Life is like a hurricane here in… modern-day America. But in Duckburg, it’s a veritable storm of fun, adventure, and d-d-d-danger for fans awaiting Disney XD’s summer revival of DuckTales, the beloved ‘80s cartoon about Donald Duck’s nephews and their wild excursions with great-uncle Scrooge McDuck (voiced by Doctor Who’s David Tennant).
Premiering in August, the series has been carefully crafted as a familiar reboot albeit with contemporary comedy updates to the Disney Afternoon original. “One of the things we always loved about the old show was that it was this family of adventurers, but the emphasis in every episode had always been on the adventure and plotline,” says co-producer Francisco Angones. “The basic conceit of growing our show was that this is a big blended family of adventurers, so it should feel like a combination of Indiana Jones and a blended Arrested Development-style family sitcom where every character has a different relationship to one another.”
The revival sticks to its adventure-of-the-week DNA, but with a hint of season-long serialization — one big mystery of the first season involves a decade-old family secret about why Scrooge and Donald stopped spelunking together — as well as sharpened characterization for nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie (Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz, and Bobby Moynihan). “Since everyone always says ‘Huey, Dewey, and Louie’ in that exact order, we decided to make that the birth order, and by defining that, we were able to assign traits that fit,” says executive producer Matt Youngberg. “So, Huey’s the oldest, a little more responsible, a little bit brainy. Dewey wants to stand out, and wants to break out of being labeled as just one of a set of three. And Louie is happy being the youngest child — he can slip under the radar.”
Joining the pack (though decidedly not the Quack Pack), expect significantly more screen time for little Webby (Kate Micucci), Scrooge’s niece-by-affection, whom Youngberg says has “a stronger and more unique voice than she ever had before.” Angones adds, “We almost never say ‘the nephews’ or ‘the boys’ — she’s a crucial part of the adventuring team, and they really are this big, weird family. If Huey has Scrooge’s brains, Dewey has Scrooge’s guts, and Louie has Scrooge’s love of treasure, Webby has Scrooge’s heart.”
The population of Duckburg doesn’t stop there. Not even close. In addition to previously announced treats like Beck Bennett’s Launchpad McQuack and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Gizmoduck, the city is thriving with new and familiar characters — so let’s cannonball into some exclusives.
Donald Duck (Tony Anselmo)
Expect to see a lot more of this world-class walking temper tantrum in the new reboot, which bumps Donald Duck up to main cast status. “He’s been a single parent obsessively taking care of the boys, and he’s a little bit overprotective and doesn’t want to take a lot of risks, whereas so much of Scrooge’s success is based on the fact that he’s willing to take risks,” says Angones. “In our world, about 10 years ago, Scrooge and Donald used to go on these big, crazy, rip-roaring adventures, and then they stopped talking to each other, to the point where when we start our show, Huey, Dewey, and Louie don’t even know that the richest duck in the world and this legendary explorer is their great uncle.” By the end of the first episode, Donald reluctantly moves his whole family in with Scrooge, but maintains some degree of his own independence — by keeping his houseboat in the pool. (Evidence below.)
Gladstone Gander (Paul F. Tompkins)
Few things can unite Scrooge and Donald like a shared nemesis, and we find that in Gladstone Gander, a dandy old character who always irked Donald and now gets under Scrooge’s feathers, too. Angones says, “The great thing about Gladstone is that since Donald is fundamentally unlucky, Gladstone is supernaturally lucky, and so Scrooge and Donald can both agree that they hate Gladstone because he does nothing and gets everything.” (Also worth hating: Gladstone’s father’s name is Goosetave. GOOSETAVE.)
Gyro Gearloose (Jim Rash)
You’ll notice Scrooge’s in-house mad scientist has gotten a fairly hipster makeover, but neither his wild inventions nor vocal exclamations (by Community’s Jim Rash) are any less manic. While his intern Fenton (Lin-Manuel Miranda) moonlights as local superhero Gizmoduck, presumable fan-favorite Gyro Gearloose keeps the spirit of DuckTales’ crazy super-science alive.
Goldie O’Gilt (Allison Janney)
Returning as Scrooge’s longtime paramour is Goldie O’Gilt, a fellow adventurer who has a curious relationship with old McDuck. “In our adaptation, Scrooge is more of an adventure junkie than a gold addict, so we kept saying, ‘Well, if Scrooge is like Batman, then Goldie should be like Catwoman,’” says Angones. “She’s equally adventurous, every bit Scrooge’s equal, and he hates and loves that. They have this amazingly contentious relationship that’s been going on ages and ages, spanning back to the Gold Rush days.” Plus, the producers say it was David Tennant who geeked out the most about Janney joining the cast: “He heard us play a line she had recorded and he said, ‘That’s C.J. Cregg!'”
Ma Beagle (Margo Martindale) and the Beagle Boys (Eric Bauza)
The perennially annoying villains are back in full force to block Scrooge’s adventures, with beloved character actress Margo Martindale on hand to voice the maniacal matriarch of the family of genuinely idiotic criminals. Big fans will note that they actually look like dogs this time. Relatively.
Flintheart Glomgold (Keith Ferguson)
One of Scrooge’s wealthy equals in Duckburg is Scottish showman Flintheart Glomgold, whom Youngberg describes as “this kind of go-go ‘80s billionaire who made all his money from branding and getting his face on every storefront.” Angones says, “Glomgold is bigger, faster, and cheaper. An in-joke we had for him was that originally in the comics, he was South African, and then they made him Scottish in [the original] DuckTales, so we really leaned into that and decided that when Glomgold saw that Scrooge was a Scottish billionaire, he decided to be the cheap knock-off. More Scottish and even richer.”
Mark Beaks (Josh Brener)
The Silicon Valley actor adds fresh blood to the echelon of wealthy ducks that dominate the city. “We had a bunch of old money billionaires — Scrooge is the oldest money, this billionaire of the industrial revolution, and we have Glomgold — so we included somebody who’s representative of today’s billionaires, which is the tech industry billionaire,” says Youngberg. “Mark Beaks doesn’t care as much about money as he cares about status and being buzzworthy and how many followers he has.” Angones adds, “Josh Brener was so incredibly on all the time, selling and pitching. He’s a character who’s so broad and over the top, you love to be annoyed by him.”
DuckTales premieres on Disney XD this August.