DuckTales (2017): The Junior Woodchuck’s Guide to Fun

Growing up, The Disney Afternoon was a staple of my after school activities. The 1990s became a renaissance for Disney Feature Animation and the bottle they used to store their feature film magic had just enough brilliance to spare for a block of television programs. Tailspin, Rescue Rangers, and even later shows like Goof Troop represented a large swath of my early pop culture addictions. No program was more special than DuckTales, which followed the exploits of Scrooge McDuck as he hunted down treasure in order to keep the mantle of Richest Duck in the World. Though DVD releases would keep the show alive, there hasn’t been anything as awesome on TV since then. But now, 2017 welcomes the return of the king with a brand new DuckTales series airing on DisneyXD. And it makes me so happy. The new DuckTales retains the heart and soul of the original 1987 series and I couldn’t be happier to see this staple of my childhood return.

The new series is a reimagining of the original show which makes sense, considering how long it’s been off the air. The two episode pilot begins with Donald Duck scrambling to prepare for a job interview while his three nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie wreak all sorts of havoc on their houseboat. When they trick their babysitter, Donald is forced to drop them off with his uncle, the “bajillionaire” businessman Scrooge McDuck. Right off the bat, I’m thrilled that all the characters come with so much more personality than their late 1980s counterparts. Instead of using the same voice actor for the three kids, Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz, and Bobby Moynihan bring a much needed nuance to Huey, Dewey, and Louie. They bring with them character that was missing from before, offering up a unique flavor that easily sets them apart. The same goes for Webbigail Vanderquack. Though she was one of my favorite characters, she rarely broke out of her meek, doe-eyed innocent exterior. For the better part of the series, she was a hanger-on to her three friends (who really didn’t like having her around much of the time). Thankfully, she’s been shed of her innocence and is someone the boys take an immediate liking to. Kate Micucci gives Webby a fantastic, fiery drive that gives Huey, Dewey, and Louie a run for their money.

Deserving his own paragraph is, of course, Scrooge McDuck. I absolutely adore Alan Young and just like Peter Cullen, he was my voice for my generation. And yet, you couldn’t do any better than David Tennant. It’s great that the show has an actual Scottish gentleman playing a Scottish gentleduck, and Tennant’s natural enthusiasm makes him damn well perfect to play Duckburg’s most famous wealthy adventurer. I was really intrigued with how Scrooge is presented at the start of the show. He’s a little down on his luck and possibly bleeding money, as his vault looks to be only a third full. He also seems to be anguishing against the battle over being labeled a “has been” past his adventuring prime. It’s a side of him I haven’t seen before but it gives him depth, making it all the more fun to see his spirit revitalized by his diminutive mischief makers.

DuckTales has the spirit of adventure pumping through its veins. In a world where anything can can (and will) happen, it makes sense that the series ditch the “afternoon cartoon” style of the original series for something a little more pulpy. Taking inspiration from the original Carl Barks illustrations, I love that it all looks like a comic book brought to life though some may balk at the computer generated nature of the animation.

I couldn’t be happier that 2017 has given us a whole new series of DuckTales adventures. The cast is fantastic, the characters are well rounded and diverse, and the style is perfect for the crew’s globetrotting adventures. If the two-part pilot is any indication, we’re in for one hell of a duck blur.

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