Disney Channel is set to premiere its latest animated series, The Ghost and Molly McGee, this coming Friday, October 1st. The show, previously known as The Curse of Molly McGee when initially revealed, was created by Bill Motz and Bob Roth (LEGO Star Wars: Three Freemaker Adventures), and follows an upbeat tween named Molly McGee and a grumpy ghost named Scratch as they learn to live and depend on each other. Ahead of the premiere, ComicBook.com had the opportunity to speak with Motz, Roth, and executive producer Steve Loter all about it.
You can check out an exclusive clip from the first episode of The Ghost and Molly McGee, provided by Disney, below:
"Tween optimist Molly McGee lives to make the world a better place, fix what has gone wrong, and spread joy," the official description of The Ghost and Molly McGee by Disney reads. "Meanwhile, cantankerous ghost Scratch lives to make the world a worse place, break what has gone right, and spread misery. When a curse from Scratch backfires, he finds himself forever bound to Molly. Despite that, Scratch and Molly form an unlikely friendship that guides each of them through the ups and downs of their respective worlds!"
As noted above, The Ghost and Molly McGee is currently set to premiere its first episode on October 1st on Disney Channel at 9:35PM ET/PT. The second episode will debut in the series' regular timeslot the following day, Saturday, October 2nd at 9AM ET/PT. Additionally, the first five episodes will be made available on Disney+ on October 6th. It stars Ashly Burch and Dana Snyder as Molly and Scratch, respectively. The series was created by Bill Motz and Bob Roth, who also serve as executive producers. Steve Loter also serves as executive producer. The show is produced by Disney Television Animation. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the upcoming animated series right here.
What do you think about what we have seen of The Ghost and Molly McGee so far? Are you excited to check it out when it premieres later this week? Let us know in the comments, or feel free to reach out and hit me up directly over on Twitter at @rollinbishop to talk all things animation! And keep reading to check out our full interview with Motz, Roth, and Loter!
The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
On the Genesis of Molly McGee
ComicBook.com: How did you come up with The Ghost and Molly McGee? What was the original pitch for this show like?
Bill Motz: So as I recall it, and this was a number of years ago, but Bob came back, I think it was from a trip, and he was like, "I have this idea." And it essentially was that curse scene you see in the first episode of the supernatural entity putting this curse on this optimistic young girl. And you think that, "Haha, he's just ruined her life." And she pivots it to, "No, no, no, this is great. You're going to do everything I do and go everywhere I go. That makes you a best friend." And he realizes, "Oh no, I didn't curse her. She cursed me." So that idea just struck us as being really funny and fun and full of potential.
And the more we were diving into it, the more we realized it was our own friendship. I tend to be the wild-eyed optimist extrovert prone to some magical thinking. And Bob tends to be the grumpy pessimistic introvert who, everything is a little suspect, maybe. And what was fun about that was, it's not just that that's a value judgment of that's good and that's bad. It was, we've been friends for 30 years, so we've shaped each other. And Bob's taught me some healthy boundaries, and good parameters, and that maybe a little healthy skepticism isn't such a bad thing, and the value of saying no to something, maybe. And I think I have also been a bit of a positive influence for Bob to open up a little more, give people maybe a second chance, maybe take in what life has to offer a little more. And so we are better people because of our friendship. And I'm hoping that the audience will see that Molly and Scratch also better people, both of them, for their friendship.
So in this scenario, Bob thought he cursed you, but you actually cursed Bob.
Bill Motz: Oh yeah.
Just to be clear.
Bill Motz: And he's felt that for a long time.
Bob Roth: "Hey, you want to write a script together?" 30 years later. "Uh-oh."prevnext
On Songs and Music
Were songs always a part of it? It obviously seems to be a big part of what I've seen so far, and including all of the trailers and things that have been released.
Bob Roth: It's a huge part.
Steve Loter: Yep.
Bob Roth: Take it away.
Steve Loter: Yeah. When we were making the pilot, it was a really small team doing it. And really, all we were doing was trying to make each other laugh. And so we get to a point in the pilot, we say, "Hey, you know what'd be funny here is a song. Hey, you know what'd be funny here? If we reprise this song with a couple of different lyrics. Hey, you know what'd be funny here? If we do a gospel version of this song." And it got to the point where we said, "Yes, songs are in the DNA of Disney, just kind of merged together in a really organic, wonderful way."
