Cartoon Network’s Emmy-winning animated series “Regular Show” has taken everything from 1980s video games to unicorns to getting the nerve to kiss the girl you like and blown them up (in some cases, literally) to absurd proportions in its continuing adventures of Mordecai, Rigby and the other disaster-prone employees of The Park.
With the show’s first two seasons coming out on Blu-Ray and DVD on July 16, we talked with series creator JG Quintel about everything from how the show has evolved to the presence of Thomas the Intern to plans for the future and more!
MTV Geek: So, JG – the “Regular Show” episode, “Family BBQ,” had a lot of viewers asking a lot of questions about how the biology of the show’s universe works, with Margaret’s dad being depicted as human in a family full of birds. Is this something where we should just repeat to ourselves, “It’s just a ‘Regular Show,’ I should really just relax?”
JQ Quintel: < [Laughs]. I think so. It’s really funny, because I didn’t think of it that way at all. I saw it online when the comments starting rolling in, and everyone was going, “Wha…?”
But “Regular Show,” for me – I know that everyone sees them as blue jay, gumball machine, raccoon, human, whatever – but for me, they’re all just people. So it’s how they’re perceiving one another, but it’s not like it’s a man and a bird, you know what I mean? But I know how people just tuning into the show and checking it out might be taking it uber-literally, like “Wha…?”
Geek: It’s like the running gags with Hi Five Ghosts where sometimes he’s intangible, sometimes he can be hit, he’s shown growing up, he doesn’t handle actual death well, etc…
Quintel: Right, right. It’s the comedy of the moment.
Geek: Sort of a deliberate inconsistency.
Geek: But even with those types of jokes about inconsistency, it’s been interesting how the characters have gradually evolved – Mordecai and Margaret are now dating, Muscle Man’s in a serious relationship, there’s the new character of Thomas coming in. Is this something you all consciously wanted to do going into this run of episodes?
Quintel: You know, it is. When the show was first picked up, it was kind of a stand-alone show, and every episode sort of needed to be its own thing and ending with everything reset back to zero, and that way anyone catching the show later could watch any episode and be caught up – “Oh, it’s ‘Regular Show,’ you know it’s going to be funny.”
But at a certain point, you know, you can’t have the characters stuck in, you know, this stasis forever. Like, you have to let them grow and become different people.
I feel like everybody is slowly evolving. Like, Rigby used to not be able to stand Eileen, and now they’re good friends. And Mordecai and Margaret, that is probably the most pronounced arc that we have in the show, and Muscle Man and Starla, and…just everybody.
You know, at the very beginning of the show, it was very clear that Benson was the boss and he’s a jerk and all that, but through watching the show, you realize he does care about Mordecai and Rigby, he just doesn’t care for the way he handles themselves and how they behave at their jobs [laughs].
It’s kind of cool to, you know, get enough episodes to do something like this. Because, we didn’t know how long we were going to last, and now we’ve got enough episodes that we’re able to really explore the characters.
Geek: What’s very interesting about the character of Thomas is that he kind of exists at this point to almost represent a contrast to how close the other park members have become. He’s the nice guy who doesn’t get the intricacies of all these relationships, and there’s all these little moments where they’re ganging up on him.
Quintel: [Laughs] I know! That’s another one where I feel like a lot of people didn’t get it or didn’t see it the way we saw it. A lot of us who work on the show have been interns in our lifetimes and remember those days.
As an intern – and as an unpaid intern, as most of us were – you don’t get treated with a lot of respect. You’re treated in a way that’s not overtly mean – though it can be perceived that way – but more that you’re going through the rounds of getting your chops busted, and that’s how you get into the workforce. And then people will accept you, and you’re brought up, and then you’re one of the crew, but for now, Thomas is kind of going through that phase of, “He’s the intern!” [Laughs]
Geek: It’s interesting – the first couple episodes where he appeared, I had friends complaining, “Man, there’s so much of Thomas! He’s taking over the show!” But he’s really fallen into the pecking order of the park – he’s almost seen like Mordecai and Rigby were at the start of the show, where they’re really disregarded by more experienced employees like Muscle Man.
