If you haven’t noticed already, the programming on Disney XD is getting downright weird, in the best possible way. Currently airing on the channel is Gravity Falls, one of our favorite shows on television (period) that dazzles and delights with its combination of elaborately developed mythology and riveting serialized storytelling. (It’s basically Twin Peaks for kids who aren’t old enough to have discovered Twin Peaks.) And Star vs. the Forces of Evil feels like something genuinely revolutionary, with its juxtaposition of a sunny fairy tale princess and dark fantasy elements. Plus there’s Wander Over Yonder, a cuddly space epic whose design aesthetic seems to have been inspired largely by psychedelic prog rock album covers from the 1970s. And that’s just what’s on right now.
Coming later this year is Pickle & Peanut, which follows a pickle (voiced by Jon Heder) and a peanut (Johnny Pemberton) as they get into a series of comic misadventures. (The pickle and peanut are live action and everything else is animated. adding to its hallucinogenic charm.) And then there’s Future-Worm!, the brand new series from Emmy-winner Ryan Quincy (a veteran of South Park) that focuses on Danny (Andy Milonakis), a precocious 12-year-old who befriends Future Worm (James Adomian), an in-your-face worm from the future. Together they travel through space and time. Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.
The short series just debuted on Disney XD and will air following Star vs. the Forces of Evil through June 29. (You can watch the first short, “No Anchovies,” below and check out additional episodes on the Disney XD YouTube channel.) Then in 2016, Future-Worm! will become a full-length animated series. This is how the worm turns, after all.
We recently spoke to Quincy, who filled us in on how he came to Disney, his favorite time travel movies, and how good it feels to be this strange.
How did you initially come to Disney?
I came to Disney about a year and a half ago on an overall development deal and that my marching orders were to come over and come up with possible shows and content and ideas. It was a really great place, really supportive and a great incubator for ideas and things. I came in with a couple of ideas and I think at first they were a little over-ambitious. Whenever I got stuck on these ideas, I would go back to this dumb idea that was a time travel show about a kid with a time traveling lunchbox and a time traveling worm. And I kept coming back to this idea because the ideas and stories were coming so quickly. I had been coming to these meetings and other people were into them but I wasn’t so much and I said, “I have this other idea…” And they were like “Okay…” The gears shifted and it just picked up momentum from there. Everyone here knew that I knew this show and knew these characters so well.
How did you come up with the super-short format?
My original ideas were that this would be for an 11-minute show. And they said, “Were you interested in shorts?” And I said, “Sure.” I was thinking it was three-to-four minutes and they said, “What about 90 second range?”
There’s definitely an ‘80s vibe to the series, playing on a very specific set of teenage science-themed movies that came out back then. What were you inspired by?
Definitely ‘80s movie like Explorers, The Goonies, Flight of the Navigator. All that stuff played into this. I was a huge fan of the old Doctor Who and Six-Million Dollar Man. All of that stuff has the DNA in this show. Hopefully making it for everyone know. It’s not a nostalgic show. It’s an action adventure comedy.
The show is really strange in a great way. Did it take any convincing?
I feel like the timing was really great with this. They were really open to new, weirder things. I think the Pickle & Peanut show was a big part of it. I don’t think my show would have been able to eek through either. Future-Worm! is a weird show but we earn the weirdness because there’s still heart. The storytelling is strong and these characters really care about each other. There’s all this weirdness going on but I think we earn it.
What was it like getting paired with Star vs. the Forces of Evil?
I love all of the shows happening here. Star is amazing. To be put with Star is great. I feel like we’re kindred spirits.
What sets your version of time travel apart?
All of it is selfish time travel. They’re not trying to right historical wrongs. The time travel stuff is supposed to be so they can fix mistakes. And they use time travel to make mistakes more often than they fix them. For instance in “No Anchovies” they order a pizza and they can’t wait that long so they’re going to go 20 minutes into the future and of course get sidetracked and wind up in a weird world. There’s another episode where Danny slips on a banana peel in front of the whole school and it’s devastating so he has to go back in time and jump over the banana peel. With every one of the shorts, I tried to show that they go into some weird dimension, here’s a problem at school, here’s a problem at home, and there’s one where Danny meets his future self and has to deal with that interaction.
What are some of your favorite time travel stories?
Back to the Future, Doctor Who, the original Time Machine, I love all of it. A lot of it was: whatever they did, we want to do the opposite. We’re not interested in the time space continuum and paradoxes.
Now that you’re part of the Disney family you should probably start dreaming big. If you could put a Future-Worm! attraction in one of the Parks, what would it be?
We’d definitely have to make a time travel lunchbox ride. Maybe they could repurpose the Honey, I Shrunk the Audience set. You could make it like Honey I Shrunk the Audience mixed with Star Tours.