Shows and stars are always saying how much they appreciate their fans, but Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja is proving it tonight with an episode inspired by one of the show’s devotees.
The animated Disney series’ latest episode draws its inspiration from “The Ninja of Norrisville,” a song shared online by fan Morghan Prude, a 22-year-old student at Auburn University. Executive producer Scott Thomas says he and fellow series creator Jed Elinoff discovered Prude’s social media song and thought it was “really, really cool.” And with Austin & Ally star Laura Marano (who recently scored a record contract of her own) set to appear, “we thought, this is a perfect match,” Thomas says.
In the resulting episode, the Ninja hears Marano’s character Rachel performing the ode and decides to spend the day with her – but of course, things don’t go quite as planned. “It just shows how important the fanbase is to this show,” Marano says.
Prude never expected anyone beyond her friends to hear the song. She’s been watching the show for two years. (A Parks and Recreation fan, she immediately recognized Randy’s voice as Ben Schwartz (in case you weren’t sure what Jean Ralphio was busy with outside of Pawnee.) “What really drew me to the series was the quick writing style and the great voice acting,” she says. “The comedy is incredibly self-aware and there are so many great references from older movies that I love catching.” When her exercise in song-writing caught the creators’ attention, she licensed it to sell to Disney for use in the show. She also scored a semester-long internship with Titmouse Studio, which creates the series.
“This whole experience has been incredible, inspiring, and definitely life changing,” Prude says. “I’m so excited to actually see the episode.”
Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, Mondays, 8:30/7:30c, Disney