Big City Greens, the Disney animated series about the titular Green family that moves from the country to the aptly named “Big City,” it’s garnered not only a dedicated fanbase but acclaim for both its comedy and heartfelt sincerity. At the end of last season, the Green family made the decision split their time between Big City and their re-purchased farm in Smalton. This new dynamic will be will be explored when Big City Greens Season 4 debuts this Saturday on Disney Channel.  

Ahead of the premiere, we had the opportunity to chat with he show’s creators and executive producers brothers Chris and Shane Houghton to talk new status quo, the 100th episode milestone, and Michael Bolton‘s guest appearance!

Taimur Dar: I had the pleasure of interviewing you both in person last year at New York Comic Con. One of the things I brought up was how much shows like Big City Greens were a comfort to me and so many others during the difficult last few years.

What I didn’t expect with the second half of last season of Big City Greens was how much it hit close to home. The Greens returning to their old farm and discovering familiar places and friends had changed very much mirrored my own experience coming out of lockdown and seeing friends in person for first time and not being able to connect like before.

Obviously, that’s a timeless theme but did recent events of the last few years inform or influence the last season?

Shane Houghton: Thank you for sharing that with us. I think we both feel similarly that throughout the pandemic working on Big City Greens and spending time with the Greens was very comforting. The pandemic wasn’t happening in their world and that was a nice escape for me to mentally go there as we were writing and reviewing these episodes. I’m very grateful to hear that they helped you get through that tough time. We produced all of Season 3 during the pandemic. We had always planned to move the Greens back to the country and have them explore what that is like. What we’ve learned in our own experiences is you can’t ever really go back home. You can go to that physical location, but the feelings and emotions have changed and what’s changed is you. You’re older and wiser and have more life experience. That was always the plan, but the pandemic definitely played into that.

The most pandemic related episode we did was the Christmas special in Season 3. That was supposed to come out in Christmas 2021, but I think it came out in 2022. Cricket got separated from his family and had to spend Christmas in a different location and they reunited in this virtual reality game. Cricket tried to recreate being close to his family when he couldn’t. Without the pandemic being in Big City Greens that was so relatable for everybody during that time. Christmas of 2020 was very depressing, and we all lived through that and thought, “Let’s write about that.” Even outside of the pandemic, people may not be able to spend time with their loved ones at the holidays or special events or occasions. Now we have Zoom and all these great communication tools but there is something that’s not quite the same.    

Chris Houghton: It’s funny, Taimur, you mention how the pandemic affected the writing. It reminds me early on in the pandemic we had a deliberate meeting in the writers’ room where we decided not to cover the pandemic and not have it affect this writers’ room. To your point, I think it did. We bring so much of ourselves and our own experience to the writers’ room. There’s a sweetness to the second half of Season 3 [and] I think we as writers and board artists and the whole crew were seeking out that comfort and sweetness. It’s an interesting connection you’re making because I think you can’t really separate your own life experience to make whatever it is you’re making.  

Big City Greens Season 4
BIG CITY GREENS – “Truck Stopped” (Disney)

Dar: For any successful show, it’s important to shake up the status quo but still stay true to the premise and core. What are the new story and character dynamics in Big City Greens Season 4?

Shane Houghton: In Season 4, it’s established that the Greens are now able to spend time between the city and the country. Nancy, their mom, is going to stay living in the country. Bill is going to move back in with Grandma in the city. The kids will be able to bounce back and forth. That’s really exciting for us because it opens up this new creative opportunity to blend and mix the country and city life even more. We have this huge cast of country characters we met in Season 3 and we’re going to continue meeting them and exploring Smalton.

Meanwhile back in the city, Chip Whistler is coming back as we teased at the end of Season 3. We have a lot of fun things planned with him. There are a couple of new characters who are going to stick around. The Greens meet a new family member. Gloria hires a little bit of additional help at the café so it’s not just Grandma and Gloria and Cricket working at the café anymore. There are a few new people who will pop up and stick around.  

Dar: You just mentioned Chip Whistler, voiced by Paul Scheer. We also know Scheer’s wife, June Diane Raphael, will be guest starring this season. Obviously, they’ve worked together on numerous projects. In fact, they played husband and wife in an episode of the Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur cartoon. I don’t know how much you can reveal about June Diane Raphael’s character, but can you say if it’s connected to Chip?

