Back in 2017, Disney announced that they were working on a new half-hour sitcom based on the Monsters, Inc. movies to premier on the new streaming service, Disney+. However, when Disney+ debuted in November 2019, there were no sign of the critters. However, this week the first episode appeared and the wait was worth it.
It’s not easy to create a sitcom that is both appropriate for kids but entertaining for adults as well. Disney and Nickelodeon have been making them for years on their own channels, but the end result is something that the kids enjoy and parents tolerate at best. With the exception to such shows like the original Flintstones, Monsters at Work is one of the rare TV shows with a clever storyline, great animation and squeaky clean humor that is actually funny. (Not even the new Muppets Now has been able to pull that off.)
You will remember that at the end of the first Monsters, Inc. film, the energy company switched from scaring children in the middle of the night to making them laugh to power up the city of Monstropolis. But we never really got to see how well that transition did. Now we get to revisit that world and see what Mike, Sulley and the gang have been up to.
The new series opens with Monsters University graduate, Tylor Tuskmon (voiced by Ben Feldman) finding out that he just scored a position as an official scarer at Monsters, Inc. Unfortunately, he arrives at the factory the day after CEO Henry J. Waternoose has been ousted and arrested for kidnapping human children to extract their pneumothorax for energy. Mike and Sulley (Billy Crystal and John Goodman) have been promoted to the new “laugh floor”, Celia Mae (Jennifer Tilly) is no longer a receptionist and Roz (Bob Peterson) has given her former position to her twin sister Roze (also Bob Peterson). But Tylor shows up with his position eliminated and gets recruited to work in facilities department.
Although not what he expected, Tyler agrees to a position with the facilities crew where he meets Val (Mindy Kaling), a girl he used to go to school with, but doesn’t remember her. She is super bubbly and basically an all-day morning person. His boss, Fritz (Henry Winkler) is also cheery enough too. In fact, with the exception of one employee, they are all a pretty happy bunch, but this isn’t what Tyler signed up for and he sneaks onto the laugh floor to try his hand at making kids laugh – and fails miserably. This only instills Mike with the need to invest in a teacher who can teach comedy – himself.
Although inspired and in keeping with the Pixar film, Monsters at Work is actually produced by Disney Television Animation with some work being done by other animation teams as well. However, some of the folks at Pixar were used as consultants for the project. The end result is a show that looks and acts like the original with the same animation style and storytelling. Favorite characters have recurring roles and new ones are on board to keep the stories fresh.
This workplace comedy works in part because they are working with a group of established characters that all have unique and defined personalities. It’s not so different from say The Office. The writers haven’t felt the need to “dumb down” anything or resort to bathroom humor and for that, parents can rejoice. The pilot episode is neat, clean and in the end, makes you wanting more.
Monsters at Work is now streaming on Disney+.
Main Image: Tylor Tuskmon, Fritz and Val (Disney+)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.