Ever since the launch of Disney+ back in 2019 the House of Mouse has done an admirable job of keeping new takes on their fan favourite franchises rolling off the production lines. Just a few highlights include the Star Wars redeeming series The Mandalorian and the marvellous Marvel shows, like the pleasingly weird WandaVision and new time-bending sci-fi series Loki.
The latest to clock in for Disney+ duty are Pixar's popular Monsters, Inc monsters, who return on Wednesday in their very own spin-off series Monsters at Work. This is a workplace comedy set immediately after the events of that classic 2001 movie.
Both the original film and its 2013 prequel Monsters University were hugely entertaining and filled with that patented Pixar magic that manages to enthral young viewers and the old-of-age but young-at-heart. Monsters at Work, less so.
What's surprising about the show is just how workmanlike it is. There's laughs here and there sure, but it's lacking spark and you never feel that infectious hit of creativity that powers Pixar's best work.
Some of this comes down to the fact that the spin-off has spun-off its best characters. The franchise's stars, fuzzy blue brute Sully and hyperactive green monster Mike, have been demoted from top billing to side characters.
Instead of running the show, their antics power the B-plot of the series which sees the pair being promoted at Monsters, Incorporated and overseeing the changeover from harvesting children's screams to collecting their more resource-intensive laughs instead.
This is not a smooth transition as the old hands at the company struggle to adapt to the new demands of their position. Tempting as it is to identify metaphor from this scenario I genuinely don't believe Monsters at Work is commenting on how technology's steady march forward eventually leaves us all outdated and functionally obsolete.
Or, less grim and closer to Pixar's home, referencing how they themselves pioneered and led the seismic transition from traditional hand-drawn animation to 3D computer animation that's now the industry norm.
No, I think the series isn't aiming much higher than just generating a few of those kids' laughs for itself.
Children should love it and parents and caregivers will be entertained enough. There's some good running gags, like one character's detailed descriptions of the increasingly grisly fates monsters have met working at the company, but the humour does skew more simplistic than fans of the original movie - or Pixar in general - may expect.
As you'd hope and expect, the animation is clearly a tier above a lot of the shows that kids watch these days. But there's no getting around the fact that it doesn't truly live up to the Pixar name - although a frantically big action sequence in the second episode gets close and is impressive.
As is the fact that Disney shelled out to have John Goodman and Billy Crystal return to voice Sully and Mike respectively. The show comes alive every time Crystal's given the opportunity to enthusiastically motormouth his way through a scene.
But for the most part the show is focused on its new batch of monsters, specifically the long-horned new recruit Tyler Tuskmon, whose dream of becoming a Monsters, Inc scarer is dashed when the company pivots to being jokesters on his very first day. Having trained only in scaring and with no comedy skills, he's quickly reassigned to the basement-dwelling Monsters, Inc. Facilities Team, who are sort of like the company's IT Department.
Disney spared no expense recruiting talent for the roles in MIFT, notably enlisting Mindy Kaling and the Fonz himself, Henry Winkler, to bring this new batch of misfits to life. Their voice work elevates the questionable character design.
Unfair as this may be, I was always less interested in Tuskmon's woes fitting in, making friends and earnestly accepting his new career path, than I was in catching up with what Mike and Sully were up to. The pair are a fantastic double act and the series doesn't really pull off replacing that with a straight man - sorry, straight monster - surrounded by a group of comedic eccentrics.
Monsters at Work's workplace setting is more relatable to us working stiffs than our younglings, and the show is certainly entertaining enough to watch with them, but throughout its first two episodes I couldn't help but feel like the show's old monster who was stuck in his scaring ways and struggling to adapt to Monsters, Inc's new way of doing things.