Rewriting History Or Solving A Mystery: A DuckTales Review
It came as no surprise that Disney was rebooting an old classic Disney channel favorite, DuckTales. It had been the one of the most talked about show amongst the Disney community, as we were getting breaking news for anything that had anything to do with the Ducky favorite. Most of the fans seemed to know exactly what they were getting before it even debuted on August 12, 2017, yet we were all pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
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For those who don’t know DuckTales originally was a cartoon produced in the late-80s about Donald Duck’s triplet nephews (Huey, Dewie, and Louie) and their Great Uncle Scrooge and how they went through zany adventures in search of artifacts and other priceless commodities. Each episode had a villain to oppose them, and they would overcome obstacles with additional parties like their pilot Launchpad, the maid Mrs. Beakley, and Beakley’s granddaughter, Webby.
The show lasted only 4 seasons, but it left a huge impact on the Disney channel. Even spawning a theatrical film, DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp. This gave Disney the confidence to create more anthropomorphic cartoon content with spinoffs of Darkwing Duck and later on other cartoons started popping up like Jungle Book inspired, TaleSpin, Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers, and Goof Troop.
Presently, we are greeted with the reboot, which has the same charm and premise as the original, but different. Let me back track, just a little bit, on the details.
We were first told about this reboot as far back as 2015, only giving the smallest of detail that it was indeed going to be a reboot and still follow the adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his triplet nephews, just like the original in the 80s, and be based more on the comic books that were printed alongside the cartoon.
The Hype Was Real, People
Towards the end of 2016, we were finally getting the names of the cast. As most of us that were still into it (or just morbidly obsessed with seeing it fail) were on the edge of our seats, waiting to see who was cast as Scrooge. Who!?
Who, was right. Doctor Who to be precise. David Tennant, best known for his role as the tenth Doctor on the popular BBC show Doctor Who was cast as the Scottish billionaire (bazillionaire? How much does this duck have?). It all seemed to make sense to have such a notable actor, and Scottish born, to play such an iconic role.
The same day, fans were in for a surprise that Donald Duck’s nephews will be voiced by three different actors, and obviously, will be rid of the “Ducky” voice that their uncle can’t seem to shake. These actors aren’t anyone to ignore either.
Huey (The red one) will be played by Danny Pudi, known for his role on Community.
Dewey (The evil one) will be played by Ben Schwartz, known for his role as Ralphio Saperstein on Parks & Rec
And Louie (Bluey) played by Bobby Moynihan, known famously from SNL.
The rest of the all-star cast
Webby Vanderquack – Kate Mucucci (Steven Universe and Garfunkel and Oats)
Mrs. Beakley – Toks Olagundoye (Castle)
Launchpad McQuack – Beck Bennett (SNL)
Donald Duck – Tony Anselmo (Official character voice for Donald)
And how they were officially introduced to this very catchy tune.
After these announcements. Even a little extra love was sent after the cast was revealed that Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, Moana) was also going to voice a character in the series.
The most important part of trying to reboot a beloved original is how it is executed. How was Disney going to portray this reboot that is supposed to be different but keeps the same elements? It all ties in on the construction of the cartoon. Mid-summer of 2016, we were first given a teaser poster of how it was all going to look.
We also saw the characters when the cast was revealed in the video I posted earlier. It was here that we could distinguish the true difference and impact this reboot was going to have. This was a very defining love it or hate it moment. Unfortunately, I believe DuckTales was losing a chunk of their audience at no fault of their own, by the personal opinions of others.
Many Disney fans were criticizing the new style, my husband included, to the degree of almost hate. Many a forum and social media outlets were littered with unsatisfactory comments of what people thought. This was all sad in a way because as far as a year out from the actual debut day people were writing it off.
Even amongst all the negativity, the strong sense of nostalgia from childhood for me and many others was holding on for a good outcome. New fans, who have only heard of DuckTales or have streamed crappy versions of the show, were coming out by the numbers. Which makes me think Disney was counting on that. And the hype continued to build back up.
One thing to take notice of the art style is how the duck boys are drawn. Unlike its predecessor, they are individually drawn. They have different hair styles, different clothes, and we know they have different voices. Disney was rewriting the triplets with their own personas, which was immensely different from the original, where the only way to distinguish between the three was the color they wore.
