"No Activity" "No Activity"

Animation, as they keep saying, is having a moment. Unions are encouraging writers to pivot to the industry from live action. Animation studios are expanding as a result of remote working. Live-action shows are turning to animation to complete episodes. And now, remarkably, a series has entirely converted from live action to animation.

No Activity, the formerly live-action comedy about hapless detectives, will return for its fourth season as a fully animated show. The leads, Patrick Brammall and Tim Meadows, will return to voice their characters on the CBS All Access series.

Brammall and Trent O’Donnell, who both developed and executive-produce the show, said: “We couldn’t be more excited for the opportunities animation will open up for the No Activity universe. We love drawing and have always wanted to express ourselves creatively in that medium. Then the network saw our drawings and said they would be more comfortable hiring actual animation people. Our feelings were hurt but we’re still very excited.”

The animation is being done at Flight School Studio, a Dallas, Texas-based studio that was born from the merger of Moonbot Studios and Reel FX’s vr/ar team. No Activity is produced at CBS Studios with Funny or Die, Jungle Entertainment, and Gary Sanchez Productions.

As live-action shoots were canceled early in the pandemic, several live-action series incorporated animation as a means to complete an episode or special, including ABC’s Black-ish, Pop TV’s One Day at a Time, and NBC’s The Blacklist. The No Activity producers’ decision represents the logical extension of that trend. Animation production, of course, has continued since March with relatively low risk and few difficulties.

The shift in medium raises some interesting questions. Will the tone or narrative change significantly as a result? What do the producers mean by “the opportunities animation will open up”? We’re curious to see how the writers’ room changes — after all, successful writing for animation and live action are different skills.

The show’s transition also reflects priorities at ViacomCBS, which is ramping up its adult animation programming. CBS All Access, which is due to be relaunch next year as Paramount+, has recently welcomed new animated series like Tooning Out the News and Star Trek: Lower Decks, while the conglomerate’s new Adult Animation Unit is at work on reboots of classic shows like Beavis and Butt-Head and Clone High.