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Country boy moves downtown in coming ‘Big City Greens’

Mekeisha Madden Toby
Special to The Detroit News

Los Angeles

Cricket Green is a precocious farm boy who moves to a thriving metropolis on the light and lively new Disney XD animated series “Big City Greens.”

Michigan natives Shane and Chris Houghton are two of the executive producers behind “Big City Greens.” The brothers used their eventual transition from St. Johns, Michigan, to Los Angeles — where they now live — as an inspiration to create the show, which premieres in 2018.

“Our nearest neighbors were a quarter mile down the road and our house was surrounded by corn fields,” Chris Houghton, 29, says of their rural upbringing. “I moved to Detroit for art school to attend College for Creative Studies and Shane went to film school at Florida State University before we both eventually moved out to Los Angeles.

“Living in big cities was a huge culture shock for the two of us. So we harnessed that shock and threw it into a TV show.”

The Houghton brothers began pitching “Big City Greens” to Disney in 2012 and it took four years for the network to say yes. In the meantime, the two gained experience on a number of series including Nickelodeon’s “Harvey Beaks,” on which they worked together with Shane, 32, writing and Chris grinding on the art department side. They also created and collaborated on the Image Comics comic book “Reed Gunther.”

Shane Houghton graduated from film school at Florida State University. And Chris Houghton, who attended CCS on a full scholarship, has also worked on “Gravity Falls,” “Wander Over Yonder” and “Adventure Time.” Both are married.

“Convincing a big Hollywood studio to invest in your idea is very difficult,” Chris Houghton says. “And animation is such a painfully slow process. But it’s all been worth it. We’re now seeing the series come together and it’s absolutely incredible.”

Parents Rick and Noel Houghton are incredibly proud of their sons, including the eldest, Pete. As soon as Disney XD announces an official premiere date for “Big City Greens,” the couple will be on the fastest plane to L.A., dad Rick says.

“We know how hard Chris and Shane worked to get to where they are,” Rick Houghton says. “When the show was approved, we kind of expected it because we knew the breadth and width of what they can and did do. We know the sky is the limit for them.”

Mekeisha Madden Toby is a Los Angeles-based TV critic and entertainment reporter.

‘Big City Greens’

Animated tale about a farm boy who moves to a thriving metropolis

Coming to Disney XD in 2018