Chris Parnell and Kate Micucci head back to nature for Nature Cat's Nature Movie Special Extraordinaire [INTERVIEW]

The animated musical comedy returns for an all-new special, Nature Cat's Nature Movie Special Extraordinaire!
PBS Kids Nature Cat, Season 4
PBS Kids Nature Cat, Season 4 /

If you're looking for a show that encourages you and your kids to become "one with nature" then you should check out the upcoming Nature Cat's Nature Movie Special Extraordinaire, airing Monday, Apr. 22 on PBS KIDS.

The PBS KIDS animated series Nature Cat is led by the characters of Fred, a common house cat who turns into Nature Cat when his human owners are away; alongside Hal the Dog, Squeeks the Mouse, and Daisy the Bunny who accompany him as they explore different parts of nature and meet interesting animals. While the show's fifth and final season aired in 2023, the arrival of Nature Cat's Nature Movie Special Extraordinaire means that both loyal fans and new viewers will be able to continue enjoying the adventures of Nature Cat! This is not the series' first special as fans have enjoyed seeing the Nature Cat Holiday Special, and The Return of Bad Dog Bart!, just to name a few. The Emmy-nominated series comes from co-creators and executive producers David Rudman and Adam Rudman of Spiffy Pictures (Donkey Hodie).

In the special, Nature Cat and his pals realize that they've come to the end of their aptly named "Nature Curiosity List." Sir. Galahad has declared himself King and finds a desolate castle that he wants to make more beautiful by stealing from nature. It's up Nature Cat and his friends to show King Galahad that his decision is wrong.

We sat down with Chris Parnell (King Galahad) and Kate Micucci (Daisy the Cat) to learn more about the special, if they've shown their own kids the series, and how parents can engage with the important messages of Nature Cat found in the storyline of the special!

The Parent Watch: Nature Cat has had an incredible five-season run, and I'm sure this special must be exciting! What initially made you want to accept the roles of Sir Galahad and Daisy?

Chris Parnell:  I had done another part or two and the narrator during the series, and I basically am just game for whatever they offer to me. They're really fun parts, which is a bonus, but it's such a good show and such a great message and my little boys have watched it and enjoyed it so I was happy to be a part of it.

Kate Micucci:  I'm always game for whatever, too. When they approached me about this show, I thought the cast was so incredible, and as Chris was saying, the messages are really great! I'm always learning with the show as well. Whenever we'd be recording, I'd be like, “Oh, wait, that's what happens with a volcano, that's how seeds are traveling” So that's been a fun perk. I also feel like there are so many other SNL people on the show, which is pretty cool.

Parnell: I know. I'm in very good company. Knowing who the cast was didn't hurt either. It made it feel all the more inviting.

When you found out the message of the special, the premise, what did you think of that?

Micucci: As with every Nature Cat script, the message is not to take from nature. I would like to think I don't steal from nature in my own life, but I feel like I'm always learning. I think it's obviously a really great message to get across. I also think that these scripts are always so funny, and the jokes are great. This special has a really funny premise. It unravels in a really fun way. The opening sequence where they're trying to figure out what [the special] is about is really a cool, funny thing. Every message that Nature Cat has had for five seasons, I've always been like, “Yes!” This is just another one of those.

Chris, what about you? King Galahad is the antagonist in this so what were your thoughts on that?

Parnell: Well, it's fun to be the bad guy. He's a bit misguided, King Galahad, but he wants to be surrounded by nature. Ultimately, he just goes about it the wrong way, and finally, in the end, realizes the error of his ways and the way he should enjoy nature - which is, as it is, and beautiful.

You both are celebrated comedians and actors, and voiceover is just one part of your career. Have you found that parlaying your live and on-camera experiences into doing work for kids and adult animation has evolved since you started?

Micucci: I always wanted to be a voice actor, even before I knew I could be on camera because I was very shy. If you met me when I was 20, I was a super, super shy kid so I thought, “Oh, I could be a voice actress, and then they won't actually have to see my face.” So that was always a big goal of mine. Funny enough, then I started doing more on-camera stuff. I was like, “I still want to get into voiceover.” It was really, at least for me, a hard thing to break into. Once I was in that world and got to know people, it's a very small community. I feel like then you get to jump around to different shows, and it's really exciting. At least that's been my experience.  I think the thing I've learned along the way with voiceover is that I imagine all of it happening as I'm saying it. It really makes your imagination work over time in a really cool way. If I'm in the booth, I'm still “seeing” that I'm going to this castle to chase down a bush.

I'm picturing it all as it's happening in my own mind. Another fun thing is I see it one way in my imagination when we're recording, but it's also so much fun to then see it when the final product airs and go, “Oh, that's what the castle looks like!”

Parnell: I agree with all of that completely. I picture things, too, when I'm recording, and for me, it was a little hard to break into as well. I had done a little bit of voiceover work as a kid because my dad was a voiceover guy. If he needed the voice of a kid, he would have me or my sister do the voice. It wasn't until I got on SNL that the cachet of that allowed me to get a voiceover agent and start doing this stuff, which I love. At the end of the day, it's still acting. Like Kate said, picturing what's going on around you makes a big difference for me. It's great because you don't have to worry about what your hands are doing. It's very freeing. You're just focusing it all on your vocal performance, but I love it.

PBS KIDS_Nature Cat_Season 4_Episode 444_2024_Episodic Image 23
PBS Kids Nature Cat, Season 4 /

What is your relationship to the show, as you introduced it to your kids as a parent, versus being an active participant in bringing the show to life?

Parnell: Well, my older son watched it. I mean, it's the thing I find with TV shows, you have to just let them discover it and let them experience it for themselves, as opposed to trying to say, “Hey, you should watch this.” I certainly was happy when my older son found it and I would point out, "Do you know who that is?" and he'd be like, “Oh, yeah, that's you”. That's exciting and that's fun. Then, my younger son discovered it on his own via the PBS KIDS app on the TV. So I just let them take it in. I don't really guide them in terms of that, as long as what they're watching, obviously, is appropriate for them. I let them discover it on their own.

Micucci: I have a little puppet of the Daisy Bunny, so my son's introduction was when he was really little. Before he was watching TV, I would do Daisy for him with the puppet. He was like, “Oh, yeah, that's you.” He'll know that that's me, but you [Chris] got me thinking, I really should try to incorporate the lessons into actual life after watching. It's a good idea.

Do you find that you have similarities or differences with your characters? For example, for Daisy, do you feel like there are parallels between yourself and the character or is she completely opposite of you?

Micucci: Oh, yeah. I mean, I think we're both very excitable. I feel like Daisy's got more brains than I have. She's always the leader, where I'm very much like, “What are we doing now?” in my own life. I think [she’s] just a very enthusiastic character. Generally, I'd like to think of myself as being enthusiastic, too. She's so much fun to play because she goes wild. That's always really fun.

Parnell: It's fun for me because I do Galahad, and then I also do Houston. They pull from different sides of my personality. I like science, and that more bookish character [Houston] is definitely in me. Then the more flamboyant, larger than life [personality], is probably deeper inside of me, actually, but it's fun to bring that out when I play Galahad. I get to go crazy and be this nut bird - and in this movie - be a misguided nut bird!

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Nature Cat's Nature Movie Special Extraordinaire airs April 22 on PBS Kids.

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