Chris Nee is the creator, as well as writer and producer of Disney Junior hit series “Doc McStuffins”. The show recently completed its first season and has become a worldwide phenomenon from merchandise to phone apps. The series has already spawned a new short-form spin-off called “The Doc Files”, which starts airing on July 22nd. and recently released its first season soundtrack, “The Doc Is In”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Chris about her work on the show and what we can expect from the spin-off, as well as the upcoming season two.
Mike Gencarelli: Let’s talk about the new short form spin-off series “The Doc Files”, what can we expect?
Chris Nee: What I think is exciting about this show is that we are able to go back and revisit our favorite toys from past episodes. Like Bella the Ballerina and Poppy, some of the toys that have been on the show and been big hits but we haven’t found a way to bring back in the actual season. So that has been exciting for us as writers. So we also able to bring back some of our favorite songs from season one, so that is also fantastic. For me what was exciting is seeing the show in a new visual style. Obviously they are shorts, but are are anxious to get more material on the air as we get ready for our big push for season two coming up. We are going this series in a 2D style and it is a really exciting way to open up the view of what this show is.
MG: How many episodes have been produced so far?
CN: We have done ten episodes so far of “The Doc Files”. Five are starting to air on July 22nd and five are being
tucked away and will air later in the year.
MG: Any challenges in doing from the regular series to the spin-off series?
CN: It is always hard for me to be short-winded (laughs). So getting my sensibility down to a three minute format was definitely difficult. For people that watch the show, I think that one of the things we do well is marry a lot of tones and make sure we are getting a lot of jokes in while still having emotion. It takes a full twelve minutes to do that usually. So this is like a haiku version of “Doc McStuffins”.
MG: Talk to us about the recently released soundtrack “The Doc Is In”?
CN: I think we got very lucky on this show by bringing in Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley, our composers. They really haven’t done kids music before. I think you can hear that in the music, as it is incredibly catchy for kids but also for adults as well. I am really excited about the soundtrack. For me, I live and breath these shows and I have heard these songs so many times and you think I would be sick of them by now but when I popped in the CD, I was just so proud of them. I am excited that we were able to get all those songs together. In season two, we are looking to do some longer form songs. It is exciting stuff.
MG: How important do you feel music is to the show?
CN: I think it is a huge part of the process. A lot of our songs end up telling the lesson of the episode. I think it is a great way for us to get very specific with the lessons that we are trying to teach without them feeling too preachy in dialogue. Suddenly when you put them into a fun, boppy song, you can talk about drinking water or wearing glasses and it is very different. We thought to ourselves that if we were successful that every kid would think of our song when they go to wash their hands and will sing this song. So everyone one in a while we hit a topic and we are aiming for something bigger.
MG: In the mobile world, tell us about the recent “Doc McStuffins: Time For Your Check Up!” app?
CN: We spent a lot of time working with the app and tried to find a way to do something that is very unique to
the show. It would have been very easy to do an app with a game where Stuffy had to bang into things but we
really pushed the team we worked with to capitalize on what is different and great about the show. You can
actually use the app as a x-ray machine and a magnifying glass in order to do a check-up of your toys. It is
really different and not your typical app, which I think is really cool.
MG: Are you taken by the success of the show after just one season?
CN: It is pretty mind blowing I have to say. This was an original idea of mine influenced by my son who has asthma. I was setting out to do something personal for him and to see it take off like this is just totally astounding. I recently read some numbers that we were in 190 countries with 16 different languages and over 100 million unique viewers. I find that shocking. I just took a trip to Europe and there was “Doc McStuffins”merchandise on the shelves. I thought how is this possible, since it started as an idea I hope in the shower five years ago [laughs].
MG: What can we expect the upcoming second season of “Doc McStuffins” this Fall?
CN: I think it is just going to be a further diving into this world. We are exploring a bunch of medical topics that we didn’t get to in season one. It is a challenge to tell these stories in a toy-centric point of view. There was a couple of big obvious things that we didn’t do in season one, like wearing a helmet. So we are getting some of those episodes in. We are spending more time we our beloved group of core characters. There is some really wonderful and emotional stories with Lammie and Hallie. It’s suprising to think that we have only had one season on the air so far. Animation just takes a very long time. We have been very busy working on season two. I know people are dying for us to get season two out but for no lack of effort. It just takes that long to get a new season out there. We are closing in on that time and it is going to be very exciting to get the new world of the clinic out there.