And we were super fortunate to get Rob Cantor, formally of Tally Hall, I've known him for many, many years, to come on board and do the song songs for the show. What's great about Rob is he brings the humor. He's got a quirky sensibility of humor. He brings the melody. Man, you can hum the songs the second you hear it. And he brings any genre at the drop of a hat. He can do anything. You want a Queen tribute, he's got it. You need a K-pop song, you got it. You need a country western piece, you got it. He can do it all. And so yeah, he's a huge asset to the feel and sensibility of this show.prevnext
On Curses and Molly McGee
I have to ask. When first announced, the show was titled The Curse of Molly McGee. What happened there? Marketing not a fan of attaching curse to a depiction of a young animated child, or just going in a different direction?
Bill Motz: I think we found that it was a little limiting.
Bob Roth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bill Motz: Because although the inception of the idea was the curse moment, and I think that's why we went into that and it was funny, we realized like, "Oh, this is really about their friendship more." The curse was the first action, but after that, Scratch does opt into the friendship eventually, as it goes. And so we thought, it's like, "Okay, it always was pointing back to the first episode, not the journey." And so I think the title change for the series reflected more about where they go in their journey.
Bob Roth: Yeah, it's nice to give them both equal billing. It's not a show about Molly, it's not a show about-
Bill Motz: Why doesn't the ghost get his name in the title? Or at least his acknowledgment.
Steve Loter: And Scratch is still not happy he's not actually name-checked.prevnext
On Being a Popular Ghost
Speaking of Scratch, we learn pretty quickly that Scratch, he is not a popular ghost. He's rude and crude, but... I've been trying to think how to phrase this question. What makes a ghost popular? What does a popular ghost look like?
Steve Loter: Someone that's good at his job.
Bob Roth: Yeah.
Scratch is good at his job…?
Bob Roth: He's actually not. He's pretty lazy. He doesn't really care to hear what his superiors have to say to him.
Bill Motz: And Brighton itself is already a depressed town, so misery's kind of...
Bob Roth: He's riding the coattails of Brighton's misery. He's not really doing anything to stoke the fires of misery.
Bill Motz: Right place right time, as far as misery goes, but it's not because of his actions.
Bob Roth: He puts zero effort into his work. And I don't want to give you any spoilers, but his job is to keep his little town miserable. Meanwhile, Molly comes, spreads joy. He gets swept up. He's charmed by Molly, eventually. And he starts participating too. And because he's so bad at his job, he does not really pay attention to what's happening with his misery here. So joy is going to, over the course of the season...
Bill Motz: Increase in Brighton, which means he's in trouble.
Bob Roth: In some hot water, buddy.
"Got to work now. Oh no."
Bob Roth: I'm not going to say anything more than that, because that'll be big spoilers, but that's where we're headed.prevnext
On Balancing Darkness and Brightness
Fair enough. Speaking of the ghosts, there's some decently spooky stuff in just these first few episodes--
Bill Motz: Oh, good.
I think it hinges a lot on the ghost designs and the color palettes. How did you go about balancing that? A show with an eternal optimist, extremely cheerful protagonist, but this dark, dark underbelly. It reminded me a lot of '90s cartoons like the Ghostbusters and things of that nature in some of those scenes.
Bob Roth: I think, in a way, the answer to your question is right there in the question. It's Molly. Molly is the balance to it all. Because for every moment we have where Scratch gets menacing and scary, we follow it up with her going, "Oh, fantastic job. That was a great performance." And we never linger on that horror any longer than it takes for Molly to leap in and go, "Oh, I'm just having fun. You're doing such a spectacular job here." So that's where the balance comes from. And it's baked right into the Disney DNA cake. The earliest Disney movies, Snow White has... The dwarves are hysterical, but there's some pretty spooky stuff in that movie, too.
Bill Motz: You think about, the queen wants her heart in a box. That's pretty dark!
Bob Roth: Well, it all feels like it's part of the Disney brand. And we're proud to be a part of that tradition.
And all that it encompasses.