Geek: And the formula of the show has been consistent, but it’s evolved from the earlier episodes where, “Mordecai and Rigby take a shortcut; this backfires horribly; the world is nearly destroyed” to where the characters are taking more active roles in their lives and the little metaphorical catastrophes that happen every episode are often more connected to the characters’ emotions.
Quintel: Oh yes. For sure. All the kind of insane, surreal elements that happen in the show due to their choices – they’re all based on that feeling when you’re in a really bad situation and your emotions are running high, how that can make you feel. And though animation, we can make that feeling be anything, but it’s always really fun to push it, and make those do-or-die moments really crazy.
Quintel: We are! The video game is set to be released later this year, actually. I’m really excited about it because I’m a huge fan of video games – I grew up with video games, and put that into the show due their huge influence on me as a child. The game is coming out for 3DS, and I can’t wait for it to be out there and see what people think.
Geek: Of the stuff that’s come out recently, from a plush Hi Five Ghost you can actually high-five to the recent thumb-wrestler pieces, do you have any “Regular Show” merchandise of which you’re particularly proud, that you would have killed for when you were a kid?
Quintel: Well, there are a few things, like the Mordecai and Rigby pull-string dolls. That’s just kind of bizarre for me, being able to pull a string and hear my voice coming out of a doll. That was a really interesting moment.
As far as other things, I’m excited about the comic books, which just came out, because we have a bunch of different artists writing them and drawing them, and tackling our style. And just to see them in print, it’s really neat. And there’s going to be books in the future, there’s going to be costumes, and a lot of cool stuff that I’m really excited for people to see.
Geek: Now, you aired the 100th episode a few months back, but given how animation works, how far ahead are you? I saw one place where you mentioned you were working on the 160th episode…
Quintel: We haven’t completed 160, but that is what we’re in the middle of producing. We’re still a ways off from finishing Season 5, but we’re in the middle of working on it, and we’re just now – today, actually – finishing the Halloween special that’s airing later this year. That’s the first episode we have for Season 5 that’s finished, and we’re very excited for people to see it.
Geek: That’s been a fun series of episodes, where you tweak the Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” episodes and have these situations where the characters can actually die – even Hi Five Ghost, though he’s still a ghost when he’s a ghost.
Quintel: [Laughs]. Yes. And that was a huge inspiration growing up, those “Treehouse of Horror” episodes from “The Simpsons.” I loved those episodes.
You know, “Regular Show” already kind of pushes the envelope, but to have a Halloween episode where we can really go all-out and even if we write ourselves into a corner, can go, “It’s okay if they die in this one…” It’s fun to take advantage of that.
Geek: Are you planning any kind of long-term arcs, now that you’ve had some success and can plan ahead a bit? You’ve even had some jokes in the show with Mordecai and Rigby half-joking about working at the park forever, and the sense that maybe they want to do more than that.
Quintel: Hmm hmm! Well, for now, for where we’re at, we’re still kind of working with the Mordecai/Margaret arc, and I think as time goes on, we’re going to find ourselves wanting to search for more, because, you know, once you’ve made 160 episodes…that’s so many episodes! I mean, I’m starting to get to the point where I can’t remember the names of some of the episodes, which is really weird. I’ll be, “Which one is the one where they get the grilled cheese sandwich…?” [Laughs]
We’ve done so many stories where it’s Mordecai and Rigby-focused that we’ll probably start doing more focusing on the other characters. It’s pretty exciting to be breaking that open.
Geek: So, will Hi Five Ghost finally get his long-awaited spotlight?
Quintel: Well, I don’t want to ruin anything, but there will be Hi Five Ghost episodes in the future! Those are ones that haven’t aired at all yet. I know people are excited for Hi Five Ghost.
“Regular Show” airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. EST; The Complete First and Second Seasons comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray on July 16.