Created by Bill Motz and Bob Roth and produced by couple and Disney Animation veteran Steve Loter, The Ghost and Molly McGee is a softly comedic, surprisingly dark, and infectiously charming television series. Disney seems to agree, with the series already getting the green light for a second season ahead of the series’ Disney Channel premiere on October 1, before arriving on Disney + less than a week later. Focusing on enthusiastic Molly McGee, the series follows what happens after she is confronted with the ghostly slacker Scratch when her family moves into a new home. However, her attempt to scare her wholeheartedly backfires when she decides to have the Spirit as her new best friend.
Ahead of The Ghost and Molly McGeePremiere on Disney Channel and the Disney + streaming service, CBR sat down for an exclusive interview with Motz, Roth and Loter to talk about the history of scares in Disney Animation. The trio also discussed recruiting Rob Cantor to lead the songs for the show and shared what it’s like to be a part of the Disney Animation legacy.
CBR: From the shoot, The Ghost and Molly McGee kiss this Strange couple-Aesthetic style that works great, pitting that Molly ball of energy against the more isolated and antisocial Scratch. Why was this an important element to play for the series?
Bill Motz: Well, storytelling is a story of opposites, so Scratch is the introvert who doesn’t want anything to do with anyone. The odd couple formula lets you know that the other end of this has to be someone who wants to get to know everyone and who is going to train them. It was kind of built into the very first notion we had for the show, is that that moment in the episode itself, you’ve seen it now where he put the curse on Molly and then it goes wrong,
It was the pitch of the show, almost word for word. This ghost casts a very stupid curse on a girl and ends up being dragged into her life. What really gets us excited about this show is that you can see how Scratch transforms, sees the curse as a curse initially, but as the season unfolds and progresses, their friendship gets closer and closer and he becomes charmed by Molly and they become best friends.
Bob Roth: She and Scratch actually share the same need. They need to have a real genuine connection with someone, a friendship. Scratch acts like he doesn’t need it. He said, “I don’t need anyone else. Molly does, but because she’s moved so much she hasn’t been able to have a truly meaningful and deep connection. And he resisted one, so together they sort of fill that need for each other. That’s kind of the reason we brought him in after moving so many times.
What was it like to merge the Disney aesthetic and style with the more overtly horror elements of the premise?
Steve Loter: I think it’s always about balance, and it’s always about making sure you’re doing a Disney show – you’re doing something that has the right balance of humor, heart, quirk, and in this case, some sweets are scary. But the fun thing about Scratch is that it’s so flexible you can do anything with it. He could transform into a big creepy ghost and then transform into an adorable cheeky little character a second later. It was about trying to find the balance of the character, because ultimately, Scratch is a good guy. Scratch isn’t really trying to scare or scare anyone, they’d rather just sit down and eat pizza, and probably watch TV, so it’s all about finding the balance.
Bob Roth: It’s a Disney classic to have the moment of fear. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – she’s in the forest and it’s scary, but I think there’s something empowering too. As a kid I was a little scared of ghosts and that sort of thing, so Molly’s response, once she had the scary event of being like that, was an amazing performance. It mitigates the horror.
There is an element of the series where most of the episodes work on their own, but there seems to be an overall plot to do with the otherworldly Ghost Council and how they want the world to be. What was it like balancing these two pieces of the story, to make sure one didn’t overwhelm the other?
Bob Roth: Our bread and butter is our simple little Molly and Scratch series, but we have a common thread running through the season that the more joy Molly spreads – and she spreads a lot of joy – the worse it will be for Scratch. He doesn’t pay much attention because he’s pretty ugly at his job. So it’s going to spill over by the end of the season and it’s going to put him in a difficult position. He’s going to have to make some tough decisions.
Each episode screened for the press featured a silly and often subversive song. Was music always going to be such a big part of the show?
Steve Loter: Well, that was a really nice find. As we piloted together, [we realized] what will be great here is a song, and then we just kept adding more songs and more songs as we went, just because it made us laugh and it really uplifted the project. So you had this wonderful song of encouragement … Sounds like one from those 70s, like “You can do it!” from The Pointer Sister … great if we liked some kind of gospel version here? “
It was like, “Let’s keep adding more and more music.” But what was really lucky for us was who we got to do the music – Rob Cantor from Tally Hall, who I’ve known for many, many years, came on board to kind of do all these songs. for the show. He is absolutely amazing. If you’ve seen Shia LaBeouf’s video, you know her work is not only hilarious, but also melodic and fantastic. Having Rob with you makes you want to put even more music into each episode, actually.
Bill Motz: I have to say that every time he emails us one of his demos like, “What do you think? Is that what you thought? “… Last night, actually, he sent something rather late last night, I just jumped on the computer to listen to it immediately because it’s like a little gift that just got sent to you and oh, man, this brings us tremendous joy. I know people will love it because no two songs are the same. They are really everywhere and they are so much fun. And then our score composer, Michael Kramer, as you saw with the softball episode, we sort of grade each episode according to the genre of the story we’re telling, so in the softball one, there’s this epic baseball score in this is what you are used to from your classic baseball movies.
Thinking back to Disney Animation’s long legacy, and in particular its connection to the supernatural, what is it like to see The Ghost and Molly McGee join this pantheon?
Bob Roth: It is an honor. We’re thinking of the Disney legacy, and you can go anywhere in the world and say Mickey Mouse, and people will light up. Disney characters, the Disney brand is known everywhere you go. So to have the Walt Disney company say, “Yeah, you guys, we love your idea, we want to make your show and we want to get it out to the world…” That’s a privilege. It is an honor. And then bring in the kind of spookier elements that Disney is so good at, like the Haunted Mansion is almost everyone’s favorite, right? I won’t be happy until we see Scratch himself in the Haunted Mansion, but that’s another story. It’s so natural with the Disney brand and that’s what we’re very proud of.
The Ghost and Molly McGee will premiere Friday, October 1 at 9:35 p.m. ET / PT on the Disney Channel. The second episode debuts in the series’ regular timeslot on Saturday, October 2 at 9:00 a.m.ET / PT on Disney Channel. The first five episodes will be available Wednesday, October 6 on Disney +.
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