BUENA VISTA TELEVISION'S 'MIGHTY DUCKS' TEAM UP FOR HOCKEY-COMEDY-ACTION (AND SAVING THE PLANET FROM IMPENDING DOOM)
Ian Ziering, Jim Belushi, Tim Curry and Dennis Franz Lend Their Voices to New Animated Series Premiering on "The Disney Afternoon" and ABC's Saturday Morning Line-Up
Hold on to your helmets, hockey-sci-fi-action-comedy-animation fans! The Mighty Ducks have arrived!
No, they're not the beat-all-odds Mighty Ducks hockey team from the two hit Disney films ('The Mighty Ducks' and 'D2: The Mighty Ducks'). And nope, they're not exactly the popular, real-life NHL Mighty Ducks hockey team based in Anaheim, California. We're talking about a new, ahem, breed of Mighty Ducks: a dynamic team of intergalactic, crime-fighting, hi-tech-smart, goal-scoring, zanily hilarious, hockey-star- superheroes, starring in television's wildest new animated adventure series.
The 'Mighty Ducks' make their smash debut on Earth with three premiere appearances. A one-hour special scheduled to air on Friday, September 6 on 'The Disney Afternoon,' (check local listings) is followed by encore performances Friday, September 6 at 8:30 PM (ET/PT) on ABC, and Saturday Morning, September 7 at 9:00 AM(ET)/8:00 AM(PT) on ABC. In addition, a prime-time special hosted by Ben Savage and featuring a 'Mighty Ducks' episode back-to-back with Buena Vista Television's other new duck- related series, 'Quack Pack,' will also air in syndication this Fall (check local listings for date and time). Twenty-six original episodes of the series are being produced this season: thirteen half-hour episodes will air Fridays on 'The Disney Afternoon,' the award-winning two-hour syndicated children's programming service; and, thirteen additional episodes will air exclusively on the ABC Saturday Morning line-up.
Mixing action, comedy, hockey, and ducks in ways that have never before been attempted by humans, 'Mighty Ducks' follows the adventures of six young half- human/half-ducks who have traveled across the galaxy to save the Earth from their arch enemy, the very reptilian Dragaunus, and his equally odious henchmen . . . and to play some serious hockey.
At the Anaheim Pond (home of the real-life Mighty Ducks hockey team), the Mighty Ducks take the ice in the arena before crowds of hockey-loving fans. But below the rink, in their secret, super-cool-hi-tech headquarters, they strategize the defense of civilization from Dragaunus' plans to enslave it. And when they're not thrilling their fans with hockey magic or saving the world with the help of specially made puck-launchers, duck sabers, martial arts, and their way-out-there, sarcastic, self-deprecating sense of humor, they hang out at the mall across the street.
"'Mighty Ducks' pushes the boundaries of an animated series," says Dean Valentine, President, Walt Disney Television and Walt Disney Television Animation. "The comic book action, larger-than-life villains, and action set pieces provide kids with plenty of eye candy, while the witty dialogue makes the series fun for grownups as well."
They're Talking Duck
'Mighty Ducks' racks up the points with a championship voice cast. Ian Ziering ('Beverly Hills 90210') sets the pace as the Ducks' team captain, the courageous Wildwing. Funnyman Jim Belushi ('Race the Sun,' 'Mr. Destiny') voices Phil, the team's brash, no-deal-is-ever-a-bad-deal business manager who's always on the lookout for the next merchandising opportunity. Film star Tim Curry ('The Rocky Horror Picture Show') is the bad-guy Saurian Overlord Dragaunus; Dennis Franz ('NYPD Blue') brings his distinctive Andy Sipowicz-style to Police Officer Klegghorn, who harbors strong suspicions about the Ducks' heroic exploits; and ESPN sports anchor Roy Firestone calls the shots as the Anaheim Pond announcer.
