Monday, January 20, 2003

ALAN BURNETT TALKS STATIC SHOCK

Courtesy Toon Zone:
by Jim Harvey
------------------------------------------------------------------------

With the new season of Static Shock premiering this weekend, the creative crew is gearing up for a third season of action, thrills, and drama. Alan Burnett, a producer for the series, was able to provide Toon Zone with some insights into the upcoming season.

The new season of Static Shock will open with an episode guest starring Batman with Harley and Poison Ivy as the villians. Burnett couldn't be more excited about the premiere.

"I loved coming back to Gotham again, loved working with Paul Dini, who wrote the script, loved seeing all the old familiar faces in the recording studio," said Burnett. "Static is fun with Batman, because they are such opposites in so many ways. It's always interesting to see Batman's world through someone else's eyes, especially a kid like Virgil."

Also, fan speculation about what Batman design will be used for his new appearance has caused an uproar among fans. Can the fans expect the same design featured in "The Big Leagues" episode from last season?

"Yes, the design is basically the same as last time," said Burnett. "You won't see Robin this time, but you will see three other regulars from the old series - Bullock, Gordon and Alfred."

"Let me also add that there's some other team-ups: the Justice League (in a two parter) and a Superman-Static team-up." Burnett stresses that alot of changes are instore for the new season of Static Shock, in both character design and attitude.

"He's a year older, so his look has changed, both with the mask on and off," said Burnett. "My fellow producers, Denys Cowan and Swinton Scott, have also done a makeover on all the other characters and on the backgrounds in general. On the story front we've gotten a little darker -- a lot of the action takes place at night this season -- and we've brought in older, more threatening villains. We've made Richie into a superhero, partly in reaction to our audience, which has been clamoring for Static to have a superpowerful partner. We believe we've done it in a way that's very organic to the series."

"The introduction of Gear (Richie's alter ego) has centered the series around the two boys more than ever. The first two years we did a variety of stories, some centering around Virgil's homelife, some around school, some with Richie, some without. Once Richie became Gear, it focuses us more on their relationship. Though Static still remains the star, their superhero partnership has definitely defined the third season."

One thing Burnett plans to emphasize on is Virgil's relationship with Richie, as well as Richie's new role in the series.

"Well as I said, our audience really wanted to see this," said Burnett. "I think Virgil and Richie, as voiced so beautifully by Phil Lamarr and Jason Marsden, have one of the most natural-feeling friendships going on in cartoons, so it wasn't too difficult to take it to the superhero level. I don't want to give away too much about how it is that Richie gets his powers at this time, or even what the powers are, but you'll see him in action in the new main titles."

A lot is in store for Static this season, including an episode which will get to the root of Virgil's strive to be a superhero, which was breifly touched upon in previous seasons.

"We have an episode coming up, written by my story editor John Semper Jr., which takes us back to when Virgil's mother was alive," said Burnett. "She's voiced by Alfred Woodard, who was wonderful. The show is about loss, and grown men who've seen it get choked up. We also have a story where the Hawkins family vacations in Africa, and Static has an adventure there. It's written by Dwayne McDuffie, and it's unlike anything you've seen on Saturday morning."

"On a side note, we also have a episode coming up with Lil' Romeo, who performs the new main title song. And he's terrific."

Static Shock, which premiere's this Saturday at 10:30 ET, is expected to be a ratings champ. With a full thirteen episode season ahead, Burnett assures that this is a season not to be missed.

"This should be a great season. I mean, in what other series are you going to see Lil' Romeo, Superman, Batman, the Justice League, Brainiac, the Toyman, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Ghana, Gotham City, Dakota, and a bunch of new heroes and villains?"