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Like any animated Disney project worth its screams, Monsters at Work is chock full of Easter eggs. These range from nods to the studio's other iconic properties (like Winnie the Pooh and Star Wars), to real-world events (like the sinking of the USSR Sadko), to fresh world-building elements (like a new menu for the reopened Harryhausen's sushi bar).
SYFY WIRE is excited to debut an exclusive featurette that breaks down a number of these subtle — and not-so-subtle — references in the Disney+ series. Series executive producer Bobs Gannaway tells us that all of the Easter eggs "happened naturally and came from anyone on the crew at any phase of production — be it a storyboard artist adding something in the board, or the art director dressing the set."
"We focused mostly on world expansion — using the graphics to suggest parts of the world we will never see: like the Laffeteria menu, or advertisements on the back of Roz’s newspaper," he continues. "We also focused things more inward and on our characters. For example, Duncan’s nameplate changes every episode, and whenever he’s listening to his boom box, the 'mixtape' is labeled. You have to really zoom into the frames to see those. Other things aren’t so much Easter eggs as they are just having fun: like changing the theme music every time during the credits to reflect that episode’s story, and doing something different each time with the wind-up teeth in the Mike’s Comedy Class title card. Everyone has a good time adding the details to the world."
Watch the featurette now:
Set after the events of Monsters, Inc., the show takes place between Mr. Waternoose's arrest and the original film's Laugh Floor sequence in which Sulley is reunited with Boo. While both John Goodman and Billy Crystal are back as the voices of Sulley and Mike respectively, they're not the main focus of the story, though they are running the company now.
The narrative is actually centered around Tylor Tuskmon (Ben Feldman), an ambitious young monster whose dreams of becoming a Scarer are completely dashed when the power plant decides to switch over to laughter instead of screams. Unable to put his spine-tingling appearance to good use, Tylor is given a position with MIFT (Monsters, Inc. Facilities Team), while he tries to work his way up to a Jokester.
"Honestly, I never thought of this as a sequel," Gannaway says. "It was about exploring a different division of Monsters, Inc. and telling a story with those new characters. So, yes, the events at the end of Monsters, Inc. set the story for Tylor into motion, but the focus is on his journey. That said, the series was challenging on every level — from the storytelling to the desire to match the look of the original film. The crew wanted to make sure we truly took the audience back to Monsters, Inc."
The first six episodes of Monsters at Work are now available to stream on Disney+.
Episode 7 (titled "Adorable Returns") premieres this Wednesday — Aug. 11. In this week's outing, Tylor accidentally allows the banished Abominable Snowman (voiced by longtime Pixar vet John Ratzenberger) to return to Monsters, Inc. Afraid that he'll be banished too if anyone finds out, the up-and-coming employee struggles to get the snowcone-loving Yeti back to his Himalayan home. In the meantime, Val (Mindy Kaling) tries to figure out why the snowman was banished in the first place.
"We focused on Tylor’s arc from knowing what he wanted…to questioning that want…to looking to new friends for support on how to move into the next phase of his life," Gannaway explains when we ask about potential plans for a second season and beyond. "In success, Tylor will tell us where his story goes. I knew from the beginning I wanted the first image of these episodes to be a door opening…and the last image to be a door closing."