TRANSCRIPT: Mar 28 Let’s Voltron Episode 175 Interview: VLD Exec Producers Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery with Donya Abramo

The full transcript of the podcast Let’s Voltron! episode 175 with Donya Abramo as a guest interviewing JDS and LM below the cut. Feel free to use this for all your citation and referential needs.

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Vrepit Sa!

[Intro music]

MM: Welcome Voltron fans! This is Marc Morrell, your host for Let’s Voltron! the official Voltron podcast. We’re excited because we have a great interview today. We haven’t talked to these people since the season came out, since season 8, so, we’re excited. I have to bring on my cohost Greg Tyler, welcome Greg.

GT: Hello, Marc Morrell. Hello listeners and fellow Voltron fans across the universe. This is a really, really fun podcast because we have some really awesome guests.

MM: And I also have another guest that I wanna bring on. So, all the way from the other side of the pond, in the UK, welcome Donya Abramo. Donya, welcome.

DA: Hi! It’s really nice to be back again.

GT: Awesome, it’s great to have you back with us again. How are things going with Hypable?

DA: Really good! Yeah, picking up a couple new shows. So since Voltron went off the air, I’ve picked up a few more animated shows, so I’m now covering She-Ra, The Dragon Prince, and I’m also doing my usual everything Marvel. Literally everything Marvel, which, considering there are three movies now in quick succession that’s keeping me busy.

GT: No doubt.

MM: Yeah, Marvel has a pretty heavy spring coming up, don’t they?

DA: Oh, just a little bit, yeah.

[laughter]

MM: Well, it’s exciting to have you on, and I’m-I’m really thankful that you were able to do this even though it’s really strange time of the morning for you right now.

DA: Yeah, it’s actually really interesting, ‘cuz usually this would be 2 a.m. for me, but because you guys have saved daylight already, it’s actually 1 a.m.

MM: That’s awesome that we timed that just perfectly.

DA: Yeah.

GT: That’s right. Who do we have to thank for that? Ben Franklin? I think he knew you were going to be on this podcast hundreds of years later.

MM: Alright, so why don’t we bring on our very special guests, what do you say?

GT: Let’s do it.

MM: Alright. Coming all the way from California–from the other direction–we have the showrunners of Voltron: Legendary Defender Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery. Welcome guys.

LM: Thanks.

JDS: Hey guys, thanks for having us.

MM: [laughter] So great to have you guys on again.

GT: Yes, welcome back.

LM: Yeah, well, we’re glad to be back now that Voltron’s all wrapped and we can kinda talk about it on the whole. No more of this, uh, kinda shifty “we can’t tell ya” stuff.

JDS: [faintly] Right.

MM: That’s right.

GT: Yeah, you were last on when we recorded our fifth anniversary podcast, which was released on the season 8 drop day, so you know, obviously we couldn’t do spoilers during that recording, so now we can, uh, spoil in reverse.

[laughter]

LM: There you go.

MM: And we have another person on with us, so Donya you’re able to ask any questions any times you want. Is that okay?

DA: Yep. [laughter] That would be fine.

GT: Would you like that opportunity, Donya? [laughter]

DA: I don’t know, might be nice.

[laughter]

LM: I think Donya wants to take a nap.

[laughter]

GT: Yeah, so we started recording at 9 p.m. Eastern, it’s 6 p.m. Eastern in LA, and 1 a.m. in the UK, right?

DA: Yep.

GT: Alright, so we got a three-year time-jump in there, just like on Voltron. [others laugh] Er, not quite three years, just a little shy.

JDS: Yeah.

MM: These are decaphoebs.

GT: There you go.

JDS: That’s right.

GT: So, uh, real quick before we dive into the meat and potatoes of this, all those Altean time units – did you guys just know them off the top of your heads, or did you have to look those up all the time?

JDS: Oh–

LM: Oh, yeah, I had no idea at any point. I think those were all made up by the writers. All I ever knew was “ticks” and then everything after that, I was like, “Um…” I would just kinda have to go to the writers and be like, “Which one is a week? Which one is a month?” I eventually got “decaphoeb” which is a year, right?

GT: Yep.

LM: And then we assumed “phoeb” was kind of, like, generally a month.

GT: Right.

JDS: Right, “phoeb” was-was one-one quadrant of the year.

LM: Yeah, and they had a whole thing where it was like “movement”, which, I don’t even know if that was just a day or week–

MM: It’s like a week.

LM: Okay–

JDS: Wow, okay, see you guys definitely know better than we do because we were-

LM: Yeah.

JDS: “Movement” means something totally different to me, it’s like-like a bowel movement.

LM: Bathroom talk, right there.

[laughter]

LM: But yeah, I honestly, I don’t know. What was a day? Do you guys know?

MM: “Day” was a “quintant”.

LM: Alright, yeah! That’s right.

JDS: That’s right, a quintant.

LM: All these Coran lines are popping back into my head.

JDS: Yeah.

GT: Yeah, I remember Lance saying he wasn’t born yesterquintant. [laughter]

JDS: That’s right.

LM: Awesome.

GT: Alright, so Voltron is over, the two of you have moved on to, uh, other projects. Is there anything you can say about what you’re working on right now?

JDS: Uh, not really.

LM: No.

JDS: Other than it’s very cool and fun and we’re-we’re–

LM: Yeah.

JDS: –you know, very excited.

LM: It’s just the lay of the land. It’s kinda how animation goes. You make a thing, then you move on to another thing, and you make a thing.

JDS: Yeah.

LM: But, uh, but yeah.

GT: We’re excited for the next things, whatever they are. [laughter]

LM: Awesome.

MM: So, in preparation for talking to you guys tonight, um, I had gone back and listened to a lot of our previous conversations and everything just to make sure that, uh, anything that we had gone over before, uh, if there was something that we wanted to recapture or re-talk about or something like that we could bring it up tonight. One thing that I remember from going over all of this, we had done an interview with Andrea Romano.

JDS: Mm.

LM: Mm-hm.

MM: And she told us a story about when you guys pitched her the idea of you guys joining for this show. So do you guys remember that-that time? And it was basically where she said, “Okay, pitch to me, you know, what it is that Voltron’s all about and what it is that you wanna do with it.”

LM: Oh, gosh.

JDS: Boy, I… Yeah.

LM: So long ago! You’re asking my memory to do things it does not usually do.

JDS: Yeah, I mean-I mean I think-I think it’s safe to assume that we were probably begging and groveling on some level just to get her on board because we knew how awesome Andrea is, so there was probably a bit of that.

LM: There may have been a little bit of, you know, delirium from some hard working late nights but, uh, but yeah I-I remember the day she came in, I remember we sat in a room and that’s literally all I remember.

MM: So you don’t remember what you told her about what Voltron really is?

LM: Did it involve robot lions?

JDS: Did it involve teamwork? And did it involve, you know, friendship? I’ll bet, Marc, I’ll bet you know.

[laughter]

GT: Well I don’t remember either, so.

MM: I do know that it was a bunch of young people that under, you know, unforeseen circumstances come together and find these robot lions that form Voltron and it’s this giant robot that is formed by these five robot mechs. And along the way they, you know, find out that they’re basically the defenders of the universe. And they have, you know, they have to work it out as a team, and they have to work together, and they have a lot of adventures where they have to go up against the bad guys.

LM: That sounds about right.

GT: That’s a great pitch, Marc, I think we should make a show based on that, what do you think?

[laughter]

MM: Yeah. Well, the thing about it is-is Andrea remembers saying to you guys, “How did this ever work? How did it ever become popular?”

LM: Yeah, I-I think that’s something that probably people would say about 90% of the stuff I watched as a kid. I mean, I grew up on some–like Thundercats–like, and they’re just human people and they look kinda cattish, and then one guy was in-in a cryotube that cracked and then he came out a man. Like, I don’t know, how did that work? We watched that stuff anyway.

GT: And don’t forget “Snyarf! Snyarf!”

LM: Yeah! So, I mean, you know, Care Bears, they’re just little colorful bears with pictures on their tummies and they shoot rainbows out of their tummies. Like, I’m down. I don’t know if everyone’s down, but I’m down. So yeah, I think it was just something that captured our imaginations as kids and stuck with us, and so when it came time to, you know, to-to have it redone through DreamWorks, we wanted to kind of channel our love for the property into something that would maybe be a little updated to what our tastes were more like today versus what our tastes were as children, if that makes sense.

MM: Okay. So at that time did you know it was a 78-episode contract?

JDS: Yes.

LM: Yes we did. That was probably one of our biggest lies. You know, sadly. We try not to lie too much, but I’ll tell you, I’m gonna blow-blow the whole industry up right now: if an animated show tells you they don’t know if they have a second season, they probably know they have a second season.

JDS: That’s right.

LM: There’s a really good chance they already made it, and you know, so, where we always have to tell that, like, “Well, we hope people watch it and if they like it, well, maybe. We’ll see!” But it’s such-it’s such a lie.

JDS: The way it works, you know, is we have to make these things so far in advance for them to even make air, uh, that-that second season is either picked up or-or in production or midway through production or… yeah.

LM: Yeah, and I think there’s always just like, uh, that desire to, you know, be able to break that news. I think for-for whoever handles that kind of PR/internet traffic side of things, like, we want to be able to announce the next season and they’re like, “Okay, that’s fine, whatever.” W-we’re just making the show.

GT: That raises an interesting question. Do you have to be–and I know this is gonna sound silly–but do you have to be trained when you join a new project? Or are you so accustomed to the way this stuff gets marketed that it’s second nature to you now?

LM: A little bit of both.

JDS: Yeah.

LM: I think, like, upfront, so, um, I-I’ve always been, I guess, a little more truthful than I should have sometimes in my earlier projects. I made a, uh, movie through Warner Brothers. It was called Batman/Superman: Apocalypse, but it was about Supergirl. And they didn’t call it Supergirl, they called it Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.

GT: Right.

LM: And so when people would ask, I would be like, “Yeah, they had to put a big boy name on it ‘cuz they didn’t think a girl movie would sell.” And then I would get my PR guy and say like, “Hey, hey Lauren, you’re not supposed to say that.” And so, uh, I had to kinda learn, you know, sometimes you need to be a little more positive? [laughter] But, you know, hey man, sometimes people need to hear the truth.