Shane Houghton: I don’t want to say too much but the answer will be in this first batch of episodes. You’ll have that answer pretty shortly. They’re both just such funny people. It’s a real treat to have them on the show.

Dar: Speaking of guest stars, I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up singer/songwriter Michael Bolton is in the “Jingled” episode premiering this Saturday. I’d think it’s safe to say that he’s known best for his ‘80s power ballads and/or that running gag in the movie Office Space. How did you end up getting him for this episode?

Shane Houghton: What a treat! Sometimes there is something in the air or kismet and the perfect casting happens. We just thought Michael Bolton was so funny. He has the Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special that The Lonely Island and Scott Aukerman produced. It’s just so funny. He sings in it. He acts. And he tells jokes. I don’t think people utilize him as a comedic actor sometimes because he’s so famous for his voice. So, when we had this character of Rick Razzle, a jingle writer, [we thought] it would be really funny to get Michael Bolton. We reached out and found out that Michael Bolton started as a jingle writer. He was writing jingles for all sorts of ads like the “Be All That You Can be” Army ad in the ‘90s that’s totally stuck in my brain. He was very excited to go back to his jingle writing roots. But he had some thoughts on the look of the character, the story, and some jokes. We were late in the pipeline because when we record our actors it’s a little bit down the production road. So we scrambled because these were great ideas and Michael Bolton made the episode better. So we bent over backwards and implemented all of his notes. He came in and recorded. He’s hilarious. And the episode is so much better because of Michael Bolton’s contributions. We were just so grateful. It was the perfect casting situation. He was just a treat and so generous with his time. It was great working with him.   

Big City Greens Season 4
BIG CITY GREENS – “Jingled” (Disney)

Dar: As you’ve said, each season you like to do some surreal or experimental episodes. Last season there was “Montage” and before that you had my favorite episodes with “Cheap Show” and “Animation Abomination.” What can you tease about this season’s “weird” episode?


Shane Houghton: I love that you remember that!

Chris Houghton: You’re seeing through all our secrets! Sometimes we’ll tap into a new type of episode and it’s so fun we want to try that again in a way that we’re not repeating ourselves. Like you pointed out, we have gotten in the rhythm of every ten half hour episodes we’ll do a weird meta breaking episode. Or the episodes where we’ve focused on the farm animals, and we can touch base every once in a while. To answer your question, we are currently writing a fun story that fits in line with the episodes you’ve mentioned. It’s an episode I’ve always wanted to do. It’s just silly and stupid and that is definitely my wheelhouse.

Shane Houghton: It will be the craziest one yet if we can pull it off. It will most likely be the end of Season 4 because we’re just cracking it. If “Cheap Show’ was the wackiest and fourth wall breaking type of thing we’ve done, we have an episode coming up called “Internetted” that is very different in terms of style and concept. It’s an adventure with Tilly. That’s one to look out for. Shortly after that is an episode called “Concrete Jungle” which stylistically changes what the show is for an episode. It’s so funny and delightful. It’s one of my favorites. It’s not quite in the same category as “Cheap Show.” 

Chris Houghton: Just to add, “Concrete Jungle” was written and conceived by our longest Big City Greens writer, Carson Montgomery. He’s hilarious and a genius. He just wrote his 50th Big City Greens episode which just goes to show how long he’s been on the show.  

BIG CITY GREENS – “Jingled” (Disney)

Dar: On the subject of milestones, you have the 100th episode of Big City Greens this season. I always love when shows do something special for 100th ep milestone episodes. Frasier, for instance, filmed its 100th episode on location in Seattle. What can you hype about the 100th episode for Big City Greens?  

Chris Houghton: We’re actually animating it in Seattle. [Laughs]. We went all out on the 100th episode, and it’s the half hour so we’ve actually done 200 episodes. Shane took it upon himself to write a fantastic script. I don’t want to give anything away, but I’ll say that we recently did a giant storyboard pitch internally as we do with all of our episodes. This episode in particular was exciting because it’s so ambitious. It’s going to be so hard to produce because it’s just so big and crazy. It was exciting to do the pitch and see that the rest of the crew was just as the excited as the writers and storyboard artists because now begins the long road of producing it. We can’t wait for fans to see it. It’s a great celebration of the entire series.

Big City Greens Season 4 premieres on Disney Channel on Saturday, 23rd September 2023, at 8 PM ET