The original “DuckTales” series featuring Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey and Louis first aired in 1987, and since then has become a worldwide classic phenomenon. One fan in particular lived and breathed “DuckTales” from a young age, singing the theme song in his first grade talent show. He then went on to incorporate lyrics from the theme song into his wedding vows, and lo and behold, his oldest daughter’s first word was “Woo-oo!” Francicso Angones is now the co-producer and story editor of Disney XD’s reboot of the comedy series “DuckTales.”
Matt Youngberg grew up a fan as well, drawing the beloved characters as a kid. Now, as the executive producer, Youngberg and Angones recognize the immense pressure yet exhilaration this new job brings.
One of the challenges of rebooting the beloved series was to make it engaging and fresh for the kids of today.
“I like to say that kids today can experience our entire childhoods in about a month’s worth of time,” said Youngberg. “They’ve seen so much more, they’ve experienced so much more. So now it’s old hat to do a mine cart chase. We wanted to make sure that if we’re presenting an adventure idea that’s been done before, we’re doing it from a unique perspective. The characters are driving the stories there.”
Angones agreed and talked about elevating adventure tropes to more than just a riproaring adventure.
“We talked a lot about Edgar Wright,” said Angones, referring to the director of the critically acclaimed “Baby Driver,” “Hot Fuzz,” and more. “One of the things we liked about his films is that they’re both a commentary on a specific genre or type of adventure, but they’re also really good example of that type of adventure.”
The original “DuckTales” was known for including references to things that were immediate and popular at that time, such as “James Bond,” “Indiana Jones,” and “Sherlock Holmes.” With this 2017 update, we may see “DuckTales” crossovers with universes we know very well.
“My first thought is that our parallel to ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘James Bond’ would be superheroes,” said Beck Bennett, who plays the pilot Launchpad. “There could be room for that. Otherworldly things from other planets, as opposed to mummies.”
Kate Micucci, who plays Webby Vanderquack, Scrooge’s niece-by-affection, suggested a “La La Land” episode.
“Kate is great at making and singing music. I would love to do some sort of musical episode,” said Ben Schwartz, who plays middle child Dewey. “For the pop culture reference, maybe ‘Stranger Things?’ That would be perfect because there are three of us,” he said, referring to the nephews Huey, Dewey and Louis.
“I’ll be Eleven,” added Micucci.
Schwartz then called out to Angones a table over: “Hey Frank, can we do a ‘Stranger Things’ episode?”
“Yeah, okay!” Angones shouted back. Fingers crossed to see Duckburg transformed into Hawkins, Ind. in the future!
The adventures in “DuckTales” often mirrors a kid’s imagination– mine cart sequences, pyramid chases, lost city explorations. In fact, Beck Bennett and his friends would often get into mischief with their fairly hardcore adventuring.
“We liked sneaking around and sneaking into things. It was kind of like a secret agent spy thing,” said the SNL star. “We thought we were going to be like the Goonies– we had saved up for weeks, got $60 together, went to the hardware store and got crowbars and ropes. People were like, should we call the cops? We were like 11 years old getting all these weird gear. We were serious about it. It was like the ‘Home Alone’ Goonies.”
It’s these childhood adventures that make “DuckTales” so relatable to audiences of all ages. Additionally, these iconic characters may be pretty goofy but also speak to viewers with their distinct personalities.
“I have a lot in common [with Launchpad],” said Bennett. “I’m able to laugh at my mistakes. I used to take myself more seriously and that got in my way. [Launchpad] rolls with the punches. But I think that we’re different in the fact that I have self-awareness and he has absolutely no self-awareness.”
As for Toks Olagundoye who plays Scrooge’s no-nonsense housekeeper and Webby’s grandmother, she finds she can relate to the tenacity of Mrs. Beakley.
“I would say she’s very stoic and serious. I might be like that,” said Olagundoye with a laugh. “But she’s also completely fearless, which I would like to be.”
Part of the reasons why these characters are so relatable is that the writers and creators tried to pull from their own experiences with their families and relationships.
“I come from a family of nine children, so I have a lot of experience in the sibling rivalry and interactions,” said Youngberg. “I looked at my own family. The oldest is much more type A, she wants to do what needs to be done and is always on top of everything. Then there was the middle child who would do a briefcase to school and wanted to stand out and feel different because he didn’t want to be overlooked. And then there was the youngest who likes to be overlooked because she can get away with everything. Those personality traits came into the nephews.”
Don’t miss out on the wild adventures of Huey, Dewey, Louis, and Webby when “DuckTales” premieres on Disney XD on Saturday, Aug. 12.