Discussing Disney XD New Show Future-Worm! with Creator Ryan Quincy
I have to admit when the new Disney XD show Future-Worm! was added to our itinerary for #TheBFGEvent I wasn’t sure what to expect. It looked like a show my kids would like, but I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it. Honestly as parents we all have those moments when our children are invested in a show, and we’re not so thrilled. Our final day of the trip arrived and it was time to head to Disney Toon Studios to learn about the show from creator Ryan Quincy. We walked in the screening room and I was immediately intrigued.
Future-Worm! is an animated series about an optimistic 12-year-old who invents a time machine lunch box through which he meets and befriends a fearless worm from the future (one with titanium-enforced abs). Created and executive-produced by Emmy Award-winning director Ryan Quincy (“South Park”), the comedy follows young Danny Douglas and Future Worm (also known as Fyootch) as they embark on adventures through space and time. The characters were introduced last year in a popular “Future-Worm!” short-form series on Disney XD and Disney XD’s YouTube Channel.
Each unique episode includes an 11-minute main story and supporting subplot, a 3-minute runner sketch and a 7-minute sitcom style story.
You may know Ryan from his work on South Park, he worked on the show for fourteen years. When his children started asking about seeing the shows he was working on, Ryan knew it was time for a chance. Future-Worm! was the show he felt he could share with his children, and enjoy together as a family. After the screening of the first episode, we had the opportunity to interview Ryan Quincy about the show. Here’s some of the things we chatted with Ryan about during the interview.
Are you doing an origin story?
Ryan Quincy: There were five shorts that we did last summer, five 90 second shorts – Future-Worm! shorts. Some of the origin is in that. With the series, we want to just hit the ground running, and over the course of the season, there’ll be some callbacks to some of that. Basically, what happened was, Danny created this time machine lunchbox, sent it so far into the future that these future scientists found it, opened it up, and some of Danny’s lunch was in there, there was an apple in there that happened to have a worm in it.
And they put it through their genetic escalator, and gave him all these attributes. Like, the bulletproof beard, the photo receptor visor, and the 24 titanium-enforced abs. Then they sent Future Worm back, you know, to hang out with Danny. That’s kind of in a nutshell, the origin of how they met.
Have your kids seen the show, and do they like it?
Ryan Quincy: Oh, they love it. And they’ve even given some notes, too. So not only do we get notes from the execs, which those are great. My kids also give little notes. There’s a line that Future Worm had, of like, “I love shoestring fries”? Before, it was like, “I hate shoestring fries.” And my son was like, you know what, it should be “I love shoestring fries.” Future Worm should love those. So, we made that fix. But they love it. It’s been fun to share it with them.
What was the inspiration behind Future-Worm!?
Ryan Quincy: When I came over to Disney to develop something, what was so liberating about the marching orders was, make a show that you always wanted to make. And I always loved, you know, time travel, and adventure shows, and I’m good friends with Justin Roiland, who did Rick and Morty, and when we were talking I said, I think I want to do a time travel show. He’s like, well, if you’re gonna do that, you know, there’s always the rules you have to deal with.
And then I was like, do you, though? I don’t know if you do — maybe it’s a show that the characters kind of say ah forget the rules, and just kind of barrel ahead. And that was really sort of the inspiration of doing sort of this self-indulgent time travel. Plus you will see that not every episode is time travel. There’s other adventures, too.
Will Bug go on any adventures?
Ryan Quincy: That’s kind of the big frustration for her, there’s sort of this prophecy that a future version of Danny comes and, who’s voiced by Paul Williams, and says, you can’t take her into the future, because when she goes in the future, the whole universe implodes. So she’s really frustrated, and they know that they can’t take her on these adventures. But there’s a nice arc that you’ll see over the course of the season, where we deal with that. She’s gonna try her hardest.
Did you have a design in mind for the characters when you created the show?
Ryan Quincy: I started with just the name, Future Worm. That just sounded funny to me. And, it started with the name, and it was like of course, if his name is Future Worm, he has to be a time traveler. So it just started there, and I started thinking about the stuff that I loved as a kid, like I loved pro wrestling, I liked Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, Ultimate Warrior, Mr. T., and Chuck Norris. All that stuffgot thrown into the suit.
That was all the DNA’s of all that, and also just wanting, that sidekick, that Chewbacca or ET, that would be walking down the halls at school, or having your back. So, that was really the whole inspiration of the character. And I just started drawing worms with beards and weird hairstyles.