JDS: But I’d say also specifically to Voltron, like it was pretty un-unprecedented in terms of like, an animated series of its kind getting picked up for that many episodes right off the bat, so… I mean we always joked that it was, like, the worst-kept secret ‘cuz I think Playmates at some point had, like, toy fair, like, put up a thing saying “78 episodes guaranteed!” and I think Tyler maybe said it because he hadn’t been told not to say it on some radio pod–some radio show. So it was like the worst-kept secret but it was also pretty interesting ‘cuz we were like, like one of the only shows that I know of that got picked up for that many episodes–

GT: That is amazing.

LM: Yeah.

JDS: –right off the bat.

MM: So, did they want you to write a story that only had a 78-episode arc, or did they tell you “there’s always an opportunity if this gets really big that we could have more”?

LM: I think–I don’t know–like at the time we were told 78 episodes, and that was it. And I think, like, maybe there–er, in our minds–like, if the thing was just, like, gangbusters, then there was a possibility for more, but I think what they actually learned over the process of making a 78-episode thing is that 78 episodes is a whole lot of a thing.

MM: Right.

GT: Oh yeah.

LM: And then, the-they’d actually made close to that of some other shows and realized that they really don’t need that many episodes. No, not every show has a serialized story and can maybe go that far, but for us, yeah. I think-I think ultimately when they started to kinda realize those numbers, it was like, “Alright, 78 episodes, that’s good enough.” And we were always planning for the 78 anyway, so uh, like honestly if they’d given us more we would’ve been like, “Uh… What’re we gonna do now?”

JDS: It’s funny, you know, we-we sort of, like, had this-this, you know, loose structure of sort of, kind of, where this story could go, but at some point you know, the show and the characters, they just kinda take on lives of their own to some extent and you-you zig where you thought you were gonna zag, a-and you know, the thing kinda goes where it needs to, so it’s like you… I remember we were, sort of, excited about the fact that like, hey we can like–and we did to some extent set some things up that could pay off later, but there was other stuff that we just-it was just kind of going and we were just on this-this production train, you know? We were like, “Oh wow, this-this thing is happening.”

MM: So, had Tim Hedrick, at the beginning, had he written out anything like a story bible that would kinda say “this is what’s gonna happen at the beginning”, “this is, like, a hazy middle area”, and then “maybe this is the end”?

JDS: No, our bible was about as loose as you’ll find. It was basically just to kinda pitch the show in its concept. So there was no… we would talk in meetings about maybe where we thought the characters’ arc would go.

LM: Yeah, I mean we had character arcs that we ended up, you know, having to completely adjust through–during the creation of the show because of, you know, whatever note here or there. So, like, we would have, like, some characters we thought we knew where they were going to end up that didn’t happen, and some characters we didn’t really know at all and then that just kind of solidified as it went through.

JDS: Right.

LM: And then, uh, a-and I’ll say, we really didn’t know–I’d say the biggest things we knew was we wanted Zarkon, kind of, for the first arc, and Lotor for the second arc, we didn’t really know, like, what we wanted for the third arc yet.

JDS: Right. That sort of started to present itself later.

LM: Like, and we had some, like, weird ideas that, like, never felt really personal, and then we kinda realized Honvera/Haggar was kinda the most–you know, the character who’d been with us the whole time. And uh, it was–and I was happy ‘cuz, you know, I like it when female characters can be involved in good ways and bad ways.

JDS: Yeah.

MM: Did you ever feel like you needed to, you know, give a certain complexity to those villains with always the chance that they could be somehow redeemed near the end?

JDS: Uh, I mean, I think we just like the idea of complexity in the villains, like, just-just generally and that came from, uh, Avatar but I think solidified on Korra. Uh, you know, when you look at a character like Amon or you look at a character like Zaheer, like, there were aspects of those characters that I totally agreed with.

LM: Mm-hm. Yeah, we also liked the idea not every, like, villain gets to be fully redeemed. Like, maybe there are things that are a little too bad to come back from. I think because we had worked on Avatar and Zuko was such a huge thing and he was such an awesome character, we didn’t want to immediately make everyone Zuko who was like yeah, and ultimately everyone becomes a good guy in the end.

JDS: Right.

[Hosts make noises of agreement.]

LM: So we wanted to, uh, to just have that door open.

JDS: But we also just didn’t want to do the mustachioed villain that’s just, like, a villain for villain’s sake so it was, we were playing this middle ground.

LM: Yeah, where you have characters who are doing bad things and you can kinda explain how they would get to that point.

JDS: Right.

LM: And ‘cuz that’s just, honestly that’s just a fascinating thing for me. Like I enjoy kinda studying what events would have to happen to get this character who you think would never do this thing, what would have to happen to push them to do that thing. That’s just something that I find incredibly interesting and love exploring, but uh, you know, hey man, shit gets crazy.

JDS: It does get crazy.

[Hosts laugh]

DA: Was there, um, was there a character who you were absolutely certain that their story was going to turn out a specific way that just flipped and went the, like, in the complete opposite direction to what you were expecting in the course of just figuring out the story?

JDS: I mean, you know, I-I think the big one for us was-was Shiro. You know, we’ve sort of talked about this publicly, we were orig–the original creation of Shiro was to set Keith up as the leader.

LM: I mean he was essentially our Sven. You know, we just changed his name from Sven to the original.

JDS: But we were going to keep him around a little longer than Sven lasted.

LM: Yeah, that was our whole thing was, like, “Okay, we still want to kinda do that Voltron thing where this character leaves the show, but we don’t wanna make–we don’t want him to feel disposable, we want him to feel like a super important character.” And then that kinda ended up kicking us in the butt because then the execs were like, “This is a super important character! You can’t, you can’t–”

MM: Well he became Space Dad.

LM: And it’s–and you know it’s–they were really just kinda channeling, I think, the love that they ultimately knew the fans would have for that character because he ended up being such a huge fan-favorite and, you know, we really can just thank the writers for that because they made sure that he did not feel, uh, you know, expendable.

JDS: Like, like, sort of expendable and–and also, like, you know, on one hand he fills a potentially boring space, which is, like, yeah, the leader/soldier/hero guy, and they very much made him not that, and, you know, that’s I think a perfect example of like, uh, a story point that just evolved on its own and sort of took a direction that we couldn’t have foreseen but we were-we were ultimately super happy with.

LM: Yeah.

MM: With knowing that Shiro was going to be sticking with you throughout the-the rest of the show, did you ever think of going back and telling us what his childhood was like, or who his parents were, or anything like that? He was one of the few characters who we really didn’t get that kind of a backstory on.

JDS: You know, we had originally a flashback pitch, uh, that showed Shiro I think with his family at a young age. It just, it became not as important to tell as some of the other aspects of his life, but also we had a lot of other familial backstories with the other characters that we wanted to cover.

LM: Yeah, and–I think, yeah, some of Shiro’s backstory just ultimately felt a little bit repetitive. I’m sure we could’ve, like, looked into it more and tried to find a way to make it stand out from the other characters, but ultimately when you’re, you know, moving at breakneck pace and trying to make these stories just happen, you know. I wish we would’ve had more time to sit there and-and really make every part of every character figured out 100%.

JDS: Yeah.

LM: But, when you’re moving so fast and you’re, “Okay, we have this, it feels like it’s stepping on the space for this other character, okay get rid of it.” Move forward. And that’s–that’s just kinda how these-these shows happen.

JDS: And it’s-it’s the same way that we, you know, we would sort of run in. With this many characters in a show, we’d often run into the thing where it’d be like, season 2, the big, sort of, the loudest aspect from the fandom would be like, “Oh, this character isn’t getting enough screentime.” And it’d be like, “Okay, we got, you know, this many episodes, we got this many characters, we’ll get to ‘em, but there’s only a certain amount of time.” And that’s all while juggling all the production craziness of, like, having three or four shows in production at a time.

MM: Yeah, I remember asking you at the end of season 6, uh, where was Matt? [laughter]

JDS: Yeah.

LM: Yeah. Well, Matt, actually, was–he started to become a little bit of a casualty of the availability of his voice actor because, uh, Blake was so hard to get into the studio, we literally found ourselves just writing him out of episodes.

JDS: Yeah.

LM: Like, and-and it was sad because I-I was really excited that we’d gotten Blake, um, and I was a really big fan of him from Workaholics, but he’s busy. He’s a busy actor, and so I think I had always wanted Matt to be a little more involved, but hey when you can’t get the actor in you just, you know. It–I guess you either have to get a sound-alike and we never really liked having to do that because it never sounded alike.

JDS: Right.

[laughter]

LM: So, uh, so yeah, he kinda–we ended up kinda crutching a ton on Sam, which I think was not at all expected.

JDS: Right.

LM: Because Sam was always kind of–his head was definitely on the chopping block, of like, “Hey, do we wanna give Pidge some sort of, like, she had a success with Matt, do we wanna give her, like, a failure with Sam?”

GT: Right.

LM: And then, like, I had no clue how-how integral he would become to that final Earth season, so it’s–I guess it’s good that we didn’t just axe him.

JDS: And it-it’s tough, like, it’s-it’s, you know, we call it, like, stunt-casting sometimes, but that’s-that’s the risk you run with, you know, hiring actors that voice-acting is not their, like, their main profession–

LM: Like their main bread and butter.

JDS: Yeah, like that’s–

GT: Like Norman Reedus.

MM: Steven, like Steven Yeun.

LM: Yeah. And Steven, he really bent over backwards to make himself available for us, but even-even with him we ran into a couple episodes, like, I think-I think we even, we’ve talked about it there was one episode, the game show episode!

[Hosts make sounds of understanding]

LM: Well you’ll notice in the beginning Keith sounds really groggy for no reason, and we literally just couldn’t get Steven in to re-read that line. It was like, “Alright! Well, this is going through.”

MM: “He’s just groggy.”

LM: “That’s production! Sorry.” It’s, you know. But hey man, sometimes that’s the fun of it. You can watch that episode and be like, “Oh, that’s one of the problems with making a TV show on a fast schedule.”

JDS: Right right right.

GT: So one of the things–and this is of very minor importance by comparison to character arcs–but one of the things that I noticed over a lot of Voltronmerchandise: the tie-in books, uh, the toys, was all this stuff about each Paladin being a guardian spirit of this or that or what in the other, and the lions were labeled that way, too. What happened with that stuff?

JDS: This is where our, like, you know, our-our producing minds and our consumer/product, sort of, minds, uh, uh–

LM: Diverge.

