September 6, 2021
Voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Ben Feldman, Mindy Kaling, Henry Winkler, Lucas Neff, Alanna Ubach, Bonnie Hunt, Curtis Armstrong, Jennifer Tilly, Bob Peterson, Stephen Stanton, John Ratzenberger.
The “Monsters at Work” animated series streaming on Disney+ is a delightful continuation of the franchise that started with Pixar’s 2001 film Monsters, Inc.
The film focused on a world of monsters and a power plant that harnessed the screams of children to power the city. Two of the monsters, Mike and Sulley (voiced by Billy Crystal and John Goodman) eventually learn that the laughter of children is 10 times more powerful than screams.
“Monsters at Work” serves as a sequel to the film, showing how the power plant transitioned from scream power to laugh power. It also cleverly weaves together bits of world-building not only from the original film, but also its 2013 prequel, Monsters University, which focused on Mike and Sulley’s time in college.
While the show does continue the adventures of Mike and Sulley, the focus is primarily on a different department of the power plant, the Monsters Incorporated Facilities Team (MIFT), which is tasked with the maintenance of the equipment used to collect the power.
The main character is Tyler Tuskmon (voiced by Ben Feldman), who just graduated from Monsters U. and was recruited to join the Monsters, Inc. scare team just before the events of the first film. On his first day he learns of the transition to laugh power, but being a scarer and not very funny, he is assigned to the MIFT team.
Meanwhile, Mike takes charge of recruiting a new team of “jokesters” to replace the scarers who are now obsolete, and begins teaching comedy classes, which Tyler attends as he yearns to move out of the MIFT basement.
The 10-episode first season details Tyler’s adventures with his fellow MIFT employees, which occasionally intersect with Mike and Sulley’s attempts to keep the plant afloat using laugh power. The show actually takes place during the epilogue of the first film, so it could be considered a bit of a sidequel as well.
Episodes two through nine also include a brief “Mike’s Comedy Class” vignette that gives the show a chance for more gags.
The series ties in well with established “Monsters” lore while making its own worthwhile contributions to the canon, which should entertain kids and make any fan of the franchise happy.