Title: DuckTales: “Woo-oo!”
Network: Disney XD
Air Date: August 12, 2017
Spoilers ahead. Also gratuitous duck puns. You’ve been warned.
Nearly three decades after the premiere of its first iteration, life remains like a hurricane here in Duckburg. DuckTales has returned in a big way with a 24-hour marathon on Disney XD and proved to not only solve a mystery over the course of its exciting 44-minute premiere episode, but also rewrite history. Lasers, aeroplanes. It was truly a duck-blur.
Like the original series (1987-1990), DuckTales follows the adventures of Scrooge McDuck (David Tennant, Doctor Who) and his three nephews Huey (Danny Pudi, Community), Dewey (Ben Schwartz, Parks and Rec), and Louie (Bobby Moynihan, SNL) as well as Scrooge’s driver and bumbling pilot Launchpad McQuack (Beck Bennett, SNL). The reboot also brings in an older Webby (Kate Micucci, Garfunkle & Oates) and a more consistent presence of Donald Duck, the one character voiced by the same voice actor as the original series, Tony Anselmo.
The reboot is the brainchild of a creative team that worked on one of the most perfect cartoons from the last 10 years, Gravity Falls. While many Gravity Falls fans were sad to see it leave Disney XD after only two seasons, I think they will find something to love in DuckTales. There’s an uncle who loves money, mysterious artifacts of arcane origin, spunky mischievous children, one of whom is obsessed with solving mysteries.
The first episode only touches on it briefly, but I think a driving force behind DuckTales is going to be Webbigail’s obsession with the adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his various enemies and familial relations. After their uncle Donald leaves the boys with their estranged great uncle Scrooge, who they weren’t even aware was related to them, they meet Webby, the granddaughter of Scrooge’s housemaid Mrs. Beakley. Webby seemingly knows everything about the treasures Scrooge has collected over the years but has grown up in his mansion, never really experiencing the outside world. She’s a perfect match for the triplets who know nothing about Scrooge, but lots about pop culture and the outside world.
In addition to teaching Webby about hamburgers, which she’s never had, the boys are also puzzle pieces in her mystery board that is shown briefly in their first meeting. The board has lines connecting Scrooge to news clippings about sky pirates, lists of names including the Beagle Boys, numbers, a shadowy image labeled “Clan McDuck,” a note about World War II, a note about alternate timelines, and a few other connections that chart the McDuck family tree. For those familiar with Gravity Falls, clues like these were used to foreshadow upcoming episodes and as a decoder for messages inside the show and out.
The boys, not willing to just be left alone by their newfound relative, get into some shenanigans with mystic artifacts they find in Scrooge’s garage. Scrooge, who seems to have mostly retired from his treasure-hunting adventures, is roused out of his action-light lifestyle of board meetings and money-counting when he has to spring into action to thwart a couple ghosts and an ancient dragon awoken by his nephews and Webby.
Every tweak the reboot makes to the original is the perfect touch of modernization to make the show more relatable to a modern audience. Donald isn’t leaving the boys with Scrooge to join the Navy, he’s got an important job interview. Scrooge isn’t always treasure hunting, he made his riches and went into semi-retirement. Webby isn’t an innocent toddler, she’s a home-schooled weirdo seemingly more competent at adventuring than the boys.
Even the show’s villains have undergone some modernization. The first episode’s antagonist, Flintheart Glomgold, has always been Scrooge’s business rival and holder of the title “Second Richest Duck,” much to his dismay. A new layer added in the reboot is that Scrooge made his money himself and Glomgold relies on others. Previous iterations in the ’87 cartoon and various comics mostly just portrayed Glomgold as an outside-the-law villain, but the reboot casts him as a cutthroat businessman who hires mercenaries and produces soulless corporate training videos to get what he wants.
Something they don’t go into in great detail, but I think is worth considering is the fact that Donald used to go on adventures with Scrooge as revealed in a tattered old painting of some past pirate adventure. Could Donald’s outbursts be caused by post traumatic stress from a young adulthood of getting into scrapes with his crazy uncle? What caused the decade-long rift between him and Scrooge? And what happened to the boys’ mother, Donald’s sister, who is also revealed to have been in Scrooge’s adventuring party? I’m glad they’ve already announced a second season, there’s a lot of stories to tell.
Disney is so all-in with their new series, they’ve put the entire first episode on YouTube for prospective fans to get a look at before the Sept 23rd premiere of episode 2.
Verdict: This episode does a brilliant job of setting up the conflicts and characters of the series while also just being a fun little self-contained adventure to the lost city of Atlantis. The DuckTales reboot has an all-star cast that brings a ton of personality to the characters and promises to be a fantastic first season for kids and adults alike.
- All-Star Cast
- Gorgeous Art Style
- Funny, Heartfelt, Grown-up Friendly Writing
- Triplets Borderline Too Obnoxious
- No More New Episodes For 6 Weeks
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