Acceptance of others is a common theme in family programming, but The Stanley Dynamic certainly breaks new ground in the way it’s done. Debuting Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on YTV, the live action series boasts a two-dimensional star: Luke Stanley, an animated 14-year-old who interacts with his three-dimensional family and world.
“This is a gentle nod to inclusion, diversity and acceptance,” says Michael Souther, co-founder of Amaze Film + Television, the show’s production company. “No one bats an eye at Luke. He is one of the family, he’s at school, he has crushes, but he’s different. And no one focuses on his difference.” At least, not in a negative way. There are plenty of positives to having an animated kid around: his twin brother, Larry (Charles Vandervaart, Murdoch Mysteries), appreciates the fact his sibling can stretch out his arms to reach the cookie jar on a faraway shelf.
Amaze is most recently known for producing four seasons of the ribald, adult comedy Call Me Fitz. Souther says he was interested in creating a family show that was different from everything already in the genre. They quickly settled on a new approach, combining animation with live action in a multi-camera series. With co-creator Ken Cuperus (Mr. Young) on board, Souther says the 26-episode first season is consistently entertaining.
It hasn’t been easy from a production standpoint. Taylor Abrahamse (Beyblade: Metal Fusion), who voices Luke, rehearsed and did initial takes with his TV family—cartoonist dad, Lane, (Michael Barbuto, Banner 4th of July), who chronicles the family’s adventures in his online comic strip, “The Stanley Dynamic”; mom Lisa (Kate Hewlett (Remedy); Larry; and bug-obsessed, genius sister Lori (Madison Ferguson)—before stepping off-stage during real takes. The next process involved inserting Luke’s action into scenes—in Thursday’s debut he squishes himself into a high school locker and is squeezed in a group hug—a time-consuming gig that is keeping Cuperus busy long after cameras stopped rolling.
The result is astounding: Luke has shadows behind him, makes eye contact with his co-stars and fits seamlessly into the world around him. Just like he’s supposed to.
The Stanley Dynamic airs Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on YTV.