For Danny I thought about when I was a kid. I was a little bit on the chubby side, but, I also kind of had, a weird confidence, that I wanted Danny to have – he’s just comfortable in his skin, you know? And I used to wear a captain’s hat that I got at Disneyland, so that kind of inspired that look. I wasn’t so much into the science side of things. I was more into art, and drawing, comic books, and making movies. But I thought it’d be fun to have a kid that’s really into science, and playing with that aspect of stuff.
So, I just started drawing those characters, and it just felt very natural, very organic, how they came to be.
So you drew the characters?
Ryan Quincy: Yeah, I designed the characters, I designed all the characters. Now we have an amazing staff that can draw better than I can. They do a great job.
How long does an episode take?
Ryan Quincy: We started on this last January, and the assembly line just turned on, and it’s just all overlapping. So everyday I am working on some part of the process, I’m either at a voice record, or I’m, looking at the first storyboard of an episode, and then at the next meeting, and it’s like we have color, we have animation. So it’s just a scatter-brained, multitasking kind of thing. I really don’t know how long it takes. Dan, our line producers? What do you think?
Dan: It takes a long time.
Ryan Quincy: It’s a labor of love. I’ve watched all three of these episodes in some shape or form, for the last year, year and a half. I’ve probably seen them, like, 500, 600 times. But I still laugh at the same places, and yeah it’s a labor of love.
How many people did you see before Andy Milonakis?
Ryan Quincy: Andy was my first choice. He was my first choice to be this character, do this voice of this character. He’s fantastic. He does such a great job. He brings such a great energy to the character, and just, I love Andy. He’s great.
How do you come up with ideas for each episode?
Ryan Quincy: It’s a lot of fun. Going into the writers’ room is some of the most exciting times on the show, is like, what are we, what stories are we going to tell? There are no rules. That’s kind of like, our thing, it is a time travel show, but it’s, that’s sort of more of the backdrop. It’s more about these two best friends. And we kind of use the core of it all.
On one had we have Future Worm has seen everything, he’s been everywhere. He could hang out with anyone in any time period, and he chooses to hang out with Danny. And that says a lot about Danny’s character. And Danny was always kind of looking for, a sidekick, or someone to have his back through all these adventures. And so they’re kind of like, they complete each other. So that’s the core, heart and soul of the show. And, they just, not to sound cheesy about it, or cliché, but it does, it doesn’t write itself, but it just feels like, you have these strong characters, that they kind of, you know their voices, and that helps so much, to have that character-driven stuff.
How do you pick the three chapters for each episode?
Ryan Quincy: We were very mindful of what we paired together. Like we see the parents in the 11-minute here. Then we see Bug in the seven-minute. And then the next one, we’re very strategic about how we, we plan those out, and space ‘em out. And then for our holiday episode we will have two 11-minutes. And then our finale will be a big whopping 21 minutes. So, a nice big finale.
Is there any significance to the lunch box?
Ryan Quincy: Yeah, that metal lunchbox, I had so many of those, like, the Star Wars ones, and the GI Joe, you name it, I had every one. That was so exciting. So I thought that would be a fun vehicle for them to travel in, a lunchbox.
After the interview the Disney team surprised us with our very own Future-Worm! metal lunch boxes, inside were t-shirts, and a pack of gummy worms. They had animators from the show customize the back of our lunch boxes with drawings of characters from the show.
I ended up with Future Worm and Danny drawn on mines. Ryan personally drew Danny on mines and autographed it for me. We wrapped up taking to him about the episode we screened while waiting around to see what everyone had chosen for their lunch boxes.
“Future-Worm!” stars Andy Milonakis (“Kroll Show”) as Danny; James Adomian (“Comedy Bang! Bang!”) as Future Worm; Jessica DiCicco (“Gravity Falls”) as Bug; Melanie Lynskey (“Two and a Half Men”) as Danny’s mom, Megan Douglas; Ryan Quincy as Danny’s dad, Doug Douglas; and Corey Burton (“Jake and the Never Land Pirates”) as the Narrator. Recurring are astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson as himself and Jonathan Frakes (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) as Steak Starbolt.
Future-Worm! premieres August 1st at 11 AM/ET on Disney XD. Be sure to tune in for this fun new show.