Hollywood continues to ride the nostalgia train, rebooting shows and movies from the 1980’s and 1990’s. Some of them have worked, most have not.
Disney’s DuckTales, one of the best cartoons ever made (yeah, I’m going there), is the latest property to be rebooted for modern audiences.
DuckTales first aired in the late 80’s and was one of the reasons you’d gladly forget you had homework to do. The show followed the exploits of Scrooge McDuck and his three grandnephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie as they went on various adventures that would make Indiana Jones jealous. The show sported a colourful cast of characters including the unforgettable Launchpad McQuack, Magica De Spell, the Beagle Boys and Donald Duck himself on occasion.
Disney’s reboot of the show takes the above concept and, apart from really fleshing out the characters, changes absolutely nothing of that winning formula.
Led by the wonderful David Tennant as Scrooge, the show boasts a fantastic cast that includes Danny Puddi, Ben Schwartz, Bobby Moynihan and Kate Micucci. Each actor gives a fantastic performance, investing their avatars with more character than I expected. Huey, Dewey and Louie each have vastly different personalities, while Webby is just as pro-active and capable of taking care of herself as the boys in this incarnation, compared to her damsel-in-distress role in the original show.
David Tennant simply steals the show as Scrooge McDuck, starting with a grumpy, world-weary personality that is slowly reawakened to life after his grandnephews come into his life and reignite his passion for adventure. Launchpad, unfortunately, plays a smaller role in this new version of the show, though there are moments that it’s very clear he is having his own adventures while the Duck family are about theirs.
There is the merest hint of a possible overarching plot in this new series concerning the appearance of Magica and the mystery surrounding the boys' mother. For now, the show follows an episodic format that presents - apart from the 44-minute long pilot - different adventures with some life lessons learned along the way. Thankfully the show doesn’t beat you over the head with these lessons.
I initially had my reservations about the show. The reworked opening along with new character designs and animation techniques didn’t initially sell me on the show. The pilot episode wasn’t all that strong either. But after that, the DuckTales magic came to life from the third episode onwards. The new character designs and animation work wonderfully and even the retooled opening theme song, embracing a comic visual design aesthetic, sticks in your head.
The strength of each episode, even the ones in which the Ducks aren’t traipsing over the world, are strongly written and each episode has great humour. The writers have managed to hit that sweet spot of action, humour and drama just right. More importantly, though, they’ve managed to retain the show's sense of fun and adventure that made watching each episode a total delight.
DuckTales Season 1 only comprises 9 episodes, unfortunately, which has left me with a huge itch to scratch. Thankfully the show has been renewed for a second season, though there doesn’t seem to be an airing date for it.
If you haven’t watched DuckTales yet, then you should. Actually, you should go all retro and just watch it all!
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