JDS: Yeah. Where we sort of, like, grew apart. We sort of went divergent from each other. And, you know, early on I think that was a pitch that we got when we had, like, meetings and I think had we, I don’t even know how to say this–

LM: Yeah, it was–it was something that was not really in our original pitch–

JDS: It was–it was pitched to us from, like, the consumer/product standpoint, like, “Hey, this would be a good thing to latch onto.” And it just wasn’t really something that we were–

LM: Yeah, I think there were symbols that they really liked that they wanted to use in some of the consumer products, and like we’re all for it–

GT: Yeah, like different lion logos or whatever?

LM: –but we-we couldn’t really, like, it wasn’t inherent in our story and we struggled to find a way to work it in, and ultimately I think we just kind of came–we knew, like, we had voiced our opinions on the symbols. We weren’t super fond of the design, we’d done some designs to fix ‘em, and they had, kind of, just, I guess–

JDS: They had already moved along with their designs and so it was just–

LM: –and so we didn’t really want to work them into the show, just ‘cuz we didn’t feel like they could adhere to the aesthetic we’d created. And so we’re just like, “I’m sorry, it’s gonna have to be, like, a weird offshoot point”. So, you know. But it’s a lesson to learn that, uh, I wish we had control over everything in the show, but we don’t, and there’s other offshoots with the consumer products, and-and they kind of work in their own little bubble and we work in ours, and we try to meet up to–as best we can–to make things work.

JDS: But it doesn’t always work.

LM: Yeah, I mean we worked the lion upgrades in, like, that was asked specifically for the toys, and we found a way to, you know, get those into the show and make them feel kinda natural. But we couldn’t do it with everything.

GT: Right.

MM: There was a 3D-VR experience called Voltron VR Chronicles

JDS: Yeah.

MM: –and that first episode that came out was called “Seeds of Corruption”. It was a Lance-focused episode, and they had said there would be more episodes coming. Did you ever hear what happened to that?

JDS: I think, yeah we were-we were, like, sorta peripherally involved, uh…

LM: I mean, yeah, they showed it to us along the way, and it was really cool to see it take form. I-I just don’t, I don’t know, I know that there were plans, they had like a story arced out.

JDS: Yeah, I think ultimately, a lot of it just comes down to if that-that was like a-a rip-roaring success, you would have absolutely seen more, but I think maybe,I don’t know, maybe-maybe there just wasn’t support because it didn’t-it didn’t get the numbers that they needed.

LM: Yeah, I don’t know how many Voltron fans have, like, the full VR/PS–

MM: Right.

LM: –VR setup. So it’s kinda–sadly I think it’s kind of a niche sale and I think when you’re marketing to something that’s-that’s not really, like, globally, massively accepted yet, maybe it’s a little harder to really get a big return on your investment.

JDS: I’d say V–like, I’d like to know exactly, sort of, on a-on a-on a bigger scale–like, VR in general. I’m excited about it still from, like, an artistic perspective, but I still haven’t quite seen, you know, the promise of-of all the things that were, like, supposed to be happening right now.

GT: Yeah, what’s the killer app, right?

JDS: Yeah, and I’m-I’m going back all the way to Lawnmower Man, guys, come on.

GT: Yeah.

JDS: Got our rig, while we’re spinnin’ around.

MM: What we need is a place called The Oasis like in Ready Player One, where we’re all connected and we can watch Voltron episodes completely in 360 degree immersion.

JDS: One day.

LM: There you go.

[laughter]

GT: Yeah, I’ve often wondered how that’d even work. To have full 360 degree immersion, how do you make sure you’re looking where you need to look as the story unfolds around you?

JDS: Right. That’s the big question.

MM: They cue you to look in certain directions to make sure that you’re following along with the story, but it also gives it an opportunity, if you are-are really interested in looking in a different direction, then they might have alternative options like Choose Your Adventure type things.

GT: Yeah, that’d be really tough to write in a-in a effective way, I guess–

MM: Right.

GT: –as a story. But getting back to-to-to what you talked about with the consumer products and all that good stuff, I mean, to a point it boils down to this Voltron not being creator-owned but rather a licensed property. And so I was wondering how would you–how might you compare and contrast Voltronwith licensed properties you’ve worked on in the past such as various DC characters, G.I. Joe, and-and whatever you might have in the hopper right now. How would you compare and contrast Voltron with those others?

JDS: Uh, I mean, well, it’s interesting, like, I think Voltron is unique in the sense that it’s still–I don’t even know if it’s, like, owned by World Events–but it’s still, they still very much have, like, a say in the creative direction of it so that’s-that’s one aspect that we found unique, uh, even when producing the show. But I think it’s also, it was this property that had kind of, you know–I know you guys have been carrying the torch–but kinda gone away for a while, right?

GT: Oh, absolutely.

JDS: So we were kind of coming up with a lot of this lore and this backstory on our own. We were obviously using stuff from, you know Go–Beast King and Voltron, but it was unique in that it was just gone. So I think it was off people’s radars for a while, whereas like the DC stuff that we worked on, like DC’s been around the whole time, you know? People kind of know what to expect, they know generally who the characters are, what their personalities and backstories are, so it was–it was unique in that, like, we were, like, kind of reintroducing this and in a sense, it absolutely isn’t creator-driven but I think we got, sort of, put into, like, a, uh, a creator position on it.

LM: Mm-hm. And we were thrilled to be able to do it. We were thrilled to be able to bring, like, our vision to this show and I mean, essentially it almost felt like we were kind of almost recreating it, like, in our own little way. Whereas a lot of the times when I worked on a lot of the DC stuff, like, you know, I was never recreating Superman, I was just telling a story in his world, you know, with that character. And there was always, like, a very specific set of rules as to what that character could and couldn’t do. We could never really break that mold. But with Voltron, we have a lot of freedom to remake these characters how we felt we wanted them to be for the story, so I mean that was really great. I personally never worked on something that, I think, was gonna have such a large, kinda, consumer products, um, push behind it. I had mostly worked–a lot of the DC stuff was just kind of–

MM: They were just stories, right?

LM: Yeah, they were stories, they were one-offs, they were–they kind of, they expected–they knew, like, they were going to go to the specific kind of comic book fan market and-and that was it. It was just kind of like, “Here’s one piece of art that’s out there, enjoy it or don’t enjoy it.” And then Voltron had so much more around it, the whole franchise and, like, how this was going to play out in other departments. It wasn’t really just us there to, kind of, make the decisions.

JDS: It was the first time we had been in so many meetings with so many other departments that were, like, pitching us their vision for Voltron, which, you know, sometimes it was like, “Okay, that’s kind of a neat concept,” and sometimes it was like–

LM: “We’re not doing that.”

JDS: “We’re very scared about what we’re seeing right now.” Like, how do we nicely tell these people we’re not gonna do it?

LM: I feel we’ve told the–I think we’ve told this story before of, like, how many times we got asked if Voltron could talk.

JDS: Yeah.

LM: Yeah, they just really wanted to make a little, a helmet that, you know, you talked in the helmet and then your voice came out and it was Voltron’s voice. And I’m like, “I’m sorry, he’s not–it’s a robot! It doesn’t talk!” But–

MM: You got him to talk in “The Voltron Show”.

JDS: Exactly.

LM: Yeah, that was our wink-wink.

JDS: That was the total nod to that moment.

LM: All just so they could sell Voltron helmets. Just kidding.

[laughter]

JDS: There was a lot–it was a lot–it was a lot of coordinating beyond, you know, beyond uh, a scale we had seen before. And we were coming off of Korra, which was literally just, like, “Make a story. There is nothing tied to this beyond a story.”

LM: Yeah. And it was cre–you know, Bryan and Mike’s creation and then they got to make their own artistic vision there. And so, yeah, going from that and then coming to Voltron where we very much had to, kind of, play game with the studio and we were, like, 100% understanding of that going into it. But yeah, it’s a different part of the industry and you just, you adjust, and it’s just part of your profession, your career, and as a professional you-you figure it out and you make it work.

JDS: Right.

GT: Okay.

MM: Did you guys have any sense for inclusion, in diversity, in representation, all that you kinda wanted to bring into the show even when you were starting out?

LM: Yeah.

JDS: I mean I think that was–the idea was to-to make the characters, you know–you know, the original Beast King obviously was a bunch of Japanese characters which was, you know, totally appropriate for its time and, uh, you know I probably think Sven was probably the bad version of trying to, like, give these characters divergent voices in the, uh, in Voltron.

LM: But yeah, I mean, we always knew that we wanted to feature, like, a diverse cast as much as we could. Yeah. For us, our story was always our story, and within that story we wanted to be able to feature as much diversity as possible.

JDS: We never made it, like, the focus. They were just characters that happened to be from different, different backgrounds, but, you know, the Earth that we had sort of conceptualized was kind of more of a united Earth where everything was blended anyway. So it wasn’t, you weren’t going to get, like, a ton of, like, accents or the sort of trademark, you know, things when shows are bringing in diverse characters. It was just like, “Yeah, that’s Lance! He’s Cuban. That’s Hunk.” You know what I mean?

LM: And a lot of those things we never even really mentioned in the show, they would maybe make a little reference to it, but I think people didn’t know Lance was Cuban until Jeremy went out and said it. And then people didn’t really know Hunk was Samoan until Tyler went out and said it. For us, it was just like, “These are our characters.” And we maybe had these ideas of who they were, but the show didn’t center around their ethnicity, the show centered around how they deal when they fight this war.

JDS: Right. It was more personality-centric than it was anything else.

DA: With that, because obviously it becomes very difficult in terms of, like, with diversity–especially in animation because it’s in its infancy almost in terms of branching out and also being able to represent different areas–was there ever a time where you thought you actually wanted to make it more explicit who they were and where they came from and their backgrounds to, sort of, just to make it more, kind of, like, obvious where they’d all come from? Or was it always just you were going to allow that-that breathing room, that space for people to kind of look at these characters and maybe take a piece of them to sort of represent themselves? Like was there more of, like, an openness that you wanted to take with that diversity or was there ever, like, specifically in your head that you wanted to try and say more about it but the story just didn’t allow?

