Series Review: Monsters at Work is a nostalgic trip and fills in some gaps left by the original movie
Taking place within 'Monsters Inc', the show explores how monsters and the factory make the jump from scream to laugh power in what is a funny and emotional ride.
Monsters at Work is only the second television series based on a Pixar film or franchise since Buzz Lightyear of Star Command in 2001. Released on Disney+ on Jul 7, season one has 10 episodes and cleverly takes place within the original Monsters, Inc. movie.
It explores the time period between Waternoose’s arrest and Mike rebuilding Boo’s door, as the factory transitions from using scream to laugh power and retrains Scarers to become Jokesters to make human kids laugh, generating power for the monster world.
This is not good for Tylor Tuskmon (Ben Feldman), a Monsters University graduate who receives his acceptance letter to become a Scarer at the factory on the first day that the transition takes place.
Tylor is thus reassigned to the Monsters, Inc. Facilities Team (MIFT), a weird bunch of monsters who all have antics and handle any mechanical problems in the company.
Throughout the season, Tylor resolves to make it to the Laugh Floor one day by becoming a Jokester while tolerating and working with MIFT in the meantime.
Meanwhile, Mike and Sulley, the main characters of the franchise and played again by Billy Crystal and John Goodman, are back as supporting characters as they are put in charge of the company.
Sulley serves as CEO and Mike serves in the self-appointed role of Senior Co-President of Monsters, Incorporated and Chief Executive Vice-Deputy Administrative Director of Comedy Resources Management, or SCPOMICE-VDADOCREM, as he puts it.
I found myself rooting for Tylor to get to the Laugh Floor and, at the same time, for Mike and Sulley not to screw up while running the company. Of course, having known what happened at the end of Monsters, Inc., I knew things would eventually turn out fine for Mike and Sulley.
More than a gap-filler though, the season has plenty of references to both Monsters University and Monsters, Inc., including mentions of how Mike and Sulley started working in the factory as mail sorters.
Episode seven, where a certain character living in the Himalayas in the original movie made an unexpected appearance on the show, showed beyond a doubt that much thought had been put into the series as a plot thread left dangling in Monsters, Inc. was finally resolved.
The last episode of the season however surprised me as Tylor is torn between staying with MIFT, having formed a close bond with them or finally becoming a Jokester (no spoilers here though!).
Sulley’s conversation with Tylor on the importance of generating power using human laughter in the last episode left me in tears because that talk made me realise that laugh power is not just a more powerful energy source than screams but is morally right, bringing kids joy instead of scaring them.
However, the biggest surprise came when the season tied itself back to the ending of Monsters, Inc., boasting redubbed lines and better animation that was a real treat to see.
The season has a proper conclusion and if this series is not renewed for a second season, I would be satisfied, though I would love to see what Disney does with a second season since it would likely take place after the events of Monsters, Inc. and allow us to find out what happens to our favourite monsters.
Overall, Monsters at Work season one is a nostalgic trip and fills in some gaps left by the original movie. A love letter to both movies, the season should appeal to both old and new Monsters, Inc. fans alike.