I got to meet one of my favorite television characters: Abby from NCIS, or at least the equally delightful Pauley Perrette, who plays her. She was at Comic-Con with Barrett Foa of “NCIS: Los Angeles” and Kirsten Vangsness of “Criminal Minds” to talk about “Tech on TV,” shows that engage the audience in the practical application of science and technology.
I also had a lot of fun with the people behind the cartoon series “Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil.” Creator Sandro Corsaro said he worked for “seven years and 51 weeks” to get the series made. It was a labor of love for him, inspired by his own childhood in Stoneham, Massachusetts. Charlie Schlatter plays the title character and Matt L. Jones plays his buddy Gunther.
We talked about what makes a good voice talent for animation. “First and foremost, you have to be a good actor,” said Schlatter (Dr. Jesse Travis on “Diagnosis: Murder”). “A lot of people don’t realize that some of the bravest and most talented actors, the ones who take the craziest risks are voice actors. We’re in that booth and we can be whoever we want to be. It’s also one of the most supportive groups I have ever worked with. That’s why you keep hearing the same people.” Jones says that voice actors are more consistently “incredible” than live actors, every one always completely committed and up to the job. “Some guys are great mimics and those guys work a ton. Then there are the guys who create different characters like Matt and me,” Schlatter said. Corsaro said they literally went through thousands of people. “Kick doesn’t really talk too much. He’s a man of action. So we wanted to get someone with bite in his voice. Like a 10-year-old Clint Eastwood. With Gunther, we needed an oddball. These guys are so willing to put themselves out there and believe us when we put them behind glass and tell them to trust us, it’s going to be incredible.” “These characters are so different,” said Schlatter. “I’ve done so many cartoons with seven or eight kids who are just about indistinguishable. It’s tough to get any kind of difference or nuance. These are so identifiable.”
“My mom’s a teacher,” said Jones. “She teaches LD kids from First-Third grade. Her kids love the show so much. I have made her so cool! The kids think it is really funny.” “The adults do, too,” said Schlatter. “And the kids I coach in sports call me ‘Coach Kick.’ I’m like a rock star in the suburbs. It speaks to how smart kids are. The animation is really cool and the subject matter is cool but it’s smartly written. It’s not dumbed down.” “And it’s an outdoor show,” said Corsaro. “So many shows are set inside.”
“The show at the end of the day is about determination and setting goals,” he said. “What kids love about it is that Kick and Gunther don’t give up. I don’t know who’s learned more, Kick from me or me from Kick.”
The three of them were nice enough to sign a poster for me. The first one to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Kick” in the subject line gets it!