Get ready for hilarious hijinks of the Cromagnon kind! Inspired by the blockbuster film franchise The Croods: A New Age, DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: Family Tree series continues the prehistoric odd-coupling of the Croods and the Bettermans as they learn to live together and evolve from rivals to friends.
Premiering on Hulu and Peacock streaming services September 23, Family Tree is fraught with hilarious misadventures, containing more laughs, life lessons, and ham-fisted punch monkeys than you can shake a stick at.
Check out the trailer for The Croods: Family Tree series then meet the creators who adapted this amazing new show from its cinematic roots.
The Croods’ Evolution
Given the popularity of the Croods, adapting the film franchise for the small screen would be a daunting task for less-experienced showrunners. Thankfully, executive producers Mark Banker (Go, Dog. Go!,The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants) and Todd Grimes (The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants, Star Wars: Detours) are well-versed super-talents when it comes to representing everyone’s favorite knuckle-dragging family.
“We want the visuals of the show, and the film to be seamless; we wanted to make the show look as brilliant as the films do,” executive producer Todd Grimes tells Parentology. “So we do a lot of creative thinking when it comes to workarounds, and how we can accomplish the same visuals with the time constraints that we typically have because we are on a much faster pace than the features.”
“With a movie, you have an hour and a half to tell a story. In a TV show you’ve got a smaller amount of time, but you still want it to be a satisfying story that has a beginning, middle and end,” adds executive producer Mark Banker. “So you’re focusing on smaller aspects, maybe fewer characters, or a simpler story that you can tell in a shorter amount of time. That’s definitely a challenge moving from movies to TV.”
For Amy Landecker, who voices Ugga in the series, one of the many adventures of taking on the series was making the transition from screen actor to voice actor.
“I’m new to the game. I’ve done some animation, but I think this is probably the longest ongoing series that I’ve gotten to be a part of,” she says. “Catherine Keener also originated my character in the movies, and she is truly one of my all-time favorite actresses. So to come anywhere near her footprint was really exciting for me.”
Equally challenging for Landecker was keeping the essence of Keener’s original creation in a way that didn’t stray too far from the films, and yet make the role her own.
“We want to keep the quality of the character alive,” Landecker says. “So I try to just keep the spirit of her, and hopefully the fans won’t mind that vocally I’m in a slightly different place. The movie is definitely what the fans know, and you don’t want to take them so far away that they feel like they’re not with the same family, because it’s The Croods.”
Teamwork Makes the DreamWorks
Banker and Grimes had both worked together on The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants at DreamWorks for three years. When they joined the Croods family as showrunners, both were careful to treat these primordial predecessors with deep reverence.
“When the original Croods film came out, I fell in love with it because of all the heavy action and also how funny it was, because I also love comedy. So it was definitely the type of material that I was very familiar with and enjoyed doing myself,” says Grimes. “So when the opportunity came along to do this show, it was a very big ‘yes please’ for me. I was very grateful and immediately wanted to do it.”
Banker has equal love for DreamWorks and the Croods franchise. “The first movie is like an action movie with comedy in it. And then they let us see a very early cut of the second movie, which is more of a comedy with action in it. They hit all the bases,” he says. “So obviously it was a no-brainer opportunity to work with Todd.”
Team Croods vs. Team Bettermans
The new series is a great example of what happens when two opposing belief systems merge to create a new set of family values. For both families, their journey has centered around survival, though their methods have varied wildly. The magic happens when both realize that they have important lessons to learn from each other. Being evolved doesn’t make you right, and being strong doesn’t make you invincible.
“A lot of the show is about them navigating those differences, which is a great lesson to bring into your own home, especially if you — like me — have young, young kids who are at that age where they have to figure out how to navigate conflict and navigate their differences,” says Banker. “We spend a lot of time on that, hopefully in a way that kids and families will say, ‘Hey, even though we’re not cave people, we can take those lessons into the future.’”
Whether audiences root for the Croods or the Bettermans, everyone wants the whole dysfunctional bunch to succeed. “I think you sympathize with the Croods, but I think the Bettermans are misunderstood,” he says. “They all are coming from a good place, even if they may not do it in the nicest ways. But I’m certainly sympathetic to the Bettermans’ plight, and the desire to evolve.”
Truly, the differences that once divided them become the same factors attributed to their success. “I love the little emotional moments in this show,” Banker says. “You find out something you didn’t know about a character, or you see two characters come together and share something, or get closer in their friendship. Those moments are really satisfying.”