JDS: Yeah, I mean, well, there was little cues, right? So there was, like, an episode where Lance sort of said he missed Veradero Beach, and like, he sort of, you know, we had like small little homages to it. I think, you know, for us the big one obviously was Shiro, and we had a different story planned for Shiro. And when we explained his backstory and-and, you know, we were showing he was, you know–this wasn’t ethnic diversity–but we were trying to have some representation with-with LGBTQ+, and that, you know, we might’ve been pushing a little too early, too soon, for where maybe the-the studio or the industry was-was comfortable at the time. Um, and so obviously we-we had to divert that story. But I think we didn’t want to put too much import on anyone’s ethnic background. We wanted them, we wanted people to be able to find what they found appealing purely based on-on-on character, on-on the content of the individual character’s character. So it was-it was vague, we-we, you know, and it wasn’t intentional, it just, it wasn’t a focus of ours to make it overly explicit that they were–you know, Keith. Nobody knows where Keith landed in terms of anything.

LM: Yeah. It’s always, it’s-it’s tricky because the thing that you risk I think by super nailing down a character, is you can make one group really happy, but then you can also exclude a lot of other groups. And we-we wanted to–we would’ve loved for everyone to be able to be represented but couldn’t have, like, a million characters in this show, like, with large talking roles to feel like everyone really got their due. So what you oftentimes have to do is realize you have to create these characters and hope that people can see themselves in them. And sometimes the more–I mean it even happens with story, and like some of our crazy space magic stuff: the more you nail it down and explain it, like, kind of, the more the magic is taken out of it. And I’m not–I don’t want to say that’s for every situation ever, I think, I hope that everyone gets explicit representation somewhere, somehow, and hopefully in the coming years there will be so much representation across the board that no one will ever feel left out because they’ll be able to see themselves somewhere. But this, you know, we just had one show and a limited amount of characters to do it in, and so I think we didn’t want to nail down every one character so specifically to make anyone feel like absolutely “you are not in this cast”.

JDS: Right.

MM: So, out of all the characters, who did you feel had the most obvious representation other than Shiro?

LM: Huh, I, uh, I guess I would just say, just, Lance because Jeremy said he was Cuban and everybody was like, “He’s Cuban!” You know, it was a celebration, but I mean beyond that I know, like, I think Pidge was, like–we wrote in the bible that she was Italian, but like, that was never really, like, a thing ever–and I don’t even know if I would fully categorize her as that.

JDS: I wouldn’t.

LM: Yeah, I think that we really didn’t super nail down much of anyone.

JDS: Yeah, I mean, we just, you know, just tried to create a cast of characters that visually you could tell were from different backgrounds.

LM: It’s tricky ‘cuz there’s just, there’s–sadly there’s a nasty part of fandom out there where people will say, “You can’t cosplay this character unless you are specifically, like, the exact look of that character.” And we just don’t-don’t always want to give fuel to that sort of fire.

JDS: We want everybody to be able to find something that they appreciate and that they can latch onto about the character of all our characters.

MM: Okay. Like, I was thinking, like, Ezor and Zethrid. They kinda looked like they ended up together.

JDS: Sure. Okay.

MM: Okay.

LM: Oh, you want to talk about that?

JDS: You know, we’ve sort of talked about it in-in the past. We’ve-we’ve talked about it in-depth in the past. There was specifically with LGBTQ representation, I think there was a line within the studio and within the industry as a whole when it comes to shows of this type, which are sort of, like, traditionally marketed to be, like, boys toys, action/adventure, 6-11, which are, like, kind of these-these buzzwords that-that go out when you’re creating these things, um, where, like, characters on the periphery are fair game to some extent.

LM: They’re less-scrutinized.

JDS: They’re less-scruti–yes, less-scrutinized.

LM: Especially in a, in a boys toys, uh, show, if they’re female characters, they’re definitely less-scrutinized.

JDS: There’s just less import put on them in terms of they’re gonna sell a million toys. Um, and that’s–

LM: That’s a sad reality.

JDS: That’s a sad reality. And one, I will say that on a positive note is changing. And I truly believe that, like, we’re entering an age with animation and IP, if you look at something like Overwatch

MM: Right.

JDS: –you know, which we, again, we sort of used as, like, this, like, barometer when we were pitching out storylines to the executive branch and-and at that time it was like, “Well, that’s a video game, and that’s meant for teenagers,” and that’s–you know, they were looking for-for reasons for us to not to divert or to change course. And you know all-all within, like, from sort of a business perspective you can kind of see it through that lens and go like, “Okay, but I mean, guys, this isn’t really a big deal.”

MM: You just made a show for all ages, right?

JDS: We made a show for all ages, but we were broaching subject matter for, you know, for kids to sort of, like, you know, maybe think about. And that’s something that we hang our hat on, I mean we did it on Korra I think really, really well and I think Mike and Bryan were-were pioneers with that and-and-and taking an IP that allowed its audience to age up with it. So we were sort of hoping that the audience had been on for long enough that they were like, evolving along with the show. But, you know, maybe we pushed a little too hard too soon. I think Ezor and Zethrid were clearly not, you know, uh, characters that were, sort of, front and center enough for the studio to, uh, to have any worry about.

LM: They weren’t quite the characters that, I think, they were kind of hanging the franchise on, so, uh… And that-that’s the thing is like, you’ll get a lot more freedom with some kind of side characters than you will a lot of times with the main characters.

GT: Yeah.

JDS: Keep in mind, guys, like, the other reason, you know, that Shiro stuck around was because he was the soldier character that was meant to sell a ton of toys. So it was like, “You can’t kill this guy because he’s like our, he’s our Optimus Prime. He’s our Duke. He’s our, you know, Liono, he’s our main guy. He’s our, you know, He-Man.” And, you know, that’s from a business perspective, like, if you’re sort of, like, looking at this thing without any, like, sort of social structure around it, like, it’s-it’s an ugly truth that sort of presents itself. That’s, by the way, part of the reason we wanted to use him as, like, the leader that sort of, like, allows the other character to sort of fill that position and rise up. It be-it became a, uh, uh, a strong throughline for Keith’s character to live up to his potential, and we did that to some degree, but we had to adjust the story.

MM: Yeah, well you had them saving each other constantly throughout the course of the series.

JDS: Yep, and it was, hey, it was one of those changes we, like, think totally, like, helped the show, so it’s…

LM: Yeah, it’s part of the job.

JDS: It’s part of the process.

LM: When you get a change, like, you know, you don’t just just kinda stomp your feet and storm off, you just, you try to make the best story you can, so ultimately when we get the note “Shiro has to be in-in the show and–forever”, then we don’t just be like, “Well whatever, we’re just gonna write him out of these episodes and treat him like-like nothing.” No, we’re gonna find a way to make his story still very important to the show and we’re also going to find a way to not disservice Keith and just make him–I mean he could’ve been season 1 Keith the whole series, where he just barely does anything, but we didn’t wanna do that. We always had, um, you know these ideas of him rising to be more, and so how do we service both of those characters? And we just kinda had to roll with the punches and-and hope that we were able to do so in a satisfactory way.

DA: So was that a huge thing, like the-the perception from the, sort of, toy companies of him being, like, this really stereotypical macho, kind of, symbol? Was that a huge reason why you kind of started to subvert that? Or was that idea always in your head, or the back of your mind for what you wanted Shiro to be around the time when you found out, like, he wasn’t going to be leaving the show? Like, when did that shift and when did he start to shift into the character he then became further down the line in terms of, like, showing his disability representation, but also you know, the queer representation as well? When did you start to, like, try to fold that in to kind of, like, subvert that macho hero perspective?

JDS: Uh, I mean, you know, I think the subversion, that’s like an aspect of it. We-we absolutely, you know, sort of knew we wanted to work in, you know, queer representation into the show. It was just, for us it was a matter of when and we knew we had to, like, try to–I don’t know–ingratiate ourselves, make sure that we were doing the show that the studio was happy with before we broached it because we knew it was a big deal, uh, for the studio and kind of for this genre of show.

LM: Yeah, and-and specifically in this genre, like, there are things that I-I’d always hoped we’d be able to do with the show that I definitely didn’t put in the bible ‘cuz there’s this kind of unspoken rule where if you push too hard too fast, you’ll probably get a no. But if you prove to them that you can make them a good show, and then you ask for it, like, once you’ve proven yourself, there’s a better chance that you’re gonna get a yes.

JDS: Yeah, you’ve sorta got a track record behind you.

LM: And so, like, I had, you know, always had these ideas of like, what if this-this macho guy was actually queer? That was about the time when I came across the bury your gays trope and I realized, “Oh, that’s not something we wanna do.” I knew what we needed Shiro to do in the story–which was we needed him to kind of exit the story–and so it was like, “Okay, well, you know what, let’s not do the representation through Shiro, let’s find it in another character somewhere down the line. We’ll move forward with this story.” And so then when that–

JDS: And this is still when we were still under the assumption that Shiro was not going to be in the show.

LM: Yeah, this was literally, like, development before we were even full-time in-house at DreamWorks working on it.

MM: Mm-hm.

LM: When, you know, we come in, we’re working on the show, and then at some point we get, y-you know–

JDS: The mandate.

LM: The mandate that, like, he’s gonna stay alive and that’s when we started thinking, “Okay, well then, we can–some of the things we’d taken off the table we can actually do again.” So we weren’t necessarily working them in hardcore from season 1, but I mean you’ll notice that, you know, Shiro isn’t, like, wink-winky eyein’ at any ladies, he’s always just a very respectable man. We knew his, I guess his sexual orientation was not something that needed to be explored in the first season, so it left that door open to us.

JDS: But yeah, I mean, I-I think the important thing was that, like, even in our original pitch in which, you know, Adam wasn’t part of the Galaxy Garrison, and-and doesn’t die in Earth’s invasion and all that sort of thing, like, the idea was to show representation but not–i-it didn’t affect Shiro’s character in any way. He didn’t-he didn’t act any differently, he didn’t fall into any of the tropes that you would, you know, in shows like I had growing up, like, a show, like, you know, for instance like Three’s Company where it was like, “Oh, Jack Tripper is pretending to be a gay man, so anytime Mr. Roper comes up he’s acting super effeminate.” Not that there’s, you know, anything wrong with acting effeminate, but it was its own trope. Shiro was sort of, like, bucking-bucking that in our eyes.

