Indy's Note: Rather than keeping to the form of the original Q&A, I decided to take the more interesting replies and organize them into a more regular conversational format. I did a little tweaking, but only for clarity's sake.
Okay, first question…"Did you ever
have to deal with a looming deadline where the creative juices simply weren't
flowing, and how did you deal with any such occurrence?" I answer fan questions about old shows to avoid the work when
I’m too tired to create new stuff…
First, an overall note: RR was a
cartoon series aimed at kids. We tried to make the stories interesting and
avoid the clichés when we could. When we tackled a cliché we did so with the
idea that the story would have an interesting twist.
Many of your questions want speculations on what we might have done. There’s no way of putting my head back in time with that writing staff to come up with a real answer but it’s neat that the storylines and characters have inspired people to widen their animated world with fan fic and fan art.
Gadget was based on the female character from the movie "Real Genius", the brainstorm of Jymn Magon. I think a very cute female who is unaware of her cuteness is always appealing. The fact that she was very intelligent yet absent minded was humor gravy on top of that.
The rumors that she was based on a person who dressed that way at the studio aren't true. Coveralls weren’t a big fashion statement at the time. She wasn’t changed from any previous form, as some have suggested. I did some preliminary drawings of the character but Toby Shelton did the official model sheets for all the Rangers—he's currently at Dreamworks. Any variation after that was only due to the variations in quality of the overseas studios.
Gadget's and Chip's voices were done by Tress MacNeille. Why? One, Tress is that good. Two, the chipmunks' voices are so speeded up that it would be foolish to pay an actor to only do that voice. The weird thing is that we got so good at translating the sound in our heads, we didn’t have to play back the speeded up track. We directed them in their “normal” voices.
Some have asked about Gadget's mother, and why we never referenced her. Do the cops on CSI ever talk about their mothers? There’s no reason to talk about parents unless it adds to a specific story. One person asked, "Does Gadget have fur, perhaps just really short and light colored, or is she furless?" She has fur to cover her tattoos. Others asked why we said Gadget's cooking tastes like machine oil, and whether she consumes oil. It was a joke, although the fact you couldn’t tell makes that debatable…
For Monterey Jack, we just wanted to
throw a bigger than life, wild man into the mix, one whose backstory was very
different than the others. We probably did a miserable job of writing
Australian. We just threw "Crikey", "mate" and "reckon"
into the mix. We did change voice actors, because we didn’t think we were
getting enough humor out of the reads. This was one of the first shows of Jim
Cummings, the man of a billion voices, and we basically did the series with a
very tight talent group of three voice actors plus guests.
I guess if any of the characters could've stood up separately from the series in a spinoff, it would've been Monty. Perhaps a comedy adventure of him helping animals out around the world… and half the time making things worse. Just off the top of my head.
I don’t really know when Zipper came along. Everyone thought that he'd steal the show. Everyone thought he was so cute - especially the girls. Everyone loved the model sheets & the drawings - he was expressionistic. And the no-talking thing would be appealing like with Dopey from Snow White. BUT unlike Dopey, when you combine no talking with being small & not strong & unable to really do anything... it became hard to write for him.
Romance holds little interest for the
age demographic we were aiming at. What romances we explored were for the
complications and gags they created. As for Gadget choosing Chip or
Dale, if we had taken it seriously she wouldn’t have
chosen either one. Chip ‘n Dale have a long history and having one married
would change it too much. Plus kids don’t want to identify their cartoon heroes
with their parents.
As for Dale and Foxglove, I’m sure we would have played their romance, or ugly break up, for gags. Right now I’d say that Dale dealing with an ex-girlfriend seems to offer fresher gags.
With references to things like Geegaw and Monty's Zanzibar incident, usually those adventures were chosen for how they sounded. It’s like the famous Sherlock Holmes non-story, “The Giant Rat of Sumatra.” It sounds cool and invites speculation.
As for Chip and Dale, I believe we just thought of them as friends rather than relatives. Some have asked if they have last names. Yes. Or no. I forget. Disney won’t let me say. It was ugly piece of history Walt wanted to forget…
Professor Nimnul’s design was based on
the writer, Bruce Talkington, and I did win a science fair with my electric
generator powered by cat fur—or I would have if the ASPCA hadn’t shut me down…
Another one asks how you spell Lawhiney, Lahwhiney, Lawiney, or whatever? Exactly. As for why she looked like Gadget, the only explanations were in the episodes.
Who was my favorite character? Oh, like I’m going to choose among my children.
Sewer Al was a character intended to be used in the series. I thought Sewer Al was great until I tried to use him. Combining great strength with great intelligence made him too formidable an opponent for the chipmunks. Sewernose de Bergerac came out of that frustration.
A lot of the one-shot characters were
simply used and discarded with no plans to use them further. Foxglove would be
much more likely than Tammy for that, though, given the magical world of
witches that she came from.