If you’re a big fan of Western animation, chances are you had heard of the upcoming DuckTales reboot on Disney X.D. for a while now. Various teasers were dropped in the months leading up to the premiere, including confirmation of the famous theme song making the transition from the 90’s to 2017 with a bit of a refresher, and about 10 days ago from this writing (August 12, 2017), the premiere episode aired, launching what will probably be one of Disney’s biggest animated shows going forward in its reincarnated form.
So it’s been a while since I talked about Western animation, but the premiere of DuckTales was something to be anticipated, considering its status as one of Disney Television’s greatest properties, animated or otherwise, of all time. The bar was naturally high as a result, but the first thing to be expected (and was delivered) was that the show was not a 1:1 reboot based on the first episode. The animation style, for one, hearkens back to the comic book days of Scrooge decades ago, as does his outfit, and his nephews- Huey, Dewey, and Louie- received both design and personality overhauls. Webby Vanderquack in particular seemed to receive the greatest overhaul of anyone in the cast; while she retains her honest personality and desire to be associated with the boys, she’s been re-cast as an adventrous, outgoing girl with a load of hidden skills.
One of the more notable changes as well appears to be the increased role Donald Duck will have in this version of DuckTales. In the original show, Donald was mostly a minor side character who ceded guardianship of his nephews over to Scrooge while he served in the Navy; here he retains his role as guardian and the boys’ uncle, but is also in line to be a big part of the cast. It’s actually a thrilling move in the sense that it’s been far too long since Donald Duck had a starring role in what is anticipated to be a big-time show, and the dynamics of him interacting with his uncle should prove both enjoyable and perhaps even play into a larger story plot-points.
Speaking of the story, a good portion of the creative team here were the folks who worked on Gravity Falls. If anything, there should be a retention of the zany episodic adventures present in the original show (and that was pulled off with aplomb in the first episode), but also a seamless integration of larger story-arc elements. Details in the premiere support the idea of further development, but at the risk of spoiling major details, it’s definitely worth watching to see if one can get the same impression.
As for the episode itself, it’s a fantastic fusion of the new and old. In line with the idea that the reboot is definitely its own show, the plot has Scrooge’s great-nephews show up on his front gate when Donald is set to go off to a job interview, and mayhem ensues from there, introducing (or bringing back) the main cast of the show, including Launchpad McQuack, who already is hired as Scrooge’s catch-all pilot and chauffeur when we first see him, and Mrs. Beakley, his house maid, who seems a bit more tart than her original incarnation. The plot also sees the return of archrival Flintheart Glomgold, who gained quite a few pounds in his re-imagining, but retains his insatiable lust to surpass Scrooge as the world’s richest duck through any means.
To sum it all up, here’s what’s worth looking forward to off one episode:
- Details: You can tell Gravity Falls had some influence on DuckTales here, as the same attention to detail and surroundings is perfect for a show thriving on mystery and adventure.
- Characterization: As much beloved as the 90’s version of DuckTales was, the characters come off as somewhat flat roughly 30 years later, Scrooge aside (RIP Alan Young, you were terrific), and the comprehensive re-imagining of the nephews along with Webby suggests a much more dynamic character structure going forward, with plenty of room for character development, which already occurred in this one episode.
- Animation: While the 1990’s original is noted for its heavy inspiration rooted in the style of the Disney Renaissance, the reboot has re-discovered its comic origins, and so the style is a hybrid between classic Disney 2-D productions and the windowed panels of a comic book. To start, it’s an aesthetic that works and matches the show going forward.
- A great introduction for a younger generation: While the 90’s still doesn’t seem like that long ago, DuckTales in fact was from the late 1980’s and ended in 1990. Aside from a long-running series like The Simpsons, how many kids under the age of 10 realistically know about the nascent era of Disney Television and their animated shows? The general rule of thumb on reboots for a series is to wait about 10 years; a fresh compelling re-entry into the world of Duckburg is one worth doing, general time requirements aside.
Overall, the first real foray back into the re-imagined world of DuckTales is a successful outing, laying down the groundwork for what will hopefully join a short-list of “reboots done right.” It will be exciting to continue on back into the show as it develops, and should prove to be a great deal of fun when the first opportunity for a formal review arises.
(Finally..before you all ask, yes the money bin returns.)
Like what you see? Did you love the original DuckTales? Leave a comment!