DA: So with that, obviously, you know the story changed with Adam and Shiro from what you originally envisaged. When in the development stage, like, when did you get the go on that? Like, when did you get the yes? Was it when, like, was season 7 all wrapped? Was it already done? Was it already, like, in the show and then you had to, like–

JDS: Yes. Here’s the weird thing, right? So this is–I’m gonna give you a very, very loose sort of fast and dirty breakdown of how it went down. So, we had a pitch for Adam and Shiro. It made it all the way to, like, storyboards. It made it through premise, through script, through storyboards. It got storyboarded, it was like a day out from shipping. And then, you know, we got called into a conversation where we were told we couldn’t have Adam and Shiro in a relationship. So we’re sort of in this weird position where we’re like, “Okay, well, let us pitch you, like, a version where, like, maybe they’re not saying things that are so explicit,” and maybe, you know, we can adjust the dialogue. So we pitched that back, and that sort of got rejected again. And at that point we were a little confused because, you know, Overwatch was out, and-and Steven Universe was obviously taking off, so we were sort of pointing at those things and-and we were getting pushback because it was like, “Well, you guys aren’t creator-owned. This is a show that’s, you know, more boy-centric, like, 6-11.” And I know this, it-it sounds horrible, but these were the excuses that we were hearing back.

MM: But by that time you had known who your audience was, right?

JDS: You know, we did, but-but the marketing machine that’s behind a show, like, those millions of dollars are spent and are going in a certain direction. And for us to, like, and… they’re millions of dollars, like, so from a company perspective, like, we were making a show that was diverting from maybe its original purpose. And that’s me, you know, sort of just looking almost from the outside in as much as inside we were. That-that’s all we could sort of take away from it. So we were given-given, like, notes on how to revise the scene, we salvaged as much of the staging as we could, so like the original version had a lot of the staging the same, but they were in an apartment and not in the Galaxy Garrison lounge, and you know, Adam was changed to be like a flight partner and so, you know, make it very much like a Goose and Maverick relationship. That got produced. That got made, the entire season got made, and we were well into making season 8 when the door sort of squeaked back open, um, and at that point I want to say Shiro was at least in development. And I think–She-Ranot Shiro. She-Ra. She-Ra–within, uh, within the studio, and I think the studio was just, sort of, beginning to sort of open its eyes to-to the possibilities of there being representation in their shows and there not being a huge backlash, a huge public backlash, for it. So they said, “Hey, maybe you can revisit that scene.” Adam’s, you know, fate was already sealed at that point, unfortunately. And so we had this decision. Do we revise the dialogue and have some level of representation versus no level of representation? And we had to make that decision really quickly and we decided to do it, hoping that confirming a character, being able to say that publicly, would, you know, make some in-roads and at least open more doors in the future for shows of this kind. And you know, obviously things turned out the way they did. We were very aware of-of the trope of bury your gays, but we thought that this was, uh, uh, a more important step to take. I think, we’ve said it before, like, our biggest, you know, regret was going to Comic-Con and making–

LM: Yeah, we–and, though the problem is we worked in animation a long time. We’re very used to that idea of, like, some progress is progress, like, small steps, like, you know, like… I’ve been–I’ve been campaigning for, like, more female involvement. I got two ladies in a main cast of seven, that’s-that’s nowhere near equality, but I was doing, like, backflips because, you know, every–any other time it could’ve just been one token female. We’re used to kind of those baby steps and and taking what we can get and appreciating it. We can’t expect the public to understand that, and that was where we kind of lost sight. We thought, uh, our excitement w-would, you know, I guess, somehow–

JDS: Carry through.

LM: –carry through and-and I think it was kind of like a snap back to reality, for me for sure, just realizing, oh yeah, like, we’re the people who’ve been in, you know, like, the pitch-black room for five years, and then we get, like, one window cracked open. And then someone comes over and is like, “Why are you in this pitch-black room, this sucks.” We’re like, “No, no, no, that window that’s cracked open this is the greatest room ever!” Like, you know, it’s-it’s sadly we’ve been, I guess, a little… our views have been skewed.

JDS: But I-I-I would say this, too, that, like, if given the choice again, I-I d-I don’t know what the right answer is. Like, I wanna say we’d make the same decision again because it’s the choice of confirming a main hero character, or nothing at all, like, that’s kind of the position we found ourselves in.

LM: Yeah.

JDS: Obviously, guys, if we could learn from this, and, like, go into, like, Voltron2.0, or go into, like, next show 2.0, the assumption is that you would-you would have that built into the character from the get-go, and you would-you could–everybody would be on the same page.

LM: Yeah. You would-you would get signatures so no one would change their minds.

JDS: Yeah, it wouldn’t be a thing that y-you sort of had to, like, wait to ingratiate yourself to the studio with, and all that. So–but I think, I think we’re getting to that place. I think the industry is getting to that place. It sucks for us personally that we had to take lumps along the way and we wish we could’ve done things better, but, um, and in our case–and in that situation–it was sort of like…

LM: Yeah, we made the only choice we had to make, and we hoped, uh, that it would mean something to someone.

JDS: Yeah.

MM: Alright, so, you guys had a lot to deal with there. You had a marketing machine that was marketing to a different audience. During the course of you working on the show, DreamWorks had been bought out by Comcast, so Universal became y-your parent company, right?

LM: Yeah.

JDS: Yup.

LM: Yeah.

MM: So there were things that happened that–there were deals that were already made through DreamWorks when it was just DreamWorks, and now there were changes being made as a result of Universal coming in. So there were a lot of hands in the till–I’m sure there were a lot of people that gave you notes during the course of production and everything–and you had to take it all into consideration and still come up with the story you wanted to tell.

JDS: Well, I mean that’s kind of the case on any show. I mean, this was a lot because we were such a product-driven show, but-but as a showrunner, when you’re working on existing IP, that’s kinda par for the course. This was another added layer on top of that, obviously, we were broaching subject matter which, like–again, in, like, Steven Universe, I think Rebecca’s said that she dealt with her own version of this and that was on a creator-driven show. And Korra was obviously able to broach the subject matter at the very, very end of the show, but that was not–that was not the understanding of the show, you know, while it was in production, that was something that happened at the very end. But again, we were in a-in a unique situation in that, like, you know, we were-we’re working on this IP that-that is, it’s not our thing. The other element that we had to contend with, you know, Lauren and I had this moment where we kinda, like, were like, “Is this something we, like, walk away from?” And that’s not really on the table either because we had a crew there. Because we had, honestly like, investment in the quality of the show that we made up to that point, and to sort of hand that over to somebody else, it was just–

LM: Yeah, it’s just a matter of, you know, there’s the obvious way where you ask for a thing and, you know, you don’t get it, you get mad, and you leave. But we’re, I think, just much more accustomed to just as-as professionals, you ask for a thing, you don’t get it, you try to make the best of what you’ve got and you find a way, like, I’m sure there’s a version where it’s so dire and so awful that it’s nothing near the show that you wanted it to be and then you-you walk away. But we felt like we could still send the correct messages. Like, even if, if we ended up with, like, a hard no, no representation situation, we could still at least try to send positive messages through the body of the show if it weren’t through an individual character’s representation.

JDS: Right. I-I think our-our big lesson, too, was, like, “go all in or go nothing at all”. Is that our takeaway from this, or, you know it was just a lot to learn from the entirety of the experience, so it was-it was a big stew. There was a lot of moving parts. And that’s not to take away from-from anybody being, like, hurt or even worse, you know, offended by, like, how things shook out. We’ve learned from everybody’s reactions on this subject matter in particular, but it was–that was the truth of our circumstance.

MM: Okay.

GT: When you guys, uh, were researching Voltron, I mean obviously the two of you had seen some of Voltron back in the day, but when you were researching this IP–which had been more or less dormant for quite a long time–how did you go about doing that, aside from watching the show? Did you, you know–for example, you know, the pilots’ uniforms didn’t match the colors of their lions. Was there some research involved in figuring out what was done back then and how you wanted to address it in the new show? Something like that?

LM: A lot of it we just kind of followed our gut. Like, we definitely, I know I watched the old show, I watched Beast King GoLion on Crunchyroll of all places and just got myself refamiliarized with the show. One of those things that was always kind of confusing to me was, like, the differences of the pilots’ uniforms. And we looked at, like, comics and-and other, kind of, shoot-off material that had been done for Voltron and they had, I think even Voltron Force, they kinda changed the colors of the outfits to match the lions, but you know, that was, I think just, you know, me, I know my personal opinion and, you know, Joaquim feel free to jump in if you have differing opinions.

JDS: I agreed with you ‘cuz we did it.

LM: We did it! Like, I, I had always imagined, like, I think because as a kid I had, I had attached the characters more to their colors than to their specific lions, and in my kid brain I didn’t even realize, like, I had to kind of relearn that, “Oh, the red guy’s in the black lion, not the red lion. And the blue guy’s in the red lion, not the blue lion.” Because I know the pink girl’s in the blue lion, because that’s the one thing I remember. And so, when I would see, like, the comics had changed their outfit colors, it always felt weird to me, ‘cuz I, I had identified those characters so strongly with their colors. And so we kinda came up with this storyline that ultimately, you know, we liked because it progressed the characters, it didn’t keep them–we didn’t wanna be the-the show that did everything kinda like, nothing ever changes, everything stays the same through the whole show. And so this idea of the characters starting in one lion and then progressing to the next, but keeping their, their original colors and then ultimately in my happy child nostalgia place getting us to the original, like, Voltron line-up was something that, I don’t know, I was really excited about.

JDS: Yeah, I mean it was, it was a cool way to sort of, like, you know back into the familiar for, like, old fans, um, but I think that’s the really unique thing about Voltron in general. It’s such, I mean you guys are-are well-versed in it, but for a-a vast majority I’d say of the fans that grew up watching it when they were kids, it’s this foggy show that you had, sort of these, like, big pillars that you could latch onto in terms of what you remembered about it, but putting all those things together didn’t always necessarily make sense, so… I mean I remember at some point even when we were, like, in the early days of, like, making the show, I made this huge, like, mistake talking about Shiro and Sven and it was… I remember both Lauren and Tim correcting me like, “No, dude that just wasn’t the case” and I was like, “Really?”

LM: Yeah, like, Joaquim at one point he was like, “What, Sven wasn’t in the black lion?”

JDS: And he wasn’t and it was like, “No,” and I was like, “Really?” And I’d already done the research and I’d somehow again sort of undone and gone back to what my child brain remembered.

LM: But yeah, I mean, even looking at that old art, when you look at Sven’s outfit, he has, like, the black outfit and he has this gold trim.

