After thirty years, Disney has had the opportunity and good fortune to bring audiences of all ages back to Duckburg for a reboot of the richly beloved animated series Duck Tales. This worthy revival—airing on Disney XD—has been hotly anticipated since Disney first announced the reboot all the way back in 2015. Over the past weekend, Disney played the pilot episode “Woo-oo” (because… naturally) continuously on a 24-hour loop before finally posting on YouTube.
BEAT staff writers TAIMUR DAR and AJ FROST watched and quacked along to the highly-anticipated new episode (more than once!). Behold the DUCKTALES rundown!
AJ FROST: So, Taimur, what were your first impressions of the new DuckTales? Did it make you want to swim in a vault of gold?
TAIMUR DAR: I’ll admit I was taken aback at first by the different direction from the classic DuckTales I grew up with. But as I got into it, the more I feel in love with all the changes. Actually, the best change for me was actually making Huey, Dewey, and Louie actually distinct characters.
FROST: Yeah, let’s talk about that for a second. So, the set-up for the show is a little different. Here, Donald Duck is a main player, while in the original version he was a side character. Donald has been estranged from his Uncle Scrooge for some time before the start of the series. Did that take you by surprise at all, that directors John Aoshima & Dana Terrace and writer Francisco Angones, decided to set up the show in such a way?
DAR: It did. For me, Donald Duck was always my least favorite cartoon duck character but here he actually his a more dynamic character. Scrooge McDuck as well, they definitely highlight his adventure side more than his greed in this iteration. Actually reminded me a bit of Batman, particularly Frank Miller’s approach i.e. aging hero out of his prime called back to adventure accompanied with younger sidekicks.
FROST: Now you’ve given me the mental image of “The Duck Knight Returns.” [Laughs]. I do think the characterization was solid, especially for a reboot. But at the same time, there were some kinks in the storytelling. I felt the plot was too rushed, probably done for the sake of convenience. I understand the notion that we already know the characters, but I still think that viewers should be given the chance to get reacquainted properly with them, and at a bit of a slower pace. I feel everything was thrown into the viewer’s face and we’re expected to make an emotional connection too quickly. What do you think?
DAR: Yeah, the story itself was definitely simple and straightforward. But, even so, I’m glad they didn’t overwhelm the audience with too much useless character exposition or story diversions. It was definitely a nice taste of what’s to come.
FROST: Sure. Maybe it was just me, then that felt it was a bit rushed. You didn’t think so?
DAR: Definitely. For instance, some of Flintheart Glomgold’s [Scrooge McDuck’s main adversary] henchmen that we meet in the pilot… I wish we could have had more development and time with them, even though they are only minor characters. I’m guessing we’ll probably see them again throughout the season, but more dialogue or comedic bits with them would have been great.
FROST: Yeah. There’s definitely so much more to explore in this universe. What were your thoughts on the show’s visual style?
DAR: I thought it invoked the Carl Barks-era comics really well, while also making the necessary updates to its look for a modern audience. Further, the new show perfectly reflects how much cartoons and creative choices have changed since the ‘80s. Take for instance the character of Webby [voiced by Kate Micucci]. She’s no longer the token “girl” character but actually, contributes to the adventures. It’s funny, or maybe it’s just the era we live in, but Glomgold is the perfect Trump stand-in for the show.
FROST: Hey now! No need to invoke politics! [Laughs.] I’m with you. I love how the creators invoked the Barks’ comics of yore as a key cornerstone of this version’s aesthetic. Pausing at any point makes you feel like you’re reading a comic, and I really appreciated the love and care that was put it to make the series both visually distinctive, quasi-retro, but also forward-looking.As for Webby, it is interesting to see how the times have reflected characterization. No longer is she a passive participant, but someone who goes straight into the action. I think that is a good point of progression for animated programs in general. You mentioned this earlier, but what did you think of the cast?
DAR: I’m so glad they didn’t give Webby a Quacky Patch doll. [Laughs]. I think they were all pitch perfect. David Tennant [Dr. Who] was pretty much born to voice Scrooge McDuck. Alan Young will always be the voice I hear as Scrooge but Tennant is doing his own take rather than a cheap imitation of Young which is exactly necessary. As I mentioned before, Keith Ferguson [as Glomgold stole the show for me as Glomgold.
FROST: And the triplets? In the original, Russi Taylor did all three, now we have three stellar comedy actors taking the reigns (Dany Pudi, Ben Schwartz, and Bobby Moynihan, respectively). What did each bring to their roles that might not have been what you expected?
DAR: The creative choices remind me of what they did with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not only did show runners give each Turtle an identifying color, but they gave each one distinct and nuanced personalities. But I think the distinct personalities with the nephews are a lot more subtle. Ben Schwartz as Dewey was the standout performance, not that the other two were lesser of course. But I was really taken with Dewey’s character arc from jaded youth to really embracing his Uncle Scrooge.
FROST: So, Taimur overall, looks like you approved of the episode. Any final thoughts?
DAR: Looking forward to seeing the rest of the supporting characters in Duckburg. New episodes can’t get here soon enough. Woo-oo!
FROST: I can’t agree with you more!
Catch the first episode of the rebooted DuckTales below: