A 12-year-old lover of science. A nearly indestructible worm from the future. A time machine lunch box. The result? A rip-roaring wacky adventure through the folds of space and time in Disney XD’s latest show, “Future-Worm!” in which every episode is split into three shorts: 11 minutes, 7 minutes, and 3 minutes.
For Emmy-award winning Future-Worm! show creator Ryan Quincy of “South Park” fame, the animated series is a dream come true. He grew up loving cartoons, but diving into animation as a career only clicked after an injury prevented him from realizing his professional surfing dreams. In fact, to commemorate the life-changing event, Quincy has a photograph on his desk of himself in the hospital, spellbound by cartoons.
“When it came time to make my own show, I just tapped into the kid that I was,” said Quincy on inspiration for his shows. “I took all the ingredients from the shows I liked as a kid and threw them into this big soup. This is Future-Worm! It is celebrating that time as a kid in love with cartoons. Now I get to make that for other kids.”
Quincy had always wanted to indulge in the time travel genre, a storytelling device that allows endless possibilities such as the freedom of having a do-over, meeting your older self, or witnessing dinosaurs. The character Future-Worm is in fact the result of genetic experimentations by scientists in the future, complete with modifications such as Titanium-Reinforced Abs and a Bullet-Proof Beard.
“I wanted to create a time travel show that a 12 year old could appreciate,” said Quincy. “[These characters] use time travel for selfish reasons—can’t wait for a new movie to come out? Let’s go to the future and see it now. Or you can redo an embarrassing moment in your life. They’re not changing history—it’s more self-serving business.”
These characters indeed use time travel to their sole benefit—in “Terrible Tuber Trouble,” Danny and Future-Worm use the lunch box time travel machine to redo their cooking disasters to hilarious results.
“I love the characters the most. When you’re doing the show like this and you do 60 stories, you have to love these characters because you’re spending a lot of time with them. They’re like family,” said Quincy. “You have to be really invested in them and their adventures. I want to hang out with these guys—I want to hang out with Danny and Future-Worm. That’s the main thing: they have to be rich characters you want to root for and hang out with.”
The two characters, voiced by Andy Milonakis and James Adominan respectively, are inseparable friends—a chemistry furthered by the actors’ liberty to ad-lib.
“They’ll come up with stuff that’s better than lines we’ve racked our brains for four months. We totally welcome that,” said Quincy, saying that their relationship fit in with the nature of the show—spontaneous, loose, off-the-cuff.
Quincy praised the cast for adding so much personality to the show and making each character come alive. The show’s special guests are also invaluable, including astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson as himself, helping Danny on his science journeys.
“We couldn’t believe he would be part of the show. He was really excited,” said Quincy. “There’s an undercurrent of science…The fact that Danny has ‘Science’ [written] on his shirt is an entry point for kids to be turned on by science. And the fact that Neil deGrasse Tyson is on the show is another entry point for kids to start asking questions.”
Because the target audience is composed of kids of all ages, Quincy relies heavily on his children’s feedback.
“I definitely pick their brains,” explained Quincy. “My son is 12 and my daughter is 9. I’ll show them things…[they’ll tell me] Future-Worm should probably say this, or maybe this… I don’t only get notes from the executives I get them from my own family. I ask them, if you had a time machine lunch box, what would you want to do?”
Quincy shows them nearly every part of the process, from animatics to the nearly finished product. This push for excellence was ingrained in him from his time at South Park.
“On South Park I learned a lot about storytelling. You’re always [saying], is this good enough? Or let’s try to beat this joke. Is this character’s story tracking? … How can we make it better? How can we plus it? I learned so much from [South Park] in that regard—always making it the best you can up till the last second. I feel like your best ideas come at the 11th hour.”
With South Park under his belt, Quincy developed his own show called “Out There” on IFC, a challenge that taught him how to juggle creator responsibilities.
“You can’t say, I’m going to sleep on it,” said Quincy. “You have to be able to make a decision and just go with the next thing. Once production starts, the assembly line is going. There’s deadlines and air dates and you’re trying to put the last cherry on top on the finish product and you can’t second guess yourself.”
With Future-Worms!’s format of three shorts every episode, the show creator certainly faces a daunting challenge. However, with all of Season One shorts already scripted, audiences can look forward to out-of-this-world adventures from some of the most creative minds in Hollywood.
Catch Future-Worm! on Mondays at 11:00am on Disney XD.