Where did the idea for the new Disney Channel animated series "Kim Possible" originate? Well, in the elevator, of course.
Walt Disney TV animators Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley were asked to come up with a series for the cable channel. Their "marching orders," according to McCorkle, were to come up with a show that would appeal to the channel's "tween" audience (kids ages 9-14) that "would not alienate kids but is a little older than what we would typically do over at" Disney's TV animation division.
Shortly thereafter, McCorkle and Schooley went out to get lunch, returned to their offices and got in the elevator.
"I just looked at him and I said, 'Kim Possible' — she can do anything," McCorkle told TV critics.
"And I said, 'Her partner is Ron Stoppable — he can't do anything," Schooley added.
"And the show was practically done," McCorkle said.
Well, not quite, but that is the basic outline for "Kim Possible," the animated series that premieres Friday at 7:30 p.m. on the Disney Channel. Kim is a typical teenager who, when she isn't dealing with typical high-school problems, is saving the world from evil supervillains. Ron is her best friend, a guy who really can't seem to do anything right.
Kim is sort of a teenage Powerpuff Girl; Ron her befuddled sidekick.
"And then we added Rufus the Naked Mole-rat and Wade the 10-year-old super genius who runs (Kim's) Web site and it sort of went from there," McCorkle said. "But that basic foundation is the heroine who is incredibly competent in the action world but challenged in the real world by all the things we all have trouble with — embarrassment, school work, expectations of mom and dad, all that normal stuff. And then Ron would be challenged everywhere. He would be overwhelmed in high school.
"So, really, that thing of the action lead and the comic sidekick (clicked), and from there the show just took off like a rocket. I mean, it really was one of the easiest shows to develop that we ever worked on.
And the end result is an entertaining show that should indeed appeal to tweens, younger kids and even their parents. "Kim Possible" plays with the superhero format in a way that doesn't take itself too seriously but doesn't play down to the viewers.
"What we try to do is create a fun show," McCorkle said. "It's a fun show to watch. That is the engine that needs to drive any project."
And it's driven this one into the winner's circle.
KIM'S ALTER EGO: Christy Carlson Romano, who provides the voice of Kim Possible, is a familiar face to regular Disney Channel viewers — she stars as Ren in the DC hit "Even Stevens." And she can relate to her animated character.
"Kim and I aren't too far apart," she said. "I'm 17 years old. And she and I are both dealing with teenage issues."
Romano, at least, doesn't have to deal with supervillains trying to destroy the Earth.
"No, not supervillains," she said with a laugh. "Other scary things, but the teenage issues for Kim come harder than fighting the supervillains. For me, it's a battle of balancing school and work on 'Even Stevens.' "
Her's is not the only voice Disney Channel viewers will recognize in "Kim Possible." "Boy Meets World" alums Will Friedle (Ron) and Rider Strong (Brick) are both featured, as are Tahj Mowry ("Smart Guy") as Wade; Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart on "The Simpsons") as Rufus; Jean Smart ("Designing Women") as Mom and Gary Cole (Mike in the "Brady Bunch" movies) as Dad.
"The cast really brought those characters to life," McCorkle said.