Dawn of the Croods follows a prehistoric family as they discover the mundane tasks we take for granted. A simple stroll outside the home cave can turn into a life-or-death chase. Tasting a new food can lead to disastrous consequences. Getting new neighbors? Well, that can be just plain hilarious.
Based on The Croods, the DreamWorks Animation movie that debuted in 2013, Dawn of the Croods is an animated series onNetflix that shows family members Eep, Grug,Thunk, Ugga, Sandy and Gran dealing with every day life, thousands of years before cellphones and fast food were around.
Executive Producer Brendan Hay knows a lot about comedy, thanks to his time working on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken. Dawn of the Croods, however, is aimed squarely at families, unlike The Daily Show and Robot Chicken, which are late-night shows for grown-ups. What about Dawn of the Croods interested him? “I tried to imagine it as the first family sitcom. What spoke to me was the family dynamic.”
No doubt The Flintstones comes to mind when you hear about a funny animated series that centers on a prehistoric cartoon. But Brendan Hay is quick to point out, “It wasn’t a Flintstones type of thing. They really are primitive.” How so? How could the Croods be more primitive than the Flintstones? “We look at the first nap in human history, because nobody has ever slept during the day before. Or having hiccups, which confounds everybody, like, is there something trapped inside of you?”
Hay describes his favorite episode, which is about the invention of shadow puppets. In the episode, Thunk, a quiet boy, uses shadow puppets to tell stories, and finds himself the center of attention. “We asked, what if he’s a creative kid at a time when creativity confuses people?” explains Hay, “He actually has an outlet.” His favorite moment? He laughs and says, “Hush, hush-a-bye bloodthirsty baby, the first nursery rhyme.”
Putting together a cast for a TV series that’s based on a hit movie can be difficult. Audiences expect to hear the same voices in the TV series that they heard at the movie theater. A producer has to hire not only sound-alikes, but also actors who are talented enough to interpret the material.
Stephanie Lemelin (Young Justice), who plays Eep, and A.J. LoCascio (Seedlings), who plays Thunk, voiced their characters in marketing spots for the movie. Grey Griffin (The Adventures of Puss and Boots) and Dee Bradley Baker (Star Wars Rebels) had worked with Hay before. Dee Bradley Baker, who is known for playing animals and creatures on Avatar: The Last Airbender and Phineas and Ferb, does all the creature sounds for Dawn of the Croods, as well. Hay says, “We’re keeping all the mash-up creatures.”
The cast comes together to record each episode. “We try to record as a group as much as possible,” says Brendan Hay. “You get magic that way. It’s so much more fun for everyone. We want there to be a sense of togetherness.”
The biggest challenge of adapting a successful animated feature film into a TV series wasn’t casting the right actors or finding the right animation style. Hay says it was fleshing out the main concept. “What is a family sitcom? How do we marry slapstick and verbal comedy? Our biggest challenge was figuring out how to make it work.” Having Dawn of the Croods on Netflix, rather than a traditional network, gave Hay and his team more flexibility. “It opened things up.”
Dawn of the Croods premiered its first season on December 24, 2015.