JDS: He’s got the gold trim, man!

LM: He feels like he should be the leader. But it’s like, he’s got that special gold trim that no one else has, but it’s just kind of a weird thing.

JDS: But he was also kind of emotionally, like–

LM: He was kind of like, you know–

JDS: –kind of the big brother. I don’t know.

LM: He was–Keith was your standard kinda 80’s hero/leader guy, but, I mean Sven was the one who, like, put his life on the line to protect Lance, and so he was always the guy that I respected a ton. And I just appreciated that character.

JDS: He’s just, he’s just–yeah, exactly.

GT: Yeah, that makes sense. And another example–and I’m not just listing that as, like, the thing, but another item–I mean, clearly Voltron’s design was revised. One thing that disappeared was the emblem on the-the chest with the cross, which you know, you know, there in GoLion, there is an implication that there may be some, uh, western cultural impact on the planet Altea just through some of the gestures in the earlier seasons wherein the presence of a church on the planet and things like that. Was the thought to revamp this design, was it just to give it its own, its own distinct look? Or was it, was it sort of looking, “Wow, what is this here for? Does this-does this symbol mean anything in this new version of Altea where these lions are made from a comet?” I mean, I-I’m just curious as to how some of that kind of stuff–not just the uniforms, not just the emblem, but those sorts of things–as you look at the old stuff going, “Hm, what can we use, what can we discard?” You know what I mean?

JDS: Well, I mean, I think there’s the want to avoid sort of, like, the-the inherent, sort of, religiosity of it all.

LM: Yeah, well, like a huge part of it is just as we’re creating this story, we’re making an Altea that Earth doesn’t know about so no Earth symbolism should really show up over there. We kind of had to just jump the shark with lions because we’re like, “How do they know what lions are?” I don’t know. Nobody knows.

JDS: Hey by the way–no–but we pitched an idea.

LM: Did we?

JDS: We did. Where, where, uh, we show Alfor on, like, his sojourn and it was like, we show Alfor on his sojourn to, like–

LM: I think we were trying to, like, have some sort of time-travel, or-or was it, like–

JDS: No, it was like we see Alfor doing cave paintings on Oriande or something like that–

LM: –like he saw cave paintings that were lions or something, I don’t know.

JDS: –but he saw the mythical creature on Oriande and that gave him the idea–

GT: The guardian?

JDS: –to make their likeness. But we also pitched a really bad version where it was, what was it? It was like, I forgot what it was, like they go to Earth and they see, they see a lion, a real lion, and they go like, “Oh my gosh! It’s a,” I don’t know, “it’s a mythical whatever whatever!” And they’re just like, “No that’s just a lion.”

LM: Yeah, I don’t know I just think–

MM: I’m glad it wasn’t five yelmores.

[laughter]

JDS: That’s right.

GT: Oh my.

LM: I tried to pitch like, the hoobajoob idea that the comets, they’re like lions with trailing manes and I think Tim just looked at me like I was on some hippie shit.

[laughter]

JDS: But a lot of that stuff, I will also say is just kind of the randomness of how, like, these shows were created back in the day. I don’t think any of the creators of the original Beast King GoLion put, you know there was obviously thought put into it, but I think sometimes it was like, “That’s just cool” or “that’s western iconography that we find appealing, let’s put it on there,” you know. A-and working within that or-or sort of figuring out what to keep and what to lose, you know, we lost Voltron’s lips ‘cuz it creeped us out, like, cool in the show. He looked kind of Egyptian, you know?

GT: Yeah.

JDS: So… yeah.

GT: Yeah, that makes sense. A-a-and you’ve just mentioned cave markings, which leads to another question I had which was a story point in the very first episode, or the first, the pilot showed that there were cave markings in the hiding spots of blue, yellow, and green lions at least, if not also red wherever the heck it was. But Keith had been studying the markings and-and they told stories about a blue lion and had clues about an arrival, and-and it seemed like that night might have been when the arrival had been foretold, and of course on that night Shiro crashes to Earth. So what were the thoughts about who made those cave markings and when?

JDS: Yeah, I mean, so this is where we get a little loosey-goosey. Um, but, you know, I think the idea at the time was, like, you know, civilizations rose up and fell around, around the lions and-and those were sort of the remnants of-of maybe, I don’t know, maybe somebody interfaced with the lion on some level and could, could figure it out? We-we kept it super loosey-goosey. The same thing that, like, the most loosey-goosey of it all was, like, going into Keith’s shack and the frequency lining up with the, with the formation of the rocks and the mountains. That was–

GT: Yes, Fraunhofer lines.

JDS: –none of that makes any sense. It was just visual tomfoolery.

LM: The long story short is we tried to work something in there, and then we got, like, focus-test notes that was like, “Kids are bored, make this scene shorter.”

JDS: Yeah.

LM: And then we cut out a ton of stuff and it ended up being like, “I got these vibes, and then you landed.” And then we never went back, a-and yeah.

JDS: We had, we had a kind of thorough explanation for, like–

LM: We tried. We did.

JDS: –but it was, even that was still loosey-goosey and anytime you’re putting, you know, a suspect board up and you’re tying things with-with red string, like, good luck. I don’t know. That’s all I got to say.

GT: That makes sense to me. [laughter] The answer is “because.”

JDS: Yeah.

LM: Yeah.

GT: That works, that works.

LM: I would’ve loved to be able to have everything figured out on, like, a Star Trek level, but I’m telling ya right here–

GT: I’m work-I’m working on that, Lauren. I’m really working on that.

JDS: Much in the same way that we had to work around the loosey-gooseyness of the original series, maybe somebody will have to take these things, these wacky ideas and just make sense of them.

LM: Yeah maybe someday, someone will, like, fix our mess up.

GT: Ah, you didn’t mess that stuff up. It’s fun stuff that just gets me thinking, worldbuilding and all that stuff.

DA: So, obviously when you went into the epilogue in season 8, I’m bringing it back to, like, the Shiro and Adam thing.

GT: Yeah.

DA: After the response to season 7 and then moving into season 8, when you did eventually get the sort of “go ahead” to move into the epilogue and show Shiro getting married, was there ever a consideration that potentially Adam may not have died? Was there ever a consideration that you could have brought him back, mostly because with the chaos of, like, the war when you got to, uh, was there ever in the back of your head a thought that you might be able to revisit that original storyline a-and bring that back too and end that way?

MM: Can I suggest something?

[The others make noises of assent.]

MM: Okay. You brought back Daibazaal and Altea, so if they could come back, couldn’t Adam come back?

LM: Well, I-I’m gonna an-answer Donya’s bit first, I think the-the issue that we ran into was we had basically made this whole story on Earth where, you know, it was, the whole story was made, kind of, without us really having access to, to that relationship. And so bringing Adam back when he was essentially killed off as a straight man, it was not something that we had any need to do during our time on Earth. And so I think to bring him back at the end would’ve–in our story minds–just kind of, uh, brought up those questions of where was he that whole time. You know, “Why-why didn’t he show up in the rebellion?” sort of deal. It just seemed like it was a pretty far jump to go.

JDS: I will say this, too, like, as much as the door squeaked open on how we could revise the dialogue between Shiro and Adam, you know, I think to, to speak to some-some of the fandom’s complaints even about that scene was that the dialogue wasn’t necessarily explicit even in our revision. And that was, you know, due to, like, what we could and couldn’t say, uh, between the two characters. So even though the door was open, um, it was, it was squeaked open, um, and by the time fan reactions started coming in we literally had, like, a month left at the studio. A-and this is-this is just, like, the sad truth of it. So when the studio realized that we’d all collectively stepped in-in a huge mess, you know, th-they put the ball in our court and said, “What do you want to do?” And we said, “We would love to be able to confirm on-screen a-and make it very explicit and, and also play to the fact that Shiro was able to find happiness and was able to sort of find that balance that, that even in the Adam and Shiro, uh, storyline he wasn’t able to kind of find.” So that’s how we, that’s how we arrived there, I think, to if we were to introduce Adam, it would have left… I don’t know. I’m thinking of it purely from a story perspective, like, we would’ve had to have an epilogue that almost ran an entire episode long to, sort of, see him survive the wreckage and then… I don’t know. I-I-I don’t know. I-It wasn’t, it wasn’t something that came to our heads. So to answer your question: no, we didn’t really think about it because in our brains Adam was-was gone.

LM: Yeah, and to answer your question, Marc, it–this was never directly featured in the show, but our-our kind of personal logic when we were making out that scene of Allura making the sacrifice and kind of rebirthing some of these planets. Our-our thought was she was able to, through, through her actions, give life back to any planets that had been taken, kinda, before their time. To give back to that land, that quintessence-kind of-formed landmasses. And so any planet that had, kind of, died because it lasted its life cycle didn’t come back, but Daibazaal met a premature death. Altea did, even Olkarion. Like those planets would come back, but we kind of drew the line at souls. She couldn’t necessarily bring back a lost soul. That just seemed a little too god-like for us.

MM: So did that include any planet that had its quintessence removed by the Komar?

LM: That includes the moose planet!

MM: Oh, wow!

JDS: Moose planet makes a comeback.

MM: Okay.

JDS: But none of that is to take away from, sort of, like, you know, the seriousness of-of the question that you asked, Donya, because you know, look even, even in crafting that epilogue, like, i-it was done at the end, it was done as an–as an appeal to this amazing fandom that we garnered over the course of the series that we knew was there from-from, especially from working on Korra, but we just didn’t know it was going to be–and I think the studio definitely didn’t know it was gonna be–so prominent. So, we wish, believe me, had our original story, sort of, been told the way we had initially, you know, conceived it with Adam, and he wasn’t shown dying in a-in a battle, you know. We’ve discussed where we could’ve taken that story, you know, with like Veronica returning with the rebels and then Adam being part of that and there being a reunion, but like, it’s like weirdly armchair-quarterbacking something. Some of that that never took place.

MM: Mm-hm.

JDS: So it’s tough for us to kind of reconcile those two things. There’s a ton we would’ve done differently had we been given the opportunity, but we tried to make the most of the opportunities that were given to us. And that’s kind of where we landed on that.

MM: I know you guys probably haven’t listened to our, our episodes, our podcasts, right?

LM: Um, not all of them.

MM: Okay.

JDS: Yeah. I definitely listened to some of the key ones.

