Television reboots have become more popular than ever in recent years, with new takes on iconic series that have ranged from awe-inspiring to befuddling. One show that has definitely fallen into the former category is DuckTales, a rebooted version of which debuted on DisneyXD in 2017. In the years since, the series has developed a following amongst fans young and old, while also adapting the stories of Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Scrooge McDuck for a modern era.
At the center of DuckTales are series creators Matt Youngberg and Francisco Angones, both of whom are television veterans with a deep love for the original series. In celebration of DuckTales' Season 3's premiere, we chatted with Youngberg and Angones about what the newest batch of episodes will bring -- and what it's been like to see the show well-received by fans of all ages. In the process, we talked about the biggest moments from the first two episodes of the season -- from the LGBTQ+ representation to the "surreal" sitcom episode to that heartwarming Goofy cameo.
ComicBook.com: One thing I love so much about Ducktales is its universal appeal. Being a fan of the original series, I feel like kids who didn't see the original can love it just as much as adults, without either audience really being talked down to. Now that you guys are a couple of seasons in, what has it been like to see the positive response to that?
Matt Youngberg: It has felt great.
Frank Angones: [laughs] It felt like a relief.
Youngberg: We’re such big fans. We wanted to make sure what we were doing was something that would relate to the fans, but it was also imperative, and a difficult challenge to be able to say “We don't want to alienate the original fans, but we also want to embrace new fans.” We want to have it be a starting point, where people who haven’t heard of Ducktales or don’t know it very well, or haven’t even thought about Ducktales. How can they get involved, and feel the love that we feel?
To know that the fans are embracing it, the fans old and new, it’s wonderful. It feels like the payoff that we were looking for.
"Challenge of the Senior Junior Woodchucks" is honestly adorable. What was your inspiration for telling that story, in particular? As somebody who was a Girl Scout for ten years, I definitely related to some of the things in the episode.
Angones: As someone who has his own Daisy Scout, it's definitely something. We knew we really wanted to incorporate the Junior Woodchucks and Junior Woodchuck war into the narrative in season three, and found some really interesting ways to do it.
But I also liked the idea of Scrooge's story in this one. He's trying to follow the adventure in a way that he thinks is right. He has a map and he thinks he's supposed to be following the same old path, the same old adventurous path. Because he's trying to follow the same old way, he's not embracing this perfectly good other adventure that seems to be presenting itself -- albeit weirder, and more annoying, with more dancing.
It didn't hit me until I was watching the finished episode. I was like, "Oh, so like us." Yeah, there's the way that this is going to go, there's a way that you expect everything to go. And so much of our show, I think, is about the surprises that come along the way and leads you to another adventure. Because that's not just what adventure is about, but it's also what family is about.
I also love that we get to see Violet's dads in the premiere. Obviously, LGBTQ+ representation is a huge topic of debate, especially in kid's TV. Frank, you've spoken on your Tumblr about the importance of handling queer storylines well, and not just feeling like you're doing the bare minimum. Now that we've met her dads in the canon of the show, is there anything more you can say about that?
Angones: I think one of the things that's important to realize, in making a series, is representation matters. We've taken that up in small ways, in big ways. It's a strange thing to treat it like it's a big deal in this day and age, I feel. While Violet's dads don't have a huge role in the episode, we're acknowledging the fact in this show about family, that there are different types of families and the kinds that you haven't traditionally seen in other shows. I think that matters. I'm not trying to get a pat on the back or anything. It's a very small thing and we can certainly be doing bigger things, addressing those ideas.
At the end of the day, our goal starting out on Ducktales season one was to make this world more representative of the world that kids see around them every day. And we did it. We had a huge push for that in terms of representation globally, and the different cultures and different character types. And then doing a lot of exploration with the Amputee Coalition, through Della and her prosthetic. I think that's just the way you have to approach every story. How can you make your world more representative of the world that kids encounter every day and don't think twice about? Even if that world is full of cartoon ducks with no pants.
What was it like kind of conceptualizing the "Quack Pack" episode? The self-awareness of it, down to the Disney Channel bumper, was so delightful.
Angones: That was a crazy one. At every step of the way, we kept asking each other "Are they going to let us do this?" I think one of the real challenges of that one was that we knew it was going to go into this interesting, crazy, Twilight Zone direction, but it wasn't going to be for a while. So, it kind of had to be what it was supposed to be. And the challenge is: how do you make it entertaining? The jokes had to be different from the types of jokes that we typically do on DuckTales, because we're a single-camera animation comedy adventure show.
How do you switch it up, while still having it feel somewhat like the characters? Bob Snowden wrote the episode, and he really took pains to make it accurate. I remember we were talking when we mixed the episode and were adding to the soundtrack, the various sound effects. You couldn't just use a regular laugh track on that episode, because the regular laugh track you tend to get, for sitcoms, is all adults. We had to go find a kid sitcom laugh track for that episode, because it just feels different.
