INTERVIEW: Disney’s “DuckTales” reboot – Animation Scoop

INTERVIEW: Disney’s “DuckTales” reboot

Executive Producer Matt Youngberg and Story Editor/Co-Producer Francisco (Frank) Angones are well aware that they have big duck shoes as they reboot the classic animated TV series, DuckTales. But if from the initial response at ComicCon is any indication (the panel at ComicCon was well over capacity), they’re off to an encouraging start. Their show launches late-late tonight in a one-hour television movie – to be presented for 24 consecutive hours tomorrow, Saturday August 12th (beginning at midnight EDT/PDT) – on Disney XD. I sat down for a small chat with the duo:

FRANK ANGONES: DuckTales means so many things to so many people. It’s the original series, the Carl Barks comics, the Donald, Huey, Louie and Dewey cartoon shorts and so on. Everybody has a different access point to these iconic characters. We want to try to pay homage to all of that while pushing it in a direction for today’s kids.

GREG EHRBAR: How do you set up the premise in the pilot film?

FRANK: For one thing, Scrooge and Donald haven’t talked for years. Huey, Louie and Dewey don’t even know that Scrooge is their great-uncle. Here’s this amazing adventurer who’s had this rich, full life of epic quests.We wanted the three younger ducks to be the surrogates for this new generation of viewers.

MATT YOUNGBERG: We knew we had to include Webby Vanderquack, her grandma Mrs. Beakley and Launchpad McQuack, all of whom came from the original series. But Webby and Mrs. Beakley didn’t get much to do before. So one of things we hit on was, if you are the richest person in the world, why wouldn’t the person who takes charge of your house also be your bodyguard? If you have a bunch of Beagle Boys wanting to break into your house every day, wouldn’t you want someone there to kick them out? Mrs. Beakley became that line of defense for Scrooge.

FRANK: So Beakley is trained in all kinds of martial arts, and like almost everyone, has a secret history with Scrooge. And since Beakley deals with these dangers on a daily basis, she trains Webby in self-defense. And since Webby lives in Scrooge’s mansion, surrounded by cursed artifacts, maps and books about his legendary life, she’s not only going to become a skilled fighter, she’s also going to become the ultimate McDuck fan-girl and clan biographer. But up until the boys arrived, she had never been given the chance for adventure, so now the whole family can face McDuck’s world together.

GREG: One of the things that did impact the original series was that the use of Donald had been restricted to occasional appearances. In the comics, Donald participated in most of the adventures. And because Scrooge became the father figure on TV, he couldn’t be quite as prickly and parsimonious as Barks depicted him. So it’s safe to assume that Donald’s presence as a regular character will open things up between him and Scrooge.

FRANK: Yes, that’s one of the great things. Scrooge can naturally be a little more cantankerous and gruff. David Tennant is one of those extraordinary actors who can be go from cartoony, over the top madness to an expression of gravitas that’s just so lovely.

GREG: We all still miss Alan Young though, who passed only a few months ago. Alan voiced Scrooge for decades on TV, theme parks and records–he really deserves to be named a Disney Legend. A lot of people would agree though, that getting David Tennant to play Scrooge is a real coup. He’s one of today’s most versatile actors. I listen to a lot of BBC Radio dramas and he does fine work there, too.

FRANK: Alan Young was Scrooge McDuck, for all intents and purposes. When we write the show now, it takes a lot of time to shake Alan’s voice from our heads. He brought natural warmth to Scrooge and to the family that wasn’t always present in the Barks comics. The original series had tons of adventure, comedy and heart–which of course is our goal as well–but we also have an opportunity to focus on relatable family dynamics—what does it mean to be a triplet, how do families differ in their makeup, things like that.

MATT: We’re very proud of how diverse our writing staff is. Each brings something unique to the show. The show isn’t in my voice or Frank’s voice, it’s the voice of all of the writers breaking stories together. Every board artist, designer, director, the cast, we all talk to each other nonstop. That’s one of the things I’m most proud of.

The DuckTales premiere TV movie, “Woo-oo!” (a nod to the catchy theme song) aires tonight for 24 consecutive hours on Disney XD starting at midnight. Two new episodes premiere September 23rd on Disney XD, the Disney XD app and Disney XD VOD.

Executive Producer Matt Youngberg and Story Editor/Co-Producer Francisco (Frank) Angones. (Disney XD/Craig Sjodin)

Greg Ehrbar

Greg Ehrbar

Greg Ehrbar is a freelance writer/producer for television, advertising, books, theme parks and stage. Greg has worked on content for such studios as Disney, Warner and Universal, with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. His numerous books include Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney (with Tim Hollis). Visit for more.
Greg Ehrbar
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  • MegaChaosGelee

    The pilot was great. Liked it very much. Definitely looking forward to more.

    I grew up on the Italian branch of the comics actually (translated into German xD), and there, Donald was also always with the rest of the bunch, going on adventures. It’s very fitting to expand his role on the new show. The same is true for the changes they made to Webby and Beakley – it was necessary and it works.