LM: I’ve been off the grid for a little bit for the past few months, so, uh–

JDS: Yeah, we disappeared.

MM: Okay.

LM: Been trying to get some, uh, some house, house stuff done, so my internet has been on and off.

MM: Alright. In response to what happened with Allura, I had an idea that there was a concept that was established at the beginning of Beast King GoLion that there was this goddess or queen of the universe and I was thinking, you know, that Allura had made this sacrifice, had brought back all the realities, had brought back Daibazaal and Altea, and basically saved the universe. This sort of makes her, you know, on a new realm. She is sort of the keeper of the stars, the caretaker over all realities. And it seems like a role she would’ve assumed at the end there, especially since we saw the lions going to her silhouette. She basically risked everything to bring back all those realities. I was just wondering, when she said goodbye to Lance and he got those Altean markings, is it possible that she left a piece of herself on Lance so that if Voltron ever needed to return, she could return as well through leaving, like, a horcrux of herself on Lance?

JDS: Uh, I mean, horcrux is the first I–I don’t even know what that means.

LM: That’s a Harry Potter thing.

JDS: Oh. Okay. Sure.

MM: It’s that Harry Potter thing where Voldemort had split himself up into seven different objects and as long as at least one of those objects was still intact with the horcrux, then he could come back.

JDS: Cool.

LM: I like all of that, and I’m gonna say you need to pitch it to whoever makes the next Voltron.

JDS: Yeah. I think the big thing was that, was we were just trying to leave, you know, with, with as much as we wanted the sacrifice to resonate in terms of what it means to give yourself to a cause, I think that post-credit scene was very much that, was the door being left open to, you know, the symbols glowing, to Lance feeling a sense that Allura was out there, to the lions going out.

LM: That she was somehow speaking to him through the lions.

JDS: Yeah.

LM: And then the lions leaving to, you know, whatever reason. If it’s told them their job is done or if it’s to go do something else, and then ultimately we see them heading toward that Allura-shaped nebula. Like, I always kinda had the story in my head was that her quinessence was ultimately kind of reforming and coming back together and we don’t know how long it’ll take, but one day, ideally, Allura would be reborn and the lions would be there to pick her up.

JDS: And I’m gonna pitch this here for the first time.

LM: Okay.

MM: Okay.

JDS: The lions go to the nebula, they merge with the nebula, become a sort of vision-like Allura deity being that comes back and we’ve got a mega-robot Allura godlike supercomputer–

LM: Yeah, and then she is Space Angel, which I think is what you were trying to say.

JDS: Exactly, she becomes Space Angel.

MM: Okay. You guys also mentioned that you pitched an ending that might’ve included some of the main characters being killed off.

JDS: All of them.

MM: Yeah.

LM: Well, yeah, well, just in, you know, in that, uh, very Voltron-like teamwork scenario, we always liked that idea of that ultimately Voltron the robot was a weapon and that it was a very powerful weapon and that all–so much of this war was basically came about because of that weapon and Zarkon’s, you know, looking for that weapon, he wants this power back. And the idea of if they take that weapon off the table will the universe be a better place? And so in ultimately having to make the sacrifice that they would have to make, they would also be, you know, taking that weapon off the table. And honestly, like, in doing that, when you have all of the characters kind of exit at the same time, it just kind of leaves the door open for anyone with an imagination out there to immediately write them all right back into the story at any point if they just want to boink ‘em out of, you know, wherever it is we sent them.

JDS: Yeah, I’m thinking of Infinity War. Uh, but you know, I’m also–it, it’s funny, like as we talk about this stuff, and we sort of, like, make comments off the cuff and say, like, “Yeah at one point they were all gonna die,” that’s not to, like, take any of the import of what that means to, like, a fan watching it or people who’ve invested their time in the show. Literally, like, when we’re in the writer’s room, everything is on the table. Um, so we-we-we talk about, like, all options.

LM: Yeah.

MM: So there was, was there a happy ending option?

JDS: That, that was something–I mean I’m sure there was an option where it was like everybody lived and everything was happy a-and Lance and Allura had a baby, or, you know, whatever. We wanted to make a show that ultimately demonstrates that there are consequences. As fantastical as the show gets, as crazy as the show gets, that there are consequences and that sacrifice can be meaningful. So, I don’t know about you guys, but like, I know I’ve lost people that are very important to me in my life. The lessons they taught me live on through me and live on through my, my child now, like I pass those lessons onto my child. That’s an important message, you know, and that’s an important concept for people, I think–especially kids–t-to understand. It stinks to lose somebody, but it’s important to honor their memories.

MM: You solidified that pretty much in “Day 47”. One of your storyboard directors from Studio Mir, Seok Jin Jang, you paid tribute to him in “Day 47”. That was really cool.

LM: Yeah, yeah, we lost Seok Jin during the production, um, it was amazing, he actually got to work on every episode up until the very end and it was incredibly unfortunate that shortly after, you know, he finished storyboarding that last episode he was taken from us. And it-it affected us all pretty badly, and the directors specifically–because they had worked so closely with him–and he was just such a shining light of happiness and positivity. He was so unbelievably talented, that when we lost him we just felt like we’d-we’d lost something that we were never going to get back, and that, you know, the world had kind of been robbed of this amazing human being, but, you know, we don’t get to, to write that story, that’s life.

MM: Mm-hm.

LM: And so we could only do what we could do, which was move forward and hopefully pay him some sort of tribute and know that he lives on through the amazing, you know, work that he put into this show.

JDS: And I mean, he really did. Some of, some of the key moments that you remember from the show are directly, you know, his doing and his point of view on how the story would unfold visually.

MM: Mm-hm.

JDS: And honestly, his memory, like, it-it’s cliche to say it, but his memory, you know, can live on through the art because he affected the show and everybody who worked on it so positively.

MM: Right.

GT: That’s very cool. Obviously Voltron: Legendary Defender is very character-focused, moreso, I think, than the prior shows, certainly the original, where, you know, they always form Voltron, they always slash up the robeast, they win, end of story. It was very common. Uh, in this show, where we’re focusing very heavily on individual characters and the bonds that each Paladin has with his or her lion, was it hard to write scenes with Voltron itself, the robot?

LM: Well, yeah, I think you can see he-he didn’t come out unless we really needed him. Like, and he really only came out to kind of, like, fight things. Because ultimately, the robot hims–I say “himself” but it’s a robot–doesn’t have a personality, so there’s not really, like, character stuff to get from that robot. And, you know, it’s all about the pilots that are inside of it. And so, you know, we can definitely, like we know how to handle, like, those characters and to do those fight scenes inside of Voltron with those characters, but, but if we were just to make a show about a robot kinda running around, it, I think we would–it would be a struggle.

JDS: Yeah. And he’s, you know–ultimately he became the symbol of teamwork and so we-we tried to, like, set Voltron up as a symbol for the universe to kind of rally around. But yeah, I mean, you know. I wouldn’t say it’s tough, it’s just, it wasn’t–it didn’t become our fallback every single episode. We were more trying to tell, you know, character pieces. But, that’s also, y-you know, a path that can potentially get a bit divergent from the intent of, you know, where the show was originally being marketed towards.

GT: Oh, I see. Yeah, I was just, I was just curious because obviously, you know, you’ve got all these characters with all these character arcs, the main story arc, and all these different threads, and then, I-I mean in tha–in the context of that, I mean I’ve loved Voltron obviously since the original and all that, so you know, for me to say, you know, this sounds kind of silly, but i-in the context of the show being as deep as it often was, I just wonder if it felt sometimes like, “Oh, yeah, we better form the robot now.” [laughter] As a writer, you know what I mean?

JDS: There’s that, there’s other stuff that, you know, sadly as we were dealing with-with fallout from, like, disappointed fans over, you know, certain storylines not coming to pass, o-or things not happening, uh, from a character perspective the way they would want. Sometimes things like, you know, Voltron and the Atlas merging got totally lost in the noise of that and we–I will scream to the heavens to this day that, like, that was awesome. Like, they became a super-robot, like, come on people! Let’s give recognition to super-mega-ultra–

LM: Z-zenith, I mean, you haven’t used “zenith”.

JDS: Zenithtron. Yeah.

LM: But, uh, yeah, I mean we, we–at our hearts, they were more ships than they were characters, but we take great pride in our ships. We love the castle, we love the Atlas, and we love Voltron and the lions. The lions became, we kind of tried to make them into slightly more character-like with their abilities and–

JDS: Their personalities, yeah.

LM: –yeah, have personalities, but that was something that was-wasn’t, you know, in every other version of the show. That was something that we kind of threw in there for our show. And, uh, but we always try to respect it and love our ships as much as we could because we actually appreciate that stuff, too. We appreciate good design and interesting things and, like, you know, like, I frickin’ love the SDF-1 with all my heart.

GT: Oh, yeah.

LM: So, uh, you know, it-it definitely doesn’t talk and definitely doesn’t have a personality, but I appreciate whenever that ship is on the screen.

JDS: And it’s a symbol, it’s a strong symbol.

LM: Mm-hm.

GT: Mm, yeah. And I am totally enamored with the Castle of Lions. I love, love the original the original design, and I think I told Christine Bian when she was on the show that the Legendary Defender version is the only version since the original that I’ve absolutely fallen in love with. It’s just a gorgeous design.

JDS: Aw, that’s awesome.

LM: That’s amazing.

MM: I wish we could’ve had a Castle of Lions toy! [laughter]

LM: Yeah!

GT: Yeah.

[laughter]

GT: Back to consumer products. Give me a spaceship toy!

LM: Let’s get some LEGO Ideas people on that! But, uh, but yeah, there was always a concern, I think, in the consumer products side of like, how, how the scales would never match. You would have to make the Castle the size of a small building to make it actually to scale. But we’re not super sticklers on scale, I would gladly just had a really cool light-up, frickin’ sound-making Castle of Lions.

JDS: Just make it a ship. It’s a ship. It’s like a Star Destroyer. There are Star Destroyer toys out there.

LM: Yep.

MM: Yeah. That there are.

GT: Sure.

MM: Well, I’m curious about the release schedule of the different seasons. I mean, certainly the first 26 episodes came out 13 and 13, then the next 26 episodes came out in 6 and 7 episode batches, and then Netflix went back to 13. Do you know any reason why the, you know, the first change went to the smaller seasons and then why things went back to 13?

