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Friday, August 11 2017 14:19

The Return of The World's Greatest Adventurers... DuckTales!

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This Special Feature is presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™ and The Walt Disney Company

There's a moment in the premiere episode of Disney XD's DuckTales in which Donald rolls up to the estate of Scrooge McDuck, his nephews along for the ride. From the back seat, Huey, Dewey and Louie can't believe where they're at - and have seemingly never met their great-uncle. In fact, to them, Scrooge seems to be a legend - a mythical figure whose status is not unlike that of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Just as Rey learned from Han Solo that the stories were true - "all of them," the boys soon realize that when it comes to Scrooge, the stories were also true - most of them. After taking a real-life leap into Scrooge's famed "money bin" at this summer's D23 Expo, I took an early look at the new series alongside Executive Producer Matt Youngberg and Co-Producer/Story Editor Francisco Angones. The sneak-preview prompted a few questions...

Having established that 2017's DuckTales is very much inspired by the original adventures that ran from 1987-1990, we know that Scrooge and Donald were an incredible team of legendary explorers... but sans the fact that we're in a different timeline and starting over, what happened to make Scrooge stop exploring, and why did he and Donald grow apart and end up on such vastly different paths?

"We should really do that," said Angones. "You signed an NDA, right? Anything that’s said in here is the property of the Disney Television Animation?" With a chuckle, he notes that what I've stumbled into is "actually one of the main mysteries of DuckTales. We’ve gotta solve mysteries and rewrite history. So one of the main mysteries over the course of the first season is why did that happen? Why did the boys never talk to their great uncle? Why, if they were an adventuring team, did that fall apart? There's some hints of that even in the next episode. "

On the surface, DuckTales is a fun adventure, but part of the charm is that there's actually depth to the story and world, and the new DuckTales makes that world bigger and more detailed than the original series, pulling elements from the old series, the comic books, and even the cult classic video game. While modern, there's a hand-drawn look, right down to the appearance of pulp if you look closely. Regardless of era, the creators want the efforts to be timeless, and at the heart of that is a story about family - and that goes right back into questioning why they'd grown apart. 

"I think thematically we really look at what it means to be a family," said Youngberg. "Thematically a part of that is where did we come from - what’s our family’s story? In this first season, that's something that you really find out a lot more about."

Watching the premiere, there's a lot of little nuances that are pretty fun - Donald carries a modern smartphone, while Scrooge (frugal as ever) still has a flip-phone (why upgrade?), albeit one in gold. Still, McDuck does find himself in the sector of the Elon Musk's and Mark Cuban's of the world."DuckTales has all of these rival wealthy billionaire types that are industrialists," explains Angones. "One of the things we love is that they always upstage one another - Scrooge’s rivals for the new age." There's several at play, including a "go-to 80s billionaire," along with a new character that the crew is really excited about -  Mark Beaks, "a tech billionaire who cares more about buzz than bucks." Angones adds that Beaks "is constantly trying to sell the next big innovation, and  he’s the one person that Scrooge and Glomgold [another rival] hate more than each other."

The revamped DuckTales will premiere in a one-hour television movie to be presented for 24 consecutive hours, SATURDAY, AUGUST 12 (beginning at midnight EDT/PDT), on Disney XD. Then, the series will debut with two new episodes SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 (7:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., 10:30 p.m. EDT/PDT)

Disney XD's DuckTales features a voice cast that includes David Tennant ("Doctor Who") as Scrooge McDuck, Danny Pudi ("Community") as Huey, Ben Schwartz ("Parks and Recreation") as Dewey, Bobby Moynihan ("Saturday Night Live") as Louie, Kate Micucci ("Garfunkel and Oates") as Webby Vanderquack, Beck Bennett ("Saturday Night Live") as Launchpad McQuack, Toks Olagundoye ("Castle") as Mrs. Beakley and Tony Anselmo ("Mickey Mouse") as Donald Duck.

Recurring guest voices include Lin-Manuel Miranda (Broadway's "Hamilton," Disney's "Moana" and "Mary Poppins Returns") as Duckburg's favorite hero Gizmoduck (his alias is Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera), Allison Janney ("The West Wing") as Scrooge's old flame Goldie O'Gilt, Margo Martindale ("The Americans") as the ruthless villain Ma Beagle, Paul F. Tompkins ("Bajillion Dollar Propertie$") as lucky duck Gladstone Gander, Kimiko Glenn ("Orange Is the New Black") as well-traveled teen Lena, Jim Rash ("Community") as mad scientist Gyro Gearloose, Josh Brener ("Silicon Valley") as tech billionaire Mark Beaks, Keith Ferguson ("Gravity Falls") as Scrooge's archenemy Flintheart Glomgold, Eric Bauza (Marvel's "Ultimate Spider-Man") as Beagle Boys and Corey Burton ("Star Wars Rebels") as scientist Ludwig Von Drake.

Learn more: http://disneyxd.disney.com/ducktales

James Zahn

James Zahn is not a journalist, nor a blogger, though he may be credited as such by others, or even accept the title... depending on the circumstance.  Instead, he considers himself largely to be an "entertainment and lifestyle writer," bringing 25+ years of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries into the family realm as THE ROCK FATHER™.

As a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur, James now finds himself raising a pair young girls - The Rock Daughters™ - along with his wife from their Illinois home.

He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, a writer for the Netflix #StreamTeam, and serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. Current special projects include promotional campaigns for PJ Masks (eOne/Disney Junior) and Beat Bugs (Netflix). 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for Napalm Records' PRODUCT OF HATE.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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