Several guest voices also join the all-star line-up, including David Hyde-Pierce, the Emmy-winning star of 'Frasier,' who lends his talents to the unctuous Baron von Lichtenstamp, a hunting fanatic determined to capture the ducks for a very special duck pate. Real-life Mighty Ducks hockey star Guy Hebert also voices an animated character -- himself.
From Puckworld to Our World
It all starts long ago in the icy universe of Puckworld, where hockey is more than just a way of life -- it is a sacred art. Puckworld was taken over by the dark forces of the Saurian Overlords and, after centuries of destruction, the last remaining Overlord, the dastardly Dragaunus, escapes with his henchmen through a dimensional gateway to a parallel universe -- and our planet.
Totally bummed out at having their hockey interrupted, a scrappy band of rebels -- the Mighty Ducks -- follow Dragaunus, vowing to end his evil rampage once and for all. Using their amazing hockey skills as a cover, the Ducks do their best to thwart the villain's efforts to steal all the electricity on earth or find the Proteus Chip that will power the all- destroying ray-cannon. Along the way, they try to help each other adjust to their new home and their 'strange ducks in a strange land' situation, as well as dodge their manager Phil's latest attempt to land a fast-buck endorsement deal. ("Serves me right getting mixed up with an animal act!" Phil complains.)
The 'Mighty Ducks' team consists of Wildwing (Ziering), the daring, idealistic young team captain who is transformed into a superhero when he wears The Mask (a goalie mask with special powers enabling him to become a superhero); Nosedive (Steve Mackall), Wildwing's 'wisequacking' younger brother whose headstrong attitude often leads him and his teammates into trouble; Tanya (April Winchell), the team's whiz-bang scientific expert; Grin (Brad Garrett) who uses a lethal (and often hilarious) combination of brute strength and Zen philosophy to thwart his enemies ("No one who plays the noble sport of hockey can be all bad," quoth Grin); Duke L'Orange (Jeff Bennett), a former cat burglar who now employs his style and charm to fight crime; and Mallory (Jennifer Hale), a dangerous martial arts expert with a fondness for shopping.
The Team Behind the Team
'Mighty Ducks' producer/director Joe Barruso recently joined Walt Disney Television Animation from his Emmy Award-winning stint on Fox's "Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?" He is joined by story editor David Wise, a uniquely talented writer who has scored animation awards since he was eight, and won his first Emmy for the cartoon version of 'Star Trek' while still a teenager.
"'Mighty Ducks' pairs hard-edged action with an absolutely wild sense of fun to play out stories against a backdrop of real danger," Barruso explains. "At the same time all this action is happening, the characters break the fourth wall to create layers of comedy."
Wise notes, "We went for an eclectic mix of characters -- a sort of 'Dirty Dozen'- 'Seven Samurai' combination of wildly disparate personalities brought together by a single unifying goal -- both on and off the ice. All our players have more than one layer -- they're not at all simple cartoon characters. And the humor acts like a blast of nitroglycerine into a fuel mixture, to take the adventure to a higher level -- the two elements supercharge each other."
The hockey games, used to help advance the story, aren't simple either. Barruso and his crew have worked hard to make the hockey segments as accurate as possible in terms of uniforms, equipment and the rink itself. Working from computer-generated drawings, the animation team has recreated the interior world of the Anaheim Pond. Barruso also screened hours of real-life hockey footage to capture the essence of a stride, a swing or a slapshot.
"Joe and David make a fantastic team," says Barry Blumberg, Vice President of Series Development for Walt Disney Television Animation. "We thought the combination of David's unique brand of smart and funny action comedy and Joe's innovative, always- take-chances style of animation would result in something new and different -- and it most definitely has."
'Mighty Ducks' is produced by Walt Disney Television Animation for Buena Vista Television, subsidiaries of The Walt Disney Company. Joe Barruso is Supervising Producer, David Wise as Story Editor and Writer, with Doug Murphy and Frank Squillace serving as Directors. The President of Walt Disney Television Animation is Dean Valentine.