Historically, the original is always better than the remake. However, DuckTales (2017) seems to be re-writing history and solving the mystery of what to do with your Saturday mornings. Huey, Dewey, Louis and Uncle Scrooge have returned to television in a big way.
Entertainment Weekly has already cited it as “better than the old one” and for good reason. While the original 80’s cartoon had a lot of charm and adventure, it was light on character development. This reboot dispenses it in spades! Each of the triplets is being more flushed-out, even going so far as to get away from the similar raspy duck voices and giving them each their own distinct sound and speech pattern. Their uncle Donald retains his old voice and muttered speech, but we wouldn’t have that any other way! He does, however, have much more to do with the show than just dropping the ducklings off and heading out to sea. We are shown memories of passed milestones for him and his nephews, painting him as a caring surrogate father.
But the character to benefit the most from this remodel is Webbie VanderQuack. In the 80’s, Webbie was a sweet, innocent toddler, just trying to keep up with the big boys. Now, she can destroy them in a dart game without breaking a sweat! Her grandmother, Mrs. Beakley, has also been given an upgrade; from the doddering old housekeeper to an ex-spy with a mysterious set of skills.
Finally, there’s Scrooge McDuck, who has managed to remain a versatile and rich character. I think there was a play on words in there somewhere. He is the epitome of the Self-made Man, even without the help of a “small million dollar loan” from his father. And although the creators are pulling more from the Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck comics than the original show, he’s still an adventuring treasure hunter with a lot to learn about family.
What really makes this show such a timely wonder, aside from the brilliant character direction, is the fact that Disney stupidly aired the first season of episodes out-of-order to try and keep kids attention, and yet it didn’t seem to lose any fans. Yes, it has created some discursive storytelling, but most are waiting to see if the DVD will put the episodes back in their proper order, or if the Fandom will have to do it themselves. Do I really need to mention Fox and Firefly as an example of how that can end poorly for a show? But luckily for these ducks, it doