Anything involving Guillermo del Toro is a reason for celebration, but when you put him together with an animated series that we're already excited about, well, then things get really interesting. Del Toro landed at New York Comic Con 2018 today, and he got right down to business — it's time to take a look at the next installment in the Tales of Arcadia series, which is titled Tales of Arcadia: 3Below.
Our first encounter with Arcadia (and tales of it) took place in the excellent animated series Tales of Arcadia: Trollhunters. All three seasons of that show are now streaming on Netflix, and del Toro had a producing hand in all of it. He also personally directs the premiere as well as the finale. The result is an epic fantasy smash that deserves attention — it is one of the best fantasy shows around, whether animated or otherwise.
Nestled snug in the middle of the final season of Trollhunters, we met a pair of very unusual "exchange students" that were visiting the town of Arcadia — they were voiced by the legendary Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) and Rogue One star Diego Luna. It wasn't just a one-off appearance — Maslany and Luna's characters are the leads of the next installment in the series. Their apparent "strangeness" is because they're actually alien royalty stuck on Earth.
The NYCC panel for the new show naturally featured del Toro, alongside Luna, Rodrigo Blaas (producer/writer/director, and voice of Gnome Chompsky on Trollhunters), writer Marc Guggenheim, and Executive Producer Chad Hammes. Glenn Close (and her dog, Pip) also showed up as a surprise guest. Why is that? It turns out she's in the show!
What can we expect from this new series? According to del Toro, Trollhunters was "very much the way I remembered, not necessarily the way it was, watching Johnny Quest." He descibes 3Below as an immigration story — an alien prince and princess (and their bodyguard) go looking for the worst place in the galaxy where they will never be found— Earth turns out to be that place, of course. They choose three forms that nobody will notice, those being a Latin boy, a girl, and an elderly gentlemen.
Luna (who plays the alien prince, Krel) said that anytime del Toro calls anyone in Mexico, "they melt." He was interested in the immigration aspect of this story, though his kids also loved Trollhunters and were very excited that he would be joining that world. He also likes that he's once again doing a project that he doesn't have to hide from his kids. Luna does a hilarious impression of del Toro, madly saying, "Ohhh, it's gonna be GREAT!"
del Toro praises Maslany (the alien princess Aja), calling her "one of the best actresses working." He calls her truly transformative (which is not a surprise) and says that both she and Luna found their characters in the very first session. "All of a sudden we were all better directors and writers, we're really really good— no, she's really good."
Glenn Close will play the voice of the alien mothership (called Mother) who grows to understand humanity and their ways more and more. She also was sure to say that she'd do anything that Guillermo asked her too, adding, "...fairy tales and the great Disney animated features did and still do feed who I am." Because of that, she is thrilled to be a part of this.
Are there any other castmembers we can look forward to hearing in the show? Absolutely — the alien bodyguard will be played by none other than Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation), who is a warrior-suddenly-turned-senior citizen when he appears on Earth. Despite his appearances, he will still "talk like Conan the Barbarian," according to del Toro. He adds that this character will have a huge arc, and that he's fallible. Uzo Aduba, Hayley Atwell, and Tom Kenny were also mentioned as being a part of the cast, and many Trollhunters characters are set to cross over also, including Steve Palchuk. He will continues to fill the role of the "used to be a villain, but has turned into a hero" trope that del Toro adores.
Some of the show's inspiration came from memories of the science fiction of the 70's and 80's, as well as "the emotional part," Blaas said, addressing the importance of this aspect. For all of the genre elements at play, it's still going to be a story of two kids looking for home.
Will there be Trollhunters easter eggs? Guggenheim says "absolutely," and that this will go so far as to include a full-on crossover. The series overlaps with Season 3 of the flagship show, so expect Toby and ARRRRGGHHHH to pop up, as well as Eli, Blinky, Jim, and Claire — the episode that featured Aja and Krel will be told from the other perspective on 3Below.
What will set it apart from other shows on television? del Toro says that they begin (as they always do) by mapping out the entire season with Cuban food. He mentions the dynamic of animated classics like Adventure Time and Gravity Falls....both of them appeal to audiences both young and old, and he hopes that the same will be true here.
We'll testify that it will be, because they showed the first episode of the series after the audience gave del Toro some early birthday wishes. How was it? We'll describe it with one word, said three times: hot, hot, HOT.
The episode was directed by del Toro and Blaas, and was written by del Toro and Guggenheim. It plays like a crazy mix of sci-fi and fairy tale, with plenty of del Toro spice in there as well. It's hilarious one moment, dazzling you the next, and then ripping your heart out. It's beautiful to look at (the action is superb) and the performances are excellent.
Luna and Maslany anchor the show beautifully (especially Maslany), though Offerman looks like he will probably steal it all. He's not only hysterical, but he provides some heartbreaking moments of sincerity that you don't see coming. There are notes in there that we've never seen Offerman play, and it's a thing of beauty. We didn't hear much of Close's character, but what we did hear was great. It bears repeating: If you're a Trollhunters fan, get ready to binge the heck out of this.
3Below will premiere on Netflix on December 21.
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