I was immensely excited for this because it would add more depth into each episode and possibly highlight each boys’ strengths and/or weaknesses. More opportunity to get to know them, along with the dynamics of the rest of the cast. Also, it gave a small hidden throwback because we haven’t seen different individualities for the nephews since Quack Pack. You know Quack Pack, where the boys were written as teenagers and lived back with their Uncle. It was a rather strange and slightly entertaining answer to the popularity of Goof Troop.
Fast forward to August 12, 2017, DuckTales premiered on DisneyXD to an actual 24-hour marathon of the hour-long episode (Two episodes back to back), just in case you missed it throughout the day. Disney wasn’t going to let you!
The premiere was just exactly what we missed from the original and gave a lot more than just the nostalgia of back in the 80s. The first episode was half introduction/half adventure, a pleasant mixture to introduce newcomers and ease in the original fans.
Instead of just jumping right into an adventure of daring exploits of Uncle Scrooge McDuck, a whole new adventure is introduced in the form of learning everyone’s dynamic. We delve right into every single character starting point before the “DuckTales” even begins. Enter the modern family of ducks that is Donald Duck and his nephews and how they live life day by day, and briefly explains why Donald is such short on patience. He has three kids to take care of, who incidentally cause more harm than good when they are helping their Uncle find a new job. Concerned about leaving the boys alone, he tries to arrange a deal with his estranged Uncle, too much surprise of the boys who only heard of famous stories but never knew they were related. Enter the ever-growing dynamic between Great Uncle and grand nephews.
The characters that have experienced the most changes are the original quiet, innocent ones; Mrs. Beakley and Webby. Mrs. Beakley looks as if she has become Mr. McDuck’s bodyguard, shown by her built upper-body. However, she is still having the same role as housekeeper, and later most likely, nanny. Her voice also comes across as more stern and professional than the scared-cooing from yester year.
Webby also experiences a huge personality and overall look. She once sported pink, and looks very much like a mini Daisy Duck and was very much a sweet girl and animal-loving, and most often the conscience of the boys. The new version of Webby Vanderquack is more in your face and is more enthusiastic about going on adventures from being home all the time, she has created a conspiracy board all about Donald Duck. She has learned a few martial arts moves and was seen brandishing her own knife. This is definitely an upgraded Webby.
I personally liked what DuckTales provided with their very first episode. Not only did it sedate the hidden child within me, but it answered a lot of questions the original series seemed to leave out. Also, the episode is ripe with Easter eggs and mentions from the 80s series. Donald Duck being more incorporated into this story is really a changing moment, that sticks with me when watching this episode. In the original, I don’t remember if Donald ever showed up but it was universally known that Donald Duck dropped off his nephews in his Uncle’s care so he could go off to the Navy. Now, we are getting to see Donald as an adventure and as Webby’s hero. There is so much love for the Fab 5, I can see this addition as a great one for fans.
As I have mentioned before this reboot is more along the lines of taking after the comic books by Carl Barks . This came as inspiration for more of the adventures to come. And honestly, before hearing about them making the DuckTales reboot, I had no idea there was a series of comic books dedicated to the adventures to Scrooge and the triplets. You can see the small little touches that did to this animated style to incorporate those comic books, the blocky/bubble style of the characters, comic shading, most of which you can see from the opening song where they literally jump out of comic blocks. I am excited to go down this road to see what other mysteries and adventures these ducks go down. I was a fan and I still am one.
DuckTales will officially begin showing new episodes on September 23, 2017, on DisneyXD.
For a little something extra, here is a couple of Easter eggs and mentions from the first episode:
- Cape Suzette, Spoonerville, and St. Canard were mentioned, all hometowns of Darkwing Duck, TaleSpin and Goofy Troop.
- Donald is wearing is original black sailor’s outfit, instead of the blue one.
- Webby’s doll, Quacky-patch, from the original series makes an appearance pinned next to the conspiracy board.
- Webby’s “conspiracy board” actually has a lot of DuckTales references. What can you find?
- Uncle Scrooge utters “tougher than toughies, and smarter than the smarties” which is a throwback to when he said it in the original series.
The “Wing of Secrets” shows:
- the lamp from DuckTales the Movie
- Armstrong the Robot
- The giant Golden Sun coin
Let me know what you think in the comments down below!
Image Credit: Disney & BBC