I was pleasantly surprised to a couple weeks back when the first episode of Ducktales was released on Disney XD’s YouTube channel. As a kid I grew up on re-runs of the 1987 Ducktales series and remember my mom putting a hiatus on the number of times I could rent Treasure of the Lost Lamp from our town library. So while initially skeptical when the new broke in 2015 I warmed to the idea. I’ve watched the pilot a few times and wanted to look over some the aspects of the show, give my thoughts, and see where the series could go from here. So without further ado, lets dig in.
While the key components of the ’87 series are in place there are a few great changes. It was fascinating to see Scrooge as an old man who sees his golden years behind him. A duck who lived for adventure to build his fortune now forced to maintain his fortune through business ventures. The boredom has set in and made him unhappy. The introduction of Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby re-ignite the passion for danger. The big aspect that has me really intrigued is the plot point they ended the episode on. As a kid I always wondered where Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s parents were during their childhood. That final shot revealing that their mother was part of Scrooge and Donald’s early adventures gives the show an overarching story full of potential to keep the show interesting.
It was nice to see in forty plus minutes that almost every character got their traits set up. Huey, Dewey, and Louie now feel like they have their own separate personalities. I will admit the ’87 series never really tried to distinguish the three apart from each other. Aside from a handful of episodes where the plot dealt with one of them having identity issues there was never any character development. I’d go so far as to say that you could grab a script from the ’87 series, exchange dialogue between the three, and it would make little to no difference.
My favorite character revision has to be Webby. She never had much of a personality in the old series and often felt underwritten. I liked how the creators knew they needed to give her more to do to keep her relevant. Some critics have drawn parallels between this new take on the character and Mabel from Disney’s other series Gravity Falls. I can see the similarities, but I’d rather Webby be smart, competent, and be an equal to the boys instead of being as flat as her character was back in the day.
Another great addition was making Donald Duck one of the main characters rather than special guest in a handful of episodes. I can not wait to see the dynamic between Scrooge and Donald build through the series. As for Scrooge he is pitch perfect in this new incarnation. I’ll speak more on this below, but there’s one final thing I’d like to touch upon.
I was a little disappointed by the lack of Duckworth in the pilot episode. From a writing aspect I understand his absence from the show. Taking his attributes and splitting them between Launchpad and Mrs. Beakley makes the cast leaner and leads to less messy writing through the series. I am optimistic that Duckworth and numerous other characters from the original series will pop up in future episodes. You can catch a glimpse of Gyro Gearloose in the opening credits and the show’s creators revealed many beloved characters will serve a purpose in show. So, maybe they’ve found a new way to use Duckworth and we’ll see him in upcoming episodes.
This is kind of a mixed bag for me. The biggest win of the series was landing David Tennant in the voice role of Scrooge. Hearing a Scotsman voicing Scrooge is a great joy over someone trying to do a poor imitation of such an accent. I also really enjoyed hearing Kate Micucci as the voice of Webby. Aside from having previous experience in voice acting (A great take on the iconic Velma Dinkley in Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!) she gave the character a much needed energy and was probably the best of the kids. My biggest worry is the three actors voicing the nephews. Huey, Dewey, and Louie are kids and while Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz, and Bobby Moynihan are great comedic actors with impressive chops all of them sounded their age instead of like children. It might just be something I’ll have to get use to, but it’s a little jarring. As of now I’m uncertain about Beck Bennett as Launchpad. There were times where the voice sounded almost identical to Terry McGovern’s Launchpad and other times he sounds like a so so imitation. Again, it might just take some time to get use to.
This seems to be a big point of contention amongst fans. Some have praised the new take for the color palette looking like something from the original comic strip. Others have said the character design of the nephews and Webby’s heads are too round. I’m on the polar opposite end of both issues. I don’t mind the re-designs of the kids as I assume it was to give them a look to differentiate them from the adults. To me what made the original series great was the vibrant colors that made the show feel more epic than a typical animated TV show of the time had. I hope that as the show progresses they’ll bring more saturated colors into the animation.
-My Personal Opinion-
After all this discussion and dissection of the pilot I really enjoyed it. Much like the recent reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles this series feels like a show made by people who loved the original animated take on the characters. Not only does the series act as a great way to bring news into the fold it, but it also gives old fans like myself some great winks to the original show to know it intends to honor it’s legacy.
These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Are you excited to see where Ducktales goes from here? Did you enjoy the new take on the show’s iconic theme song? Are you looking forward to seeing the Beagle Boys, Magica De Spell, Fenton Crackshell, and numerous other characters return? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.