Youngberg: I think one of our big goals with the success of DuckTales was, we love sitcoms. We're not making fun of sitcoms in it. We're saying "If this was a sitcom, how would we write it? How would the jokes play?" Even the animation and the storyboards all stem from the idea that if this is actually a sitcom. Because, when the big reveal comes of why it's a sitcom, they have to be very tuned to that reality. So when we're designing the set, it's not going to look like a big mansion, it's going to look like a small set with four walls. We kind of built on that idea. Everything was very specific.
Frank Angones: Like all the actors had to modulate between a single camera improv comedy and a multi-cam comedy style. Because it's a sitcom and we're embracing the kind of wacky "anything can happen in a sitcom" idea, we're able to throw in a lot of crazy things. That ended up being real weird and pretty disturbing and a lot of fun.
The casting of Don Cheadle as Donald was so inspired from the get-go, but I love that he gets to use his normal voice in this episode. That feels like something that could only work in a surreal subtext like this episode, and the payoff is hilarious.
Angones: I like the idea that, in Donald's head, he sounds like Don Cheadle. I don't know if that was before he got the modulator in season one, but certainly ever since then he's like, "Man that's what I sound like." No one else is hearing the way that he thinks he sounds, with confidence and gusto.
One of the really funny things is that one of Don Cheadle's first jobs was on the Golden Girls spin-off, Golden Palace, where three of the four Golden Girls ran a hotel. And so he was like, "Yeah, I know how to do this. I know how to bump the camera." It was great.
You guys have a reputation for getting really good guest stars, and obviously the Goofy cameo in "Quack Pack" was a huge example of that. Are there any other ones that you can tease for season three?
Youngberg: There are some that we definitely have put out there. Bebe Neuwirth is coming up. Stephanie Beatriz. As we saw in “Quack Pack”, Jaleel White. Adam Pally is going to be coming up. Selma Blair. We have some pretty amazing talent coming in for this season. And that’s on top of our regular cast, that is still going to be recurring, like Lin Manuel Miranda, Jim Rash…
Angones: Marc Evan Jackson playing our big villain of season three. We knew from the very first episode. Mark came in for, I think one or two lines in episode one in the very first episode in the pilot. And he was like, "Aw man, I'm just so stoked to do this." And we said, "We need you to know that we're laying the ground for you to be the big villain in season three."
He's amazing. Everything that he's in is just incredible.
Angones: He's the best. He's so, so nice, and he's just an amazing villain to write, in that he's kind of the anti-Scrooge, right? Scrooge embraces the joy of adventure and going crazy, and Bradford likes to keep everything very tightly control. And he's totally surrounded himself with a bunch of maniacal supervillains that he's going to have to try to wrangle.
But one of the cool things about all the cameos -- some of them are smaller cameos, some of them are bigger returning characters that'll come back. Sometimes like with Goofy and with Daisy Duck, you want to use the classic versions of those characters that you're going to use.
For other things, like with Kit from Talespin, to Gosalyn and some Darkwing Duck-ers coming up this season, and a couple of other people that I'm not going to spoil. It's about: if we were rebooting Talespin, how would we do it? If we were rebooting Darkwing, how would we do it? Using the same kind of creative ethos that we used to build DuckTales, and using that same critical thinking towards those other shows that we love as kids.
With Goofy, it was definitely incorporating the version of Goofy from Goof Troop with the version of Goofy from Goofy Movie. We kind of said that there's a unified theory of DuckTales, which is that every version of everything you know still exists somewhere. We're going to try to provide, no matter where you know these characters from, we're going to provide you with a version that feels updated, but recognized.
What are you guys most excited to see audiences respond to with Season 3?
Angones: We have a huge Gyro episode coming up in the first batch of episodes. I really love it. It's a great example of taking a comedic character and giving him emotional depths or exploring the emotional depths that he's just kind of been shoving away way down below the surface. I'm really excited to see how people react to that.
I'm really excited to see how people react to Darkwing and Gosalyn and Launchpad working together. As a Darkwing Duck fan from childhood, it's a dream come true to write those characters, and be able to introduce those characters to new audiences and introduce those characters to my kids.
Youngberg: One of the things that I don't want to spoil, is that we're excited to see the reaction for how we incorporate a lot of the characters into the series. It has really been a big deal for us to put these characters in there, because just as much as we love DuckTales, we love the other shows as well. So being able to put them in there and see how fans react, that’s really special. I’m really looking forward to being able to put them in there and watch fans react.0comments
New episodes of DuckTales Season 3 premiere Saturdays on DisneyXD and DisneyNOW.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.