Bill Motz: Yes. And also, for me, I felt like, as a kid I used to have nightmares all the time. I felt like I was scared of everything. So it was, for me, fun to show something scary, and then have Molly undercut that, to me felt like it was empowering for kids, that they don't need to be cowered by their fear of the unknown.prevnext
On 11s vs. 22s
We touched on it a little bit earlier, but the show is split into two, I believe, 11-minute segments rather than a single 22-minute episode. What do you think is the benefit of that as it relates to Molly McGee, versus what's perhaps lost in not doing longer episodes?
Bob Roth: I think just the kind of stories we're telling lend themselves to 11 minutes. They might overstay their welcome at 22.
Bill Motz: They're punchier. They just move a little quicker.
Bob Roth: Doesn't allow us to dwell on something so we're wringing the washcloth for laughs by the end of it.
Steve Loter: Well, and if you think about some of the classic cartoons, the Disney Silly Symphonies, and the classic Warner Brother's cartoons, they were around 7 to 11 minutes, depending. So it felt like it was the right amount of time to spend in that particular story. The characters themselves are super engaging, so you want to see them on another adventure. But as far as that story goes, that felt like the right amount of time.
Bill Motz: And a funny little trick we discovered, I think too, in that was that the songs actually helped us tell more story in a condensed form so that each episode feels like maybe it's a little deeper, a little richer than you might expect in an 11. And I think part of that is the songs helping bring forward thematically the story.
Bob Roth: So all that said, we do have a few 22-minute episodes sprinkled throughout.prevnext
On the Time Between Now and Release
Now, we're in a golden moment here, right? The press have seen some episodes, but it hasn't premiered. How we feeling? What's the vibe with you folks and everyone that made the show right now, as you wait?
Bill Motz: I will say that we've been carrying this baby around for quite a while. And though we are very much in love with this show and feel like we've made something terrific here, it's a little daunting whenever that little child takes its first step out into the world. So optimistically anxious, I guess, is maybe where I'm at? Hopeful. I think the audience will love the show, but it's always nerve-wracking to have it go out there and see if it does find an audience. I think it will.
Bob Roth: We raised it right.
Off into the world. Put it on the school bus, let it go.
Bill Motz: Exactly. Make good choices.prevnext
On What to Expect From Season One
What can you say about this first season here that's very quickly going to be coming down the line?
Bill Motz: There are some peaks and valleys on the journey. And that Molly's optimism will get tested, and Scratch's alone tendency to be a solo act gets tested. And it builds to a climactic season one ending, let's just say.
Steve Loter: All that and a goat.
Bill Motz: And a goat.
Bob Roth: And the goat.
Bill Motz: Steve loves the goat.
Bob Roth: We promise that there will be a goat.
Bill Motz: I promise there will be a goat.prevnext
On What They Hope Audiences Take Away
We touched on this a little bit, what kids can take away from the show. But what do you hope audiences take away from Ghost and Molly McGee when it does premiere?
Bill Motz: I hope that they have a great time. I hope it's fun, that they're laughing and enjoying themselves, but I also hope that they see themselves, that the journey of life can be surprising, both in a good and sometimes not-so-great way. And that together with your family and friends, you can face uncertainty and get through it. So I hope it offers joy and fun and hope.
Bob Roth: And I hope it's something families enjoy together. If it's a big hit with kids, I'll take it. But my secret hope is it's a big hit with families that becomes co-viewing, where mom and dad are as interested in watching what happens as little Billy and Susie.prevnext
Is there anything else you would like to say about the show to audiences as they prepare to watch it, anything at all?
Bob Roth: Premieres October 1st on Disney Channel.
Bill Motz: Yep. Here's what I want. I will tell you what I want. My measure of success personally, for the show. I want to go to Disneyland. I want to see some little girl wearing a Molly McGee T-shirt. That's my bar. If I see that, I will be like, "Yes. All right. Good."
It's a good bar.
Steve Loter: We have to stage that for Bill, I think. I think we can make that happen.
Bob Roth: We'll be paying off some little kid. "Wear the shirt. Just go."0comments
"He's coming. He's coming, quick!"
Bill Motz: "I don't want to wear this shirt!"prev