LOS ANGELES – Even though she was one of the show’s stars, Millie Davis doesn’t remember much of the first season of “Odd Squad.”
“I guess I was just excited to be there,” she says with a smile.
She was 7 when she started and now, at 13, she’s the only main character still on the show.
The reason? “I think it’s super important to keep a consistent character because the cast changes so much,” Davis says. “Kids want that one familiar face they can always look to.”
Her Ms. O, for those unfamiliar, is the leader of the Odd Squad, a group of kids who solve problems by using math skills. They travel by tubes to get to their destinations and often have to go to headquarters or the “Mathroom” where they can find logical connections.
Ms. O assigns them cases and, on occasion, barks orders.
“As a 7-year-old, being bossy was probably an easy thing to do,” Davis says. “The thing I love about her is she has never been mean…just bossy.”
This season, she’ll be known as “The Big O,” an even more important figure in the “Odd Squad” hierarchy. “For me, she’s such an important character because she’s a girl of color in a high position of power,” she says. “It was super important for ‘Odd Squad’ to keep that.”
Agents rarely stay beyond a year or two on the show but each has a name that begins with an “O” and a distinct personality.
In the new edition, Opal “is very competitive and serious at times,” says Valentine Herrera, who plays her. “I feel Iike I’m really competitive, too.”
Orla, played by Alyssa Hidalgo, “is independent. But I think there’s a big difference,” she says. “She’s more serious than I am in real life.”
Conversely, Omar, never takes anything seriously. “That’s me to a T,” says Jayce Alexander, the actor who plays him. “He’s happy-go-lucky and I am, too. I just like being around kids.”
Oswald, the last new agent, reads a lot, according to Gavin Maciver-Wright. “I like to sit down and read, but he’s good at overcoming stuff. He’s scared of stuff, but you can overcome that. That’s one of my strengths – it’s really amazing.”
Davis says it’s fun to welcome new castmates, but it is difficult to say goodbye to those who leave. “It’s like saying goodbye to my closest friends. I’m still in touch with some of them. Anna Cathcart (Agent Olympia, from Season Two) always sends me birthday messages.”
Most of the “Odd Squad” graduates have stayed in the business. If they haven’t, Davis says, “they have acting as a side gig. With school, it’s hard to manage everything.”
The series, which is shot in Canada, takes more time to film than viewers might think. Season One, Davis says, lasted 15 months. Season Three clocked in at seven months. The cast shot a movie in the middle of Season Two (which Davis considers part of “Season Two-and-a-half”), which was spread over three years.
Now, the process is so refined Davis says she’s able to audition for other roles. “My contract has definitely allowed me to do other things,” she says. “The producers have been good about working around my schedule.”
A fan of the series, Maciver-Wright says he always wanted to be on the show. “They even watched it at my school,” he adds.
Among the first “Odd Squad” assignments: Finding a signature pose. Davis can assume hers without prompting. The others say much depends on their character.
“You have an instinct of what you should do,” Maciver-Wright says. And, true to form, he can slip into agent mode.
“He’s so energetic,” Davis says.
“I’m the troublemaker,” Maciver-Wright admits.
“Odd Squad” returns for its third season Feb. 17 on PBS.
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