SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched “Laser Baby’s Day Out,” the first episode of Amazon Prime Video’s “The Boys Presents: Diabolical.”
Longtime buddies and producing partners Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have been “obsessed” with Buster Keaton and Jackie Chan for the past few years, and the idea of “doing something that had no words, no dialogue and purely physical humor.” Enter the offshoot of “The Boys,” which they executive produce, Amazon’s animated shorts anthology series, “The Boys Presents: Diabolical,” which launched Friday with all eight-episodes: the first being the Rogen and Goldberg-written “Laser Baby’s Day Out.”
“We’d been messing around with some live-action movie ideas,” Goldberg told Variety. “And then when the idea to make the ‘Diabolical’ show came around, we were like, this is perfect. And then we kind of ripped off ‘Baby’s Day Out.'”
Rogen added: “We were inspired a lot by the opening of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,’ as well. Baby Herman, the scene where he’s trying to capture the baby while destroying the kitchen. It was very much inspired by things we’ve been fans of for many many years.”
“Laser Baby’s Day Out” is the premiere episode of “Diabolical,” a series of 12-14 minute episodes born from collaboration between Goldberg, Rogen, “The Boys” showrunner Eric Kripke and “Diabolical” showrunner Simon Racioppa, as well as writers like Andy Samberg, Justin Roiland, Garth Ennis (the writer of the original “The Boys” comics), Awkwafina (yes, Rogen did the voice of the drug dealer in her episode) and many others.
Every episode is penned by a different writer or writers and features a different animation style, with “classic American animated shorts” being the described aesthetic for Rogen and Goldberg’s “Laser Baby” installment. Now, being a story told in “The Boys” universe, the heartwarming tale of the titular superhuman Laser Baby and the father-like Vought scientist trying to protect her — and others from her — is pretty bloody compared to your classic Looney Tunes cartoon. But only because the first cut just looked like a typically violent Looney Tunes cartoon.
“What’s so funny is, we actually had to make it so much more gory than we thought we were going to,” Rogen said. “Because when we wrote it, it was gruesome — but then you saw it in animation and we were like, ‘Oh, it’s not that gross actually,’ because that’s what you’re used to seeing in children’s animation all the time. We actually had to really ratchet it up once we got back the first cut because it almost just looks like an actual Looney Tunes cartoon.”
To help them really make “Laser Baby’s Day Out” look and feel like a classic cartoon, the “Diabolical” producers brought in directors Crystal Chesney-Thompson and Derek Thompson, who actually have a Looney Tunes background, and they in turn signed on Julie and Steven Bernstein, composers behind “Animaniacs.” The animation studio for the episode is Snipple Animation Studios, a company that, you guessed it, worked on Looney Tunes cartoons and “Animaniacs.” So, as Rogen put it, “the exact same people who do the thing we were kind of satirizing.”
With the perfect team in place to make this vision a reality (and include a sneaky cameo of an animated Rogen), it was up to Rogen and Goldberg to craft the no-dialogue story. The goal was to do it in a way that made you care about the Laser Baby and her surrogate daddy on a deep level in a short amount of time, while that infant is wreaking bloody havoc completely by accident with her super power and the Vought team and its evil leader are trying to terminate her.
“If that relationship wasn’t something you cared about, considering there’s no dialogue, it would have just not worked,” Goldberg said. “It was very important that you wanted that baby and that man to be together.” Luckily, they are in the end, which means there is the potential for a “Laser Baby” sequel, should “The Boys Presents: Diabolical” get picked up for a second season by Amazon.
“Oh yeah, that baby’s got a lot of stuff. Meet the baby’s family!” Goldberg said. “We have many ideas. We have a ‘Laser Baby’ sequel we could do — or not, but we have an idea for a sequel.”
Rogen noted that in the potential next chapter, “They’d be a Laser Toddler.”
“Our loose rule, which totally may change, and don’t take my word for it, is maybe we’ll do one sequel but the rest should be new,” Goldberg said of ideas for “Diabolical,” which he and Rogen proudly admit is a “total ripoff of ‘The Animatrix.'” “We don’t want to be rehashing, but it would be fun to do a sequel to one.”
Rogen and Goldberg also think they could “possibly, probably, maybe” turn one of the “Diabolical” episodes into its own full-blown “The Boys” spinoff series, of which there are currently two, one being “Diabolical” and the other an untitled superhero college spinoff, which was ordered to series at Amazon last September. (Rogen and Golberg say that series from showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters has a title, but they can’t reveal it just yet.)
“We’re talking about spinoffs all the time. We’re working on numerous different ideas,” Goldberg said. “Some will not happen, some will. But I think we got more franchising to do. We can grow. We can grow like Laser Baby.”
And just like in “Diabolical,” Rogen would be happy to lend his likeness or voice to those projects — but only if called upon: “I don’t like to push myself on anybody or assume anyone wants me in their thing. I was just asked to do a voice in Awkwafina’s and I was more than happy to oblige. But I don’t need any more credit for this show or the things associated with it, but it was nice to get to participate.”