a plot about envy, and we--just start, you know, throwing ideas around, like, uh, you know, what does envy mean, it means jealosy, means you want something else, but--and you come up with all these phrases, that, uh, common phrases that embody that. I'm coming back to that, I just noticed Michelle's got a sock there, and she doesn't wear socks. She's worried about her socks getting eaten. But anyway, um, so we throw out phrases like "the grass is always greener on the other side fence", things like that. And, oh, that'd be a fun motif, actually have a fence and grass on both sides. We could do a planet like that. And what creature would, of course, be jealous or envious of grass would be sheep, so the whole starts with a common phrase, and we build a whole plot around it. And then, there is the green-eyed monster, the other common, uh, uh, term for--for envy, which I believe is actually a Shakespeare phrase. Um, if I remember my English classes well enough, he was the first one to actually put that in print. So, by watching Penguins!, you learned Shakespeare! So, tell your parents, it's educational.

Tim Hodge: And that little communicator device was uh, um, we use that a lot in this--in the new series. It was actually based on an old 50s transistor radio style, I had it, an old radio, and I, uh, took some photos of it and gave it to the--the, uh, the designer, who was, uh, the art--freelance artist who was designing it, and he based a lot of his ideas on--of course, he changed it a lot, but we wanted that. uh. future retro look, which is what all Penguins! design is based on.

Tim Hodge: The location here, um, the, the planet, the trees, this building itself, were all designed by Phil Demetrius, who's worked with VeggieTales for a long time. He works freelance with us now. He used to be a, you know, an onsite artist. The characters, the new characters, the sheep and the, uh, the green-eyed monster were designed by Cedric Hohnstadt, who will, you'll hear me talking a lot about, uh, Cedric, cuz he's done a lot of design work for us. A lot of characters, and just, always comes up with the most fun and pleasing, uh, character designs. Check out his website.

Tim Hodge: Yeah, counting sheep to go to sleep. I wish we could do more stories with this green-eyed monster, he was such a fun little character. I think he could be a bath toy. You could squeak him, you know, and the bubbles.

Tim Hodge: And I love the way on board the ship, Fidgel's got a broom, and they have the Fix-Bot there to sweep things up, but they still have the conventional broom.

Tim Hodge: Yeah, I think on these lines, we only had, like, two or three actors to read those lines, and we just kept stacking them until it sounded like a hundred sheep.

Tim Hodge: (laughs) Oh, chase scenes are always fun. That's something we didn't do a lot in the original six direct-to-DVD episodes. You noticed, we've got two locations split with the action. We have some people stay on board the ship, and some people go to the planet, and we tried to repeat that, because it really is, um, a beneficial storytelling motif, where you can--it speeds up the pace of the film, and plus, you can, you know, have a little--small cliffhangers, where you leave one location in the middle of the problems, so you wanna get back to it, then you cut back to the other guys, and--if you ever do any screenwriting classes, you'll find it's a very common and beneficial, uh, technique.

Tim Hodge: I love that line. Grass is grass is grass!

Tim Hodge: Oh, and those scenes, you know, when we animate things all out of order, because, you know, just whatever, uh, uh, scene is ready gets handed to an animator, so those scenes in the, in the, in the big hall of--of sheep, we weren't sure, depending on which act we were in, which side had red sheep and which side had blue sheep, and we had to go back and correct a lot of those cuz we realized we had the wrong sheep on the wrong side. Hopefully, we got them all right, if you notice any mistakes, keep it to yourself.

Tim Hodge: You see? The peanut butter came into play.

Tim Hodge: Oh yeah, that thumbs up! And I don't know if you notice that in the, uh, in his communicator, the little thumbs up sign was a--actually, I think I did that. One of the few little emergency pieces of art I come up with at the end, cuz we, we have a staff of very talented artists who do all this, but occassionally, an emergency pops up, and nobody's around but me, so I have to, you know, help out, um, but I think I actually pulled that from an old VeggieTales episode we did. I think I, uh, it was a stamp for the countertop sequence on God Made You Special that we didn't use. But I still had it on my computer, so (laughs), like "Here's a piece of art real quick!"

Tim Hodge: Great character bits with Zidgel. We found that the less he does to help a problem, the better and funnier it is.

Tim Hodge: Yeah, fade outs like that, with the going to a commercial, of course, you don't have commercials on DVD, thank goodness. But, uh, that was another little motiff we had to get used to writing for, and, um, going right for T.V., as opposed to the original DVD episodes, which they were, you know, a straight thirty minute little mini movie, and we have to make room for--for our sponsors to-to give their voice. And of couse, we want to leave it a little--at a dangerous moment, something that's a little bit of a cliffhanger, so the audience comes back after a commercial.

Tim Hodge: I love the way (laughs), I love the burp. But I love the videoscreen they watched. It seems like no matter what you want to see in space, there's a camera somewhere to look at it.