JDS: I don’t think we know the exact reasons other than, you know, it’s sort of emerging technology, streaming, especially at the time when we were still making the show, a-and and Netflix was trying to figure out who the audience actually was and all that. They were, they were just trying to play with different models, so…

LM: Yeah, a-and a lot of it’s just kinda trial and error and experimentation. I think they’d released some 13 episode seasons and I remember specifically them saying they wanted, kind of, they wanted, I think, more awareness of Voltronyear-round, so if they could release episodes. There was even one-one pitch that we kind of chuckle about where they were like, “What if we release one episode every two weeks?” And we were just like, “That’s just like being on TV! What are we doing?”

JDS: Yeah, that’s just network TV, man!

LM: Like, this is streaming! The whole point is you can, like, release a batch. So, you know, they played around with it, it wasn’t ever anything that affected our production schedule. We were always just making these shows at a steady clip, and so we’d get a lot of questions about that, about, you know, “How did it affect production?” It never did. It was really just a matter of when they, kind of, chose to upload them to Netflix and in what numbers.

JDS: Yeah, it didn’t affect the production, but it affected us having to then choose, “Okay, well this feels kind of like a natural break time,” or “this feels kind of tent-poley” where you could leave on this moment, but they weren’t always the natural places we intended for.

LM: Yeah.

GT: Okay, that makes sense.

JDS: Yeah. But they-they’re figuring it out, man. I mean–

LM: Yeah. Clearly they figured something out, ‘cuz then they put us back to 13, so what’s up.

MM: Yeah.

[laughter]

MM: One thing I wanted to ask before you guys go is that there’s this petition out there that was signed by, like, over 30,000 people.

GT: Jesus.

MM: Uh, asking if there was going to be a-an alternate version of season 8. Is there such a thing?

LM: No.

JDS: No.

MM: Okay.

LM: Sorry, guys, we don’t have that kind of time or money.

JDS: Yeah.

MM: Right.

JDS: And you know, I mean, look. We made the best show that we could make under the circumstances given and, um, to serve an alternate ending, I’m guessing it would be to address, uh, Allura’s sacrifice and–

LM: Or Shiro.

JDS: –Shiro, or maybe, yeah, or maybe there’s-there was, like, the thing that you pitched, Marc, where maybe Allura undoes everything and everything resets. Er, I-I don’t know exactly what it would be. We heard all manner of–and again, Lauren and I tried to stay off of social media just-just to not deal with anything negative that was coming our way–like, we obviously heard people’s concerns, and took that very seriously, but we heard some conspiracy theories that there was an alternate cut and there was this, that, or the other. And I hate to burst any bubbles and this will probably only lend to more conspiracy theories, but there is no alternate cut to Voltron.

GT: That’s okay.

MM: There’s basically a Voltron version of the Kobayashi Maru, it’s-it’s an unwinnable scenario.

LM: Uh, pretty much. That’s pretty–we made the show that we believed in to the best of our ability, and you know–

JDS: And within the parameters given.

LM: –you can like it, you can not like it. And-and that’s it.

JDS: And that’s perfectly fine. There’s-there’s–that’s totally fine. Everybody can still get along in the world, and, you know. It’s all, it’s all good. We-w-we, we did what we could.

MM: We’ve been reviewing season 8 episodes. So in each of these podcasts we’re doing, we’re reviewing season 8 episodes and we’re finding that a lot more people, you know, like revisiting these episodes with us and some people, you know, talk about some things that-that maybe they didn’t agree with, but overall it seems like when you take it episode by episode, things are a little bit better than they had originally perceived.

LM: I mean that’s good to hear. I would hate for, like, one moment that someone disagrees with to, you know, I guess put a negative wash on everything because ultimately a lot of people worked really hard and put an awful lot of love into this show.

MM: Yes they did.

LM: I mean, that’s just kind of how–I mean that’s how we do it. We work hard, we try to make the best shows we can–that’s all we can do–and then we put them out for people to, to love or hate and to judge as they see fit. And that-that is up to them, and they are allowed to do it. But that’s kind of, that’s kind of where it stops.

MM: Yep. I gotta tell ya, out of all the Voltron versions, I like Voltron: Legendary Defender the best, so…

LM: Oh, that is high praise! Thank you very much!

JDS: Coming from an expert such as yourself.

MM: It’s based on my ideas that, uh, if I was to pitch another Voltron show I really would work off of Voltron: Legendary Defender’s characters because you built such an incredible universe, all these worlds, all these different, uh, types of, you know, alien races, and everything. Just an amazing thing, the Voltron Coalition, the Galra… Just… it’s very deep, very rich, and, uh, you know, thank you to y-your character designer, y-your props and background supervisors, and your color supervisors, your special effects and your sound people, and your music people, and all of your animators, and it’s just, wow. Incredible job.

JDS: Yeah. I mean, everybody came together to do, uh, I think something-something that hopefully, like, can-can be looked on in-in some years and people can-can still find appreciation and, and we’re just happy to have been a part of an awesome crew.

MM: Oh, definitely.

GT: Yeah, I want to second, I-I’m, I totally love Voltron: Legendary Defender, I mean I, you know for a-anyone to say they liked absolutely every aspect of any show, I can’t imagine that ever happening with any show. But I just love the show, it was, uh, i-it was very obviously made with a lot of love, a lot of talent, a lot of skill, and a lot of this found-family that we see in the show, in the fiction itself. So thank you both, and to everyone who worked with you bringing this show around, it’s just, it’s been a lot of fun.

LM: Awesome.

JDS: We appreciate it, yup. And you guys were totally paid to say that, so right back atcha.

[laughter]

GT: Oh yeah.

MM: Yeah, I don’t think people realize we don’t get paid for anything.

JDS: Yeah.

[laughter]

LM: Yeah.

GT: Donya, did you have anything you wanted to say?

DA: I mean I’ll just reiterate–

JDS: A-and Donya, if you want to end on a question, too, that’s fine as well, like–

DA: That’s okay, um, I mean I can always follow up with you on, like, anything, I feel like.

JDS: Alright.

DA: I don’t want to keep you too late. Um… [laughter] And you know how I get when I start asking questions.

JDS: Sure, rabbit hole.

DA: Yeah, basically. But yeah no, I do want to reiterate that because covering Voltron, and obviously I got on-board, like, on season 2 because I think when season 1 came out, I, I was, like, caught up in some stuff and I was away and basically didn’t pick up immediately, but it really has been almost a life-changing experience for me, as well. And I think without that, and without, like, everything that came with it, like I’d be in a really different place, I think, than I am right now. So it has been, like, such a huge part of my life for, like, the last few years and especially, like, quite formative in terms of, like, where I was because, like, I turned 30 as like it was coming to an end, or close to an end, and it just, like coincided with, like, this weird switch and change in my life, as well, and there are pieces I’ve written, like coinciding with the show that had, like, hit really emotional personal beats that are, like, that’s always going to be a part of my life now, so it’s just… yeah. I guess, just thank you for that because without it, I think the last two years of my life would have been very different. And there are people that I would’ve never met without it, like, you know, Marc and Greg included, you know–

GT: We love you, Donya, you are the best.

MM: Yeah.

DA: Yeah, I love you, too. Um, you know, there are people that I reconnected with in my life, friendships that I reforged that had sort of come back around because our paths crossed again because of Voltron. So, like, in, like, big ways and in little ways, like, it’s like, really altered, like, the course of my life in some ways. So it’s, uh, I’m always going to be very, very thankful to that and to, like, everything that you’ve done over the course of the show as well with, like, being so gracious with your time and everything with, like, when-when the show was still in development and, you know, talking to me, a-and even talking to Marc and Greg as well and everyone involved in covering the show, like, you gave so much of your time, even just outside of the production of the show just to talk through everything, so, yeah, thank you.

JDS: We appreciate you guys, and again, like, the show helps bring people together or has helped bring people together or forged new friendships, that’s like, the best case scenario for us.

LM: Absolutely.

JDS: If it’s made people feel good, if it’s made them learn things about themselves, then that’s all we can ask for, like, you know. Uh, that’s, like, the best reward.

LM: It really is, and on a completely, like, completely selfish note: I just like that you let us kind of talk about the stuff that goes into making the show, guys. I mean I know I’m a person who enjoys listening to the commentaries and listening to, like, the behind-the-scenes stuff, and so for any of the people out there that really enjoy that, you guys have-have gone out of your way to bring people who are involved in this show on and ask them questions about that and get some of that knowledge out there. A-and some of that stuff is just interesting to people.

MM: Yes.

JDS: And you guys do it because you love it.

MM: Yes we do.

JDS: And that, I think, is, is another thing that people really have to, like, appreciate. It’s done out of love because like you said, you guys aren’t seeing any–

LM: You don’t get any kickbacks.

MM: Nope.

JDS: Yeah, you’re not getting kickback.

DA: Yeah.

JDS: Uh, but it’s, uh, you know, without you guys a show like this could easily go unnoticed. But you guys, you know, you talk about it. You, you get people thinking about things, so, we appreciate ya.

GT: Thank you.

MM: You have no idea just how many people have been inspired to be better people as a result of this show. Th-there’s, you know, tons of artists who we spotlight that say they became better artists as a result of the inspiration of doing Voltron fanart. Cosplayers who became better cosplayers as a result of doing Voltron cosplay. Writers, you know, fanfiction writers and other types of writers that had, you know, gotten better at their craft as a result of working on Voltron fanfiction or something like that. So in many, many ways you have inspired people to be better and to come together in a way that they’ve never come together before.

JDS: That’s amazing. That’s… amazing. That’s, uh, something that we can take with us to the end, um, and, that we will, we’ll, you know. You don’t realize it sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, when you’re in the middle of it, but when you get a little perspective on things and you, sort of, take the long view, this is definitely a pillar of, uh, not only our careers, but, uh, of our lives and we can, you know, have an appreciation for everything you guys did and everything the fandom did, and everything the studio and our coworkers, yeah our crew, did. That, that will stand the test of time.

MM: Yeah. So thank you.

JDS: Thank you guys.

LM: Thank you.

GT: Thank you both so much.

MM: And can we ask you to do it just one more time?

JDS: Sure.

LM: [laughter] For sure. Hey, this is Lauren Montgomery.

JDS: Hey, this is Joaquim Dos Santos.

LM: And you’re listening to–

JDS and LM: Let’s Voltron!

[outro music]

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