Adult Swim continues to churn out a host of shows unlike anything you can find anywhere else. A true home for the weird, strange, and (traditionally) noncommercial, it is a network like no other. Titan Maximum is one of Adult Swim’s newer shows, a creation of Tom Root and Matthew Senreich- both instrumental members of the Robot Chicken team. Titan Maximum is their brainchild, a show about a group of not-so-bright young people given license to resurrect the defunct Titan Force, a long with its powerful mech robot, to help save the solar system against a new threat. There is a monkey. This is very important to note.
I was able to have a quick chat with the two gentleman behind the show, which you can read below. If you’re a fan of Titan Maximum, or feel interested in checking it out, try your luck in the Titan Maximum Contest
we’re running along with Adult Swim.
You’re both a big part of Robot Chicken, how did working on that show play into the genesis of Titan Maximum?
Tom: Yeah, Robot Chicken continues on and we’re still part of Robot Chicken, and then we thought we would try and jump into a different kind of show, and we settled on– If we were gonna do a second show, we wanted it to have a big robot, and we wanted it to have a monkey, and that’s sort of the genesis of the entire project.
Those are admirable goals going into a new show, for sure.
T: So for the most part our first show that started us out was Robot Chicken, we started out on that back in the day. We had a little down time between the two, and this is a project we’ve been thinking about for a long time, and we kinda goofed around with Adult Swim, and they seem really interested. We just took up the chance.
What I’ve always loved about Robot Chicken was the format that allowed for a 3 second joke just as easily as a 5 minute sketch, where as this show seems more linear, and traditionally structured…
T: The difference between the two is that Robot Chicken is a sketch comedy show like Saturday Night Live, and Titan is more of a linear story in the vein of 30 Rock or any sort of comedy with recurring characters and a theme that carries over the course of episodes.
M: One of the things that excited us after doing 4 seasons and 80 episodes of Robot Chicken was finally developing some recurring characters, were we could throw stories at them and watch them evolve over time.
So the new format was more a relief than a challenge?
M: Yeah, it was a big relief to start writing a new episode and actually knowing what characters would be in it.
In terms of the actual technical production of the show, does your crew overlap with Robot Chicken, or is it all new animators…
T: For the most part it’s the same team that does Robot Chicken, and it’s the home team in that sense, you know. All of our designers, and puppet builders, and set builders, and animators are pretty much the same people. We did reach out to some guys in the comic book world, like Jeff Matsuda, and Todd Knox, who were instrumental in designing the look of the show. But pretty much everyone else came from the world of Robot Chicken, that we’d already worked with.
Where are you guys based, and where is the animation done? You’re not in Atlanta…?
T: No, all of the animation is done in our studio here in Los Angeles. We have everything, we have 15 stages that are right downstairs from us and we can walk down and watch our animators do about 8 to 10 seconds a day. Which is team building, it’s great, were all very hands on. We get to play with toys all day, which is always a really nice thing.
There’s seems to be some element of parody or even satire aimed at “big robot” shows. Is that a big part of the show, is there a main target?
T: I don’t even know that were taking on big robot shows. We kind of used that as a jumping off point, but once we established our characters –who are sort of these aggressively stupid young people, who have way too much power– it became more a show about watching them screwing up in fun and interesting ways, than specifically making any sort of comment on boys action shows of the past or anything like that.
How much of Titan do you have envisioned, how far out do your concepts go?
T: When we pitched the show, our Bible had about five seasons worth of stuff planned out, so we know the direction we want to take this cast and these stories, it’s just about finding time to do it.
So these are 15 minute episodes, do feel like Titan Maximum could sustain longer format shows or specials like you’re doing with Robot Chicken?
Matt: Yeah, I kinda want to do movies! I’d like to do like a theatrical release every year.
Tom: Maybe we can get to that point like Futurama where we can do direct-to-dvd specials.
Matt: Yeah, we do the kind of show where it could easily expand to fill more time just by the nature of it. It’s got action, and there’s plenty we could get into.
How long had you been sitting on the idea before you were able to pitch it?
Tom: It’s sort of come to us in stages over the years- like we always want to do a show with a monkey in it, and then we sort of little-by-little filled it out. When it seemed like we were gonna get a real chance of doing a new show, then we were suddenly scrambling to figure out exactly what it was. The genesis of this thing has been many many years.
What’s the state of Robot Chicken?
T: We’re in production right now on the fifth season, we’re just in pre-production on the new Star Wars special as well. I don’t know if they’ve announced when we’re debuting yet, but they’ve been talking about the Star Wars special to launch our season in September, and then we’ll go out with 20 more episodes.
What’s the structure of the Star Wars special?
T: Hour long special.
M: We’ve done two specials and each one has gotten longer, so now we’re at an hour.
If you have the time or opportunity, do you have ideas for more shows, animated or not..?
T: Well, we’re currently working on a Fox pilot called Mount Pleasant, an animated pilot with Fox, that’s rolling progressively. While Seth and I our working, consulting with the new Star Wars TV show, that they’re working on up at Lucasfilm.
What’s the format of the Fox pilot?
Tom: 2D Animation- Rough Draft Studios is doing it.
Matt: 30 minute, prime-time cel animation.
T: We don’t like to sleep, we like to work constantly.
Describe your working relationship a little bit. What kind of give and take is there?
Matt: Tom and I have been working together since probably 1997, we both worked at a magazine together, ToyFair magazine. We have sort of a shorthand with each other, different aspects we can each do- Tom will take point with all the fun writing stuff, I like to edit more. We both play with voice recording, we’re all over the map. And whenever one of us isn’t here we trust in the other to take care of it.
Adult Swim’s has created a real playground for creators with off-beat ideas or off-the-wall aesthetics. Have you found it freeing to work with them?
Tom: People at Adult Swim are weirder than you could ever imagine. It’s been nice, they have a like-minded sensibility and they let you sink or swim, no pun intended, on your own. They encourage creativity and the people we work with are great. They give suggestions more than notes, and the suggestions are usually right. We love working with them and we’ve yet to find another working relationship with other people like that, because its like working with friends.
Matt: It’s sort of a match made in heaven, and I’m not sure a show like Robot Chicken would have ever gotten off the ground with another network.
What’s the future of Titan Maximum look like?
T: Our intention is to do more episodes, but were so focused right now on doing Robot Chicken season five, and the Robot Chicken Star Wars 3 special that… Hopefully well come back to it, it’s a real big passion project of ours, but it’s about finding time.
M: The response has been really good, and we’ve seen a lot of love from people that got into the show. So we’re excited about coming back to it at some point.
Thanks to Matt and Tom, as well as Daniella Apfel and Adult Swim.