DuckTales is a reboot of the original 1987 cartoon show of the same name. It centers on the treasure-hunting adventures of billionaire Scrooge McDuck, his grandnephews Hewey, Duey and Louie, his nephew Donald Duck, his pilot Launchpad McQuack, Mrs. Beakley and her granddaughter Webby. It made its debut this past Saturday, August 12, 2017.
Many remember fondly the classic cartoon series DuckTales from 1987. Even though the show is almost 30 years old, I used to watch it a lot along with such shows as Kim Possible (2002) and American Dragon: Jake Long (2005), and I loved it. So as you can see, the show is timeless and has left a big legacy throughout the years, building a massive fan-base. This leads many to wonder: is the new reboot series as good as the original? Let’s take a look at the series’ special hour-long debut that premiered this Saturday, titled Woo-oo!, to find out.
Let’s start with one of the elements that made the original series so great: the characters, starting with the protagonist Scrooge McDuck, played by the tenth Doctor himself, David Tennant. To be honest, I never watched Doctor Who, but his role as Killgrave in Jessica Jones (2015) was enough to convince me he had quite the acting abilities, and they are present in his role as Scrooge McDuck. Even though I think Alan Young was a little bit better as Scrooge McDuck, David Tennant manages to bring a more youthful and eccentric side to the character which makes his performance more unique.
Then there’s the first improvement the show makes which is the famous trio of Huey, Dewey and Louie. In the original, these three had equal looks, personalities and even the same voice actor, the only difference being the colors of their clothes. But in the new show, they have different clothes, hairstyles and personalities. Huey (the red one) is the most joyful and excited, Dewey (the blue one) is the most grounded and arrogant, and Louie (the green one) is the more laid-back and mischievous. They’re played respectively by Danny Pudi from Community (2009), Ben Schwartz from Parks and Recreation (2010) and Bobby Moynihan from SNL, and they all play their parts well enough to the point their voices are unrecognizable.
Then there’s Mrs. Beakley and Webby. Because many of the original’s viewers were boys, these characters were the least favourite among fans (Mrs. Beakly for being your typical grandmother and her granddaughter Webby for being too girly). But in the new one, Mrs. Beakley, played by Toks Olagundoye from Castle (2009), is more bulky in stature and no-nonsense in personality which is an improvement. Webby, played by Kate Micucci who is known for many cartoon roles, is much better. Due to her overprotective grandmother, this version of Webby kicks butt with her brave, adventurous spirit and martial arts skills, but knows little about the world outside Scrooge McDuck’s mansion. She is more socially awkward and has trouble fitting in with the boys, which makes her a very relatable character. In fact, she’s my favorite so far.
And finally there are fan favorites Donald Duck and Launchpad McQuack. They’re played respectively by Tony Anselmo and Beck Bennett, who both play their characters to near perfection, which isn’t very hard for Tony Anselmo since he played Donald in the original series. This brings us to another improvement in the show which is making Donald Duck a regular character, and this makes sense considering Donald is one of the most iconic Disney characters.
The only character that I have a problem with so far is Flintheart Glomgold. All his characteristics from his personality to his design aren’t bad, but they fall short compared to the original. The original Glomgold really felt like the evil version of Scrooge, but this one just feels like a common villain. This extends to his goons, who are more professional criminals and one of them is even some kind of ninja. I think this is a bit overkill since goofier villains like the Beegle boys (who are confirmed to appear on the show) fit the show’s tone better.
The story is pretty great. It’s full of exciting action and hilarious humor that both kids and adults will enjoy. The adventures, artifacts and death traps are very creative, which was one of the original series’ strengths. Because the creator Matt Youngberg is a big fan of the original show, he takes the story more seriously which makes it appeal to more age groups. but also makes it lose some but not all of the original’s campiness. It also features some interesting Easter eggs and references to the original and gives more focus to unanswered questions from the original.
The animation style is the topic that caused the most controversy among fans of the original DuckTales. I think the original hand-drawn animation is top-notch, but the animation style of the new series is also praise-worthy. Sean Jemeniz, the art director, takes a more modern cartoon style which makes the new series stand out from the original series. He also borrows a lot of elements from the original Disney comics, such as Scrooge’s original red robe and Donald’s original black sailor costume.
Of course there’s the theme song, the extremely catchy and memorable theme song. It’s probably the thing most people remember from the show and for good reason. It’s fun and exciting, capturing the show perfectly. As such, the theme song of the new DuckTales is similar. The first difference is the singer, who in the new series is Felicia Barton. She makes the song more energetic and fast paced, capturing the show’s adventurous spirit. The animation that goes along with the theme song is very comic-book like with the characters jumping from panel to panel in a giant comic book page. The old one is better,of course, but the new one manages to stand out in a good way, making it almost as memorable.
So which DuckTales is better? I don’t want to make comparisons since both shows are great and because we only have two episodes of the new show so far, plus a few shorts. But the 2017 DuckTales is, in my opinion, a near-perfect reboot series so far. It stays accurate enough to respect and honor the original, but it also makes enough changes to stand on its own, most of them for the better. Whether you’re an old or new fan of the original show, I suggest you watch the new DuckTales. Not poney tales or cotton tales, but DuckTales! Woo-oo!
Written by: Miguel Coelho