For every one of my generation, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that we all grew up, in one way or another with the legendary after school cartoon line up of The Disney Afternoon, and though Gummy Bears came before it, Ducktales is what brought us racing home to turn on the tube.
The show became a legend and launched a new age of television animation that focused on quality and fun and NOT cost effectiveness and toy lines. Disney upped its game big time and followed up Ducktales with shows like Goof Troop, Tailspin, Gargoyles and my own personal favorite, Darkwing Duck.
Sadly though, like all good things, Ducktales only lasted for 3 seasons and a total of 99 episodes and a feature length theatrical movie (which launched its own animation studio to concentrate on quality direct to video features) before Disney pulled the plug. However those 99 episodes were etched into our souls as some of the brightest spots in our collective childhoods.
Flash forward to 2015, nearly 30 years after the debut of the original and Disney sent the cartoon world for a spin like it hadn’t seen in years by announcing a revival the much beloved Duckberg and its inhabitants that would premiere on DisneyXD. The announcement was met with reserved cheers. What would they be doing? A continuation, a re-imagining? Would it be gritty and realistic or go anime inspired? Who would return, what adventures would they have? Disney remained pretty hush hush about the details for the next year until they had assembled an all-star cast to strut out to the fans.
The biggest get for the show was the casting of Doctor Who’s David Tennant as the beloved Scrooge McDuck. Alan Young, the original iconic voice had died shortly before the announcement, and Tennant, a crowd favorite to begin with would find himself stepping into his second set of big shoes and trying to fill them. Communities Danny Pudi, SNL’s Bobby Moynihan and Beck Bennet would also be stepping into to help round out a cast of veteran vocal performers and comedians.
But enough of the history, how was the premiere? In two words – Nostalgically Glorious! The show is a total reboot, starting with Donald Duck introducing his nephews to Scrooge for the first time and going on their first grand adventure, to discover the Lost Jewel of Atlantis. Along the way we are also introduced to Scrooge’s housekeep Mrs. Beekly and her daughter Webby.
Here is where this new version begins to get things right. The show fixes Webby. In the original, Webby was a shrill, whiney little stereotypical girl who would always get in the way and bother “the boys”. Any time she was on the screen it was like nails on a chalk board. In this new version, she is a devoted fan of Scrooge and his adventurous life and is excited to meet the Nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, but she is no longer the squeaky, helpless character. She can take care of herself and is in every way an equal to the nephews in the story.
Tennant is a joy to listen to as Scrooge. Just as he was as The Doctor, his charm and elegance shines through, but as much as Scrooge tends to be, when it is time to play the grousing old man, Tennant shines still. Yes, you do miss Alan Young in the role, but Tennant plays it with the reverence and skill it deserves. Tennant doesn’t make you forget about Young, but he does make you remember the past, but enjoy the present.
Ducktales 2017’s first episode entitled appropriately “Woo-oo” is a good, nostalgic time that will warm your heart and make you remember why Disney was king of the Afternoon for so long.
Oh, and they HAVE confirmed that Darkwing Duck will be showing up in the future which for ME personally is reason enough to stick with the show!