Q: Just to get the obvious questions out of the way: how close are the Dan and Chris from Dan Vs. to its creators, Dan and Chris? Is their animated relationship anything like your own?
Dan Mandel: The characters are loosely based exaggerations. We’ve basically cherry picked some of our negative qualities and exploited them for comedy.
Chris Pearson: Well, Dan did. We had to make up some negative qualities for me, as I have none in real life. Also, in reality we’re nicer to each other.
DM: The relationship is not the same in real life. Chris makes me drive to him.
Q: How did you two meet and how long have you known one another? Where did you two grow up?
DM: We’ve known each other for about 16 years.
CP: That sounds right. Dan and I went to the same high school.
DM: I grew up in Reston before moving to McLean sometime around the 5th grade (D.C.’s Virginia suburbs, i.e. “fake Virginia”).
CP: I haven’t grown up yet.
Q: Are there any influences either of you draw from in making this show?
CP: Calvin and Hobbes, for me. While we’re not direct descendants, sometimes I think of the Dan character as Calvin as a grownup, if his life had gone horribly wrong somewhere.
DM: I’ve had a lot of influences over the years, but I don’t think we pull specifically from any one influence in the creative process.
Q: At what point did you realize, “we must make this a show”?
DM: I’ve felt that way from the beginning. I’m guessing Chris felt that way when he came on board.
CP: Dan’s original idea was for a live-action sitcom. When we started developing it as an animated comedy, the possibilities really opened up.
Q: What were some of your favorite cartoons and movies growing up?
CP: For cartoons, Spiderman and his Amazing Friends, G.I. Joe, Dungeons and Dragons, the usual, I think. I saw a lot of movies growing up, because my grandmother would take me to whatever awful film I wanted to see that week.
DM: I watched all of them. Every Saturday morning until 11am or noon, when the grown up shows took back the airwaves. That was when the funny shows were on. Then there was the after school block. That was mostly action and fantasy stuff at the time. Movies too. As a kid, I had a real taste for low budget action, sci-fi and horror films, but I was into all genres.
Q: The cast/voice talents on the show are really fantastic, what was the process like in finding the voices to bring your characters to life?
DM: First we listened to pre-recorded auditions. Then we had several rounds of callbacks. If you really want to meet a bunch of television regulars, hold auditions.
CP: We heard a lot of good voice actors, but even in his initial submission, Curtis Armstrong stood out. He just had the voice of “Dan” nailed from the beginning. Dave Foley is, of course, hilarious. And Paget Brewster, who came on board a little later, often has us cracking up in the sound booth. We got very lucky with our cast.
Q: Is anyone, or anything, safe from the wrath of Dan?
DM: Ummm...Bridget Fonda?
CP: I’d say we’re limited only by our own good taste. And the Hub’s. And Standards and Practices. But really, part of the fun of the show is that Dan can take on his mailman one week, and the Lost City of Atlantis the next.
Q: Each week, Dan versus something or someone—what inspires these battles?
DM: An inherent need for personal justice.
CP: An inability to live a normal life.
DM: Well that, sure.
Q: Are there any issues you feel are actually worth fighting for?
CP: Like, physically fighting for?
Q: How involved were you in the development of the cartoon characters?
DM: Is that a trick question?
CP: Pretty involved, for people who can’t draw. Our incredibly talented Supervising Director, Matt Danner, and the gifted artists on his team were great about keeping us in the loop while they were designing the looks of the characters.
Q: What are the odds we’ll be able to see Dan Vs. comic books?
CP: Uh, fifty-fifty?
DM: It’s probably a little early yet to think on expanding the brand.
Q: Dan, is it true you played an ‘electrocuted electrician’ on the television show, What Should You Do? If so, what was that experience like and has Chris seen Dan’s performance on the program?
DM: It is true. It was fun, despite having to drive out to San Pedro at 6 in the morning. I doubt Chris has seen it; I haven’t seen it.
CP: I have it on "repeat" in my DVD player. I just can’t stop watching Dan get electrocuted.
Q: The HUB is a really entertaining, fun network (launched on 10.10.10); could you tell me why it's a good home for a show like Dan Vs.?
CP: The exciting thing about being on The Hub is that, with our show, we get the chance to help create the Hub’s identity.
Q: Aside from having your original program air on the network, what about The HUB do you both love the most?
CP: I like the combination of classic television shows and original animated and live-action programming. But mostly I’m excited about our show.
DM: Margaret Loesch. Nuff said. Excelsior!
Q: Do either one of you have children? If so, do you watch television with them? Do you ever discuss what you watch? If not, do you think it's important for families to watch television together?
CP: I have a one and a half year old daughter. We’re going to try to keep her away from television as long as possible. When she does start watching TV, I hope she watches shows that we can enjoy as a family.
DM: Hm? What? Sorry, I didn’t hear the question…
Q: Dan Vs. features the wonderful voice talents of Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter, the parents from "Family Ties" (also on The HUB), as Elise's parents. Was this casting in any way a tribute to "Family Ties" or completely unrelated? How did they get involved?
DM: The idea actually came from one of our great executive producers, Jay Fukuto, who had worked with them on Family Ties. When he brought it up to us to try to get them for Elise’s parents, we jumped at it. They were definitely a big part of my Thursday nights as a kid. Now if we can only get Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad next season to play Chris’ parents…
CP: I loved Family Ties and Meredith and Michael were wonderful to work with. We’re going to have them back as often as we can.
Q: How would Dan from Dan Vs. fare, hanging out with Fraggles down in Fraggle Rock?
DM: I imagine the proceedings would likely devolve into a back and forth radish pelting.
CP: I imagine Dan would end up with a Fraggle-skin coat.
MAKE SURE TO WATCH THE PREMIERE EPISODES OF DAN VS. ON 1/1/11 ON THE HUB = 9pm(EST)/6pm(PST)
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