‘Skylanders Academy’ Creator Eric Rogers on Season 2 and What Makes Spyro a Hero

     September 12, 2017

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We just announced the Season 2 premiere date for Activision Blizzard Studios’ Skylanders Academy on Netflix, but now fans get a chance to find out what’s in store this season thanks to insight from the show’s creator, Eric Rogers. With the Season 2 premiere just a few short weeks away, you still have time to catch up with Season 1 on Netflix now. The story tells the tale of Spyro the Dragon (Justin Long), Eruptor (Jonathan Banks), Stealth Elf (Ashley Tisdale), Jet-Vac (Jonny Rees) and Pop Fizz (Bobcat Goldthwait) under the tutelage of Master Eon (Chris Diamantopoulos) as they attempt to defend the Skylands from evil.

In this interview, Rogers reveals what he thinks makes Spyro a hero and how his journey will shape him this season. He also confirmed not only the return of the show’s fantastic core cast but newcomers as well. (Could Rogers’ own voiced video game character make an appearance? You’ll have to read on to find out!) We also talked about how the video game adaptation came about, tailoring it for the target audience and for Netflix’s vision, and more. Check it out below!

Some spoilers may follow for folks who aren’t caught up with Season 1.

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Image via Netflix

First of all, now that the official announcement for the Season 2 release date is out there, here’s how Rogers reacted to that news:

Eric Rogers: It feels awesome. It’s been a long time coming. Working on a CG show like this, it takes a long time from inception to the final produced form of a show. Our staff probably started working on the first episode of this season back in June of 2016. I’ve been champing at the bit to give [fans] something, so it’s exciting that the time to premiere the show is finally upon us.

The fans have been a big part of the show’s success. Rogers was quick to praise their enthusiasm and feedback: 

Rogers: You hope for the best with anything that you create, but the positive feedback we’ve received throughout the year has just been so nice. The support for future seasons and the hunger to see these new seasons of the show, it’s been really cool. It’s gratifying to know we did something right and this is connecting to people in the way that we hoped it would.

And not just kids. I know for a fact that some of the fans are adults, not only adults who have this love and appreciation for the Skylanders games, but also the parents of kids saying, “Thanks for making a show that I can watch with my kids and that my kids can watch, and that has themes that are meaningful.” We don’t try to scar the kids too much with our humor or try to be too edgy with it … even though I try to get away with stuff every now and then.

It’s been great. It’s a real pleasure to be able to engage with fans. It’s an amazing new world we’re in where you can create something and then instantly have somebody go, “Hey, I like what you did!” It’s super cool.

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Image via Activision Blizzard Studios, Netflix

With experience writing for older-skewing series like Futurama and Brickleberry, I was curious to see how Rogers and his writing team shifted their tone for a younger audience: 

Rogers: It was an adjustment. My first approach with the show as a bit edgier; it leaned more Futurama, for sure. We learned pretty quickly that Netflix wasn’t interested in being involved. At that moment, we realized if Netflix is going to be our distributor, they’re probably going to want to do a show that’s aimed toward a younger audience. They really had become a player in the kids’ animation space at that time. So we had to dial it back. We didn’t want to take it so far back with the humor that … if an older sibling or parent was watching the show, they could get a couple of the jokes maybe that the kids wouldn’t. We wanted to keep some of that alive in every episode throughout the series. We also realized we shouldn’t take it too far.

It was an adjustment, but it wasn’t too tough. I’ve been writing in this space, doing freelance stuff off and on between Futurama and Skylanders so I had a feel with shows like Wander Over Yonder and Teen Titans Go! like, this is a kind of younger type of writing we need to be doing. When it was apparent that that was the type of show we needed to do, it was like, “Okay, we can wrap our minds around this and do this.” And we did; it turned out really well.

Here’s how Rogers came to be involved with Skylanders Academy in the first place:  

Rogers: I was working on another show for another studio and my agent called me saying, “Start researching,” because I had a meeting with Activision Blizzard Studios for Skylanders. I was like, “Oh, okay. Great!” I went in to meet with Nick van Dyk and Sander Schwartz who were overseeing the show solely at the time. They told me what they were planning on doing and the characters that they wanted to use for the series and that they wanted some writers’ takes on what the show could be.

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Image via Netflix

I went away from that meeting and took a couple weeks to think about my approach of the show, and then I came back. I had another meeting with Nick and Sander and said, “Here’s where I think the heart of the show is.” I had the five main figures in my bag. I took them all out and set them on the table and said, “Here’s where I think Spyro’s going in this show and what his journey is and why I think he’s interesting. And here’s what I think Eruptor’s awesome. And this is why Jet-Vac is going to be somebody we love. And of course this is what Stealth Elf is all about.” I ran down the line with the five main characters, and then I talked a bit about Eon and Kaos, which are the NPCs. I laid out a little bit of backstory and mythology that connected everybody together, and that was what sealed the deal. About a month later, we were breaking the pilot out.

Television