*DISCLAIMER* This review is about the first two episodes of a new series.
We may have dealt with an overabundance of reboots over the past couple years…okay, yeah, we definitely did. Some were good, some bad, and one almost caused a second Civil War *cough “Ghostbusters 2016” cough*. When Disney announced it was “Ducktales'” turn, I was dubious yet optimistic.
After hearing the updated theme song for the first time, I was hooked. When the first episode concluded, my worries melted away.
All at once, I was reminded why the original “Ducktales” was endeared to so many; fun characters, imaginative stories, excellent animation and a sense of campy fun that knew when to back off for more serious themes. This new iteration hit all those marks, and I can’t wait for the next adventure with Scrooge and crew.
The first episode starts off relatively tame, with Donald (Tony Anselmo as always) prepping for a job interview while failing to hire a babysitter for his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie (Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz and Bobby Moynihan respectively). Out of options, he turns to his estranged Uncle Scrooge (played to Scottish perfection by David Tennant), where we learn just how surprisingly deep the rift is that developed between these former adventurers.
Emphasis on “former” for Scrooge; he’s become a miserly recluse who only takes the boys in under familial obligation. While this set up leads to the predictable mending fences arc, it still delivers a satisfying payoff and gives the characters’ unique personalities time to shine while delivering inspired performances.
I was most surprised by how the changes to the cast didn’t feel forced and unnecessary. Scrooge and Donald are thankfully as they were. Launchpad McQuack is given a new actor in Beck Bennett channeling Terry McGovern to a T, but is still his big-hearted, klutzy self. The triplets are now individuals instead of an amorphous collective, each having unique and great interactions with everyone involved while retaining that spark that made the triplets memorable in the first place.
Perhaps the most drastic changes were left for Webby and her grandmother, Mrs. Beakley (Kate Micucci and Toks Olagundoye), both of whom are less of the token girl archetype and more rough and tumble than suspected. It’s a great change of pace for them as I suspect they won’t be playing into the “Damsel in Distress” roll anytime soon, which is good. It keeps the series fresh and the audience on their feet.
All throughout, everything is presented in some of the best animation I’ve seen in this style. It evokes the sensibilities of 1950’s comic books, looking like it was done with cells and hand drawings instead of computers and 3D models, a decision I am thankful Disney made. It flows as well as the story’s pacing and never once comes off as a cost cutting measure, but an homage to how animation once was.
It’s hard to describe how excited I was for the future of this series after seeing these first two episodes. Everything works in all the right ways and promises adventures of the practical and fantastical variety, making me want to tune in on Saturday morning with a sugary bowl of cereal out of sheer habit. Oh, and don’t get me started on perhaps THE MOST infectious theme song ever. Seriously, who isn’t humming it now? Props to Felicia Barton for staying faithful while giving a classic song a fresh, energetic take.
“Ducktales” is worth watching even if your childhood days are long gone. Any fan of the first series will find something to like about the new “Ducktales,” even if it’s just the theme. All I know is I’ll be tuning in regularly to see where it goes from here, and so far, it’s going in the right direction.
PROS: Fresh take on a classic; Infectious theme; Sense of humor.
CONS: An underutilized, new Mrs. Beakley; Can be slow to start.