The announcement of a new DuckTales led to some interesting revelations in the Gabbing Geek office. Watson and Jenny both apparently had fond memories of at least the theme song. Jimmy and Ryan didn’t seem to be fans.
Me? I watched the original show, but never loved it that much. I probably left it on after shows I did watch that, in hindsight, were more blatant toy commercials that don’t hold up well, but I didn’t notice the difference then. In retrospect, DuckTales may have been a huge step in TV animation. Unlike most TV animation up to that point, including some genuinely good shows like Rocky and Bullwinkle, the animation actually showed a level of quality, and the adventures were generally smarter than most other similar shows. Would there be a Batman the Animated Series if there wasn’t a DuckTales? Who can say?
Anyway, let’s look at the new show now that the pilot has aired.
So far, so good. I think I like it better than younger me liked the original show.
The premise hasn’t changed much: Donald Duck has to take care of personal business, so he leaves his energetic nephews Huey (in red), Dewey (in blue), and Louie (in green) with his rich uncle Scrooge McDuck. Uncle Scrooge is something of an adventurer, and complete with a crew of his own that now includes his nephews, he sets off on grand adventures many of which seem to involve Scrooge making more money. Since Scrooge is a benevolent trillionaire, that isn’t really a bad thing.
That said, aside from Donald himself, there’s a whole new voice cast to the characters, and this time it looks like Donald won’t be relegated to a rare cameo. He’s part of the main cast. If anything, casting three different actors as the young nephews and giving them distinct voices is a good start, as is giving them some semblance of separate personalities. Huey is the prepared one. Dewey is the ambitious one. And Louie doesn’t object to being called the evil triplet. These aren’t the only changes, and not just actually hiring a real Scottish actor (Geek fave David Tennant) to play the Scottish Uncle Scrooge. Generally cute and precocious Webby is now a daring wannabe adventurer in her own right, Scrooge and Donald had a history of some kind in the past that led to a rift between the two, and Scrooge’s own company accountants are suggesting that adventuring might be too expensive a part of the budget at present. About the only thing that seems to have stayed the same is Launchpad McQuack, the hapless, crash-prone idiot pilot, here acting as an all-purpose driver for whatever vehicle Scrooge has at the ready.
There’s also a more slapstick-friendly tone, which may be more appropriate for a show keeping Donald Duck in the foreground.
If anything, the new show is distinctive enough to stand on its own while being mindful of its past enough to satisfy that dreaded nostalgia itch that may have older viewers tuning in. Heck, there are references in the pilot to the towns that acted as the setting for the Disney afternoon shows Talespin, Darkwing Duck, and Goof Troop, suggesting crossover potential with other beloved Disney afternoon properties. No rating for right now. I’d say check it out if you were any kind of past fan. I’ll do a rating when the first season is finished.