Once again we're talking with Brave and the Bold Producer James Tucker!
During our chat in November 2009, James generously offered to do a follow-up interview with the Shrine about the "Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure" episode, which aired last Friday. So let's get right to it!:
The Aquaman Shrine: How did the idea for this episode come about?
James Tucker: We knew after his appearance with The Atom in "Journey to the Center of the Bat" that we loved how Aquaman came together as a character on the show, so we knew we wanted to use him right away in second season. I actually don't remember who's idea it was specifically to do the road trip, but I'm a huge fan of road trip movies.
As usual, the original pitch was a lot more complicated and we dropped a subplot which had Fluke the dolphin following the family on their trip. We also toyed with the idea of them travelling incognito. But that felt too logical. What I like about this show is that the average person isn't that phased by seeing superheroes.
TAS: Nice to see another of Aquaman's old foes, The Fisherman, make his B&B debut. Did you figure this was an opportunity to work in another character from the DCU rather than, say, using Black Manta or Ocean Master again?
JT: Originally I believe Black Manta did show up in the script in a fantasy sequence, but we ended up changing it to just a voice over in Aquaman's head which I think works better. I wanted to show the audience that Aquaman has more rogues (not many more unfortunately) than just Black Manta and Ocean Master. Plus The Fisherman was the villain in the first Aquaman story I ever read as a kid, so I knew I wanted to use him as soon as we had the story break.
TAS: Aquaman's Rogues Gallery is, admittedly, a bit thin once you get past Manta, Orm, and the Fisherman. Any other villains of his you'd like to work into the show eventually?
JT: Um, there's always the Flying Fish and Torpedo, Magneto and Claw. I think that was their names. Feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken. I know he's had more recent ones but they seem a lot more complicated than the earlier foes from the silver and bronze age. After that, we'd probably have to start using the rogues of other heroes. Aquaman's in dire needs of some new, good foes! It would be fun to create some new ones for him if he ever got spun off into his own show.
TAS: You guys could probably do wonders with the Flying Fish! The Chevy Chase "Vacation" movies seem an obvious influence on this episode, but with Aquaman literally bumping into one hero after another as he crosses the country, there's a "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" feel to it, too. Did that movie help inspire this story at all?
JT: Actually, that movie didn't influence story really, even though I love it. The movie that was running through my head was actually Munster, Go Home! of all things because the Aquaman family kind of reminds me of the Munsters in that they don't think of themselves as different from anyone else. So they think of themselves as just an average family when of course, they're not. I like that aspect of the show and I'm glad we didn't make a big deal about them walking around in their costumes, which to them are just their everyday clothes.
TAS: That never occurred to me, but now that you say it it makes perfect sense! Who had the brilliant idea of doing the Super Friends-esque title cards, complete with that show's sound effects?
JT: I think the title cards stemmed from my desire to do an episode that was structured like an old Hanna-Barbera super hero show. Like Space Ghost where you had 2 segments with Space Ghost separated by one with Dino Boy.
I've been wanting to do an episode like that for two seasons and we almost get close but never do it exactly the way I have in mind. Anyway, that idea evolved into the idea of separating Aquaman's team-ups with the heroes by using title cards ala H-B superhero shows, specifically Superfriends.
AMS: From listening to 10,000 Simpsons DVD commentaries I have a general sense of how a weekly animated show is constructed, how things are mostly a group effort all along the line, but I am wondering about two great little bits of detail in the show: first, when Aquaman leans on the bumper of the RV, it creaks down under his weight, because of course Aquaman is very strong.
Second, the choice of Arthur Jr.'s outfit, which I thought was a genius touch. Who came up with those little details?
JT: I can't remember if that bit of business was in the original storyboard or not. I vaguely recall the storyboard had Aquaman leaning on the bumper and then adding a note to Ben Jones, the director, to have bumper give a little, but normally that's the kind of funny, character oriented bit that Ben adds to all of his episodes with no prompting from me. My favorite bit is when Aquaman is in the saloon and the waitress hands him his drink, he gives her a quick wink. Little things like that go a long way to establishing the humanity of the characters we do.
[Regarding Arthur Jr.'s costume] That was my call. When we were beating out the story, Arthur Jr. was supposed to be a lot more emo and Wednesday Addams-ish than he ended up, and that 80s Aquaman suit always seemed a bit emo to me, so when I designed Arthur Jr.'s look, it was a no-brainer to put him in that outfit. Also given the fact that Arthur Jr. died in the comics, I thought it was a morbid touch to give him that emo demeanor.
AMS: Regarding the idea of Aquaman being spun off onto his own show--can I just officially go on record with a "Yes, please!" to that idea? (I know this not really a question!)
JT: From your mouth to WB's ear. I'd be happy with just a Aquaman special or even a DTV.
AMS: I don't want to ignore the opening segment, which featured one of the show's most unlikely team-ups: Batman and Enemy Ace! Are there characters in the DCU that you want to work into the show solely for the challenge of figuring out an organic way Batman could meet them? Sometimes it seems like the show goes out of its way to find the most unlikely guest-star possible.
JT: In this show, Batman can appear anywhere and anywhen, so no DC character is really off limits if we really want to team Batman up with them. I think people are used to this aspect of the show and actually look forward to it. Sometimes it just comes down to whether you're a fan of the guest star or not. I don't think we go out of our way to explain how Batman ends up with certain guest stars, but I do think it challenges the audience to fill in the gaps with their imagination a bit, but I don't think that's a bad thing as long as what is presented is entertaining. It's basically my job to decide what's going too far and sometimes even I get too conservative.
Michael Jelenic, the co-producer of the show, and I had a long...debate...over whether Batman should wear the aviator scarf and I was dead set against it because that seemed like going too far. Now it's one of my favorite visuals from that show.
AMS: Finally, any chance Mattel will make a Mera/Arthur Jr./RV set? I'd buy ten.
JT: Now that Mattel has that great collector's site, Matty.com, anything's possible. They're really open to doing limited runs on fan favorite stuff these days. Not so much because they make tons of money from them, because they don't, but they love this stuff as much as we do. They really are fans of the show and of DC superheroes in general. So I would say sometime down the line they may end up doing Mera and Arthur Jr. If they can do the Wonder Twins, than the field is wide open!
From talking to other Aqua-Fans over the past couple of days, it seems the opinion concerning "Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure!" is nearly universal: it was a total winner, unarguably Aquaman's best TV appearance ever. The episode managed to combine superhero adventure, laugh out loud moments, and moments of genuine characterization, not to mention about a dozen other characters and Super Friends-style title cards!
"Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure!" felt like a pilot for an Aquaman spin-off show, it was such a strong episode. Chalk up yet another winner for Brave and the Bold, and I thank James for taking some time out of his busy schedule to talk Aquaman with us again!