Tim Hodge: Again, some of the animation I just got a real big kick out of. You know, working with people half a world away. The timing of this-this scene right here, with them sneaking up behind the monster. And ever--everybody sneezes when they don't need to. And that, would have--was just incredible timing, is that they almost get eaten and then the jar comes down and traps him.

Tim Hodge: (laughs) Zidgel's got great reactions here.

Tim Hodge: You know.

Tim Hodge: Great little pose acting from Zidgel here. I love Midgel's, uh, pose there, too.

Tim Hodge: Just some nonchalant--the trees in the background, again, those were designed by Phil Demetrius. Very kind of, Dr. Seuss inspired. Uh, great reaction coming up from Zidgel here, I love this. (laughs) Go back, go back and--and freeze frame and just advance frame by frame through that action when he--when he turns and does that--that take, hilarious.

Tim Hodge: There's a little bit of trivia here when she knocks the jar off the--off the shelf there, you just hear it bounced (makes sound effects of bouncing glass), um, I think the original idea was you heard the jar break, but it was pointed out to us by, uh, network, um, consultants that you can't have or hear or show glass breaking on children's television, it's a--it falls under child endangerment. We had to make sure we never had broken glass anywhere, makes sense.

Tim Hodge: Oh, the Fix-Bot. Supposed to be a recurring character, I think we only used him in two or three episodes in this season. But, uh, we came up with him thinking "Oh, this will be a great new mechanical device to solve problems" so we needed something aboard the ship to--to get fixed real quick. But, uh, it's a fun design. I believe Cedric designed him as well, with the--looked like a little trash can, until he's activated, his arms pop out.

Tim Hodge: Yeah, we--we decided that designing Michelle's room was tricky, because the first idea was going to be all pink and pretty, you know, no no no, it's temporary, it's, uh, it's basically was an old storeroom that she converted with leftover furniture things, so we put the little wallpaper motif around the side like she painted all the rivets, to be like, like stars. Not stars, flowers. Yes, we wanted to give it a little kind of a makeshift feel. A last minute girl decoration of a--of her room.

Tim Hodge: And everybody gets along. Yay! Contentment rules.

Tim Hodge: And somehow, the penguins get their ship cleaned up on the outside, cuz we have the grass stain all over the belly of it.

Tim Hodge: (laughs) I love that little gag, too. It's so minor, but it's the subtle things that really get me every time.

Tim Hodge: All's well that ends well. That's a--that's a Shakespeare quote. See? Twice. That's a veritable Shakespeare festival, in this episode.

Tim Hodge: So, we've had to leave the--the scene on a moment with a lesson, and then, but it's always funnier to leave the scene on a gag! Like that one.

Tim Hodge: I love the screen wipes there, too, where we have the spinning, uh, figures of the--of the characters that come up and wipe the--a new development of the series. Oh, this scene, it's Grandmum. This was really really fun, of course, we always try to hide Grandmum's face. And that scenes like this set it up with the--the lampshade in--in the front. Uh, this whole sequence. We always cut just before we see her face, with the great job of hiding it. I think, um, I don't remember who storyboarded this, but, uh, did a great job in just made it game to see how well we could hide her face.

Tim Hodge: I like this shot right here, where even with the camera move, if we kept the camera one place, she probably would have walked out behind that lamp, but we, uh, rotated the camera around, so to keep the lamp in place, and then, a cake, which somehow doesn't need a pan to bake in, becomes another device to hide Grandmum's face. And right before she moves it, we cut.

Tim Hodge: I think this is one of the--the best epi--sequences for that whole twenty episode series that we've done. We always hide her face, but that one was the most playful, made it a really great game of almost showing, but not quite.

Tim Hodge: (laughs) Bigger than what, as we get a nice view of her backside. An unintended joke. (laughs) And see right, she almost steps into frame here, and then we cut. Brilliant, brilliant camerawork, whoever, uh, did that. I wish I could take credit for it, but I can't.

Tim Hodge: And, uh, we tried to end every episode with, uh, saying prayers, not all of them end this way, but we have--at least, this feeling. If we ended every episode, it could get rather monotonous. And we have a continuity error here, right. Somehow, the little blankets appeared, just an oversight, and by the time we noticed it, it was unfortunately too late to fix it. So, you probably see another little mistake here and there in these episodes, and if you do, again, keep it to yourself. We don't want to hear about it, we probably know about more mistakes than you do.

Tim Hodge: (laughs) Now, they're all sick. They got the virus from the navigational system.

Tim Hodge: And the most important part coming up now, the credits! Which you get to see them full widescreen on DVD, instead of on the Saturday morning, where they're all scrunched over to the side running twice the speed. So, if you happen to be one of these, uh, talented people's parents, now you can actually read their name and be proud. And write them an email, saying "I read your name onscreen! I read it, so wonderful!"

Tim Hodge: Thanks, everyone, we'll see you for the next episode! It's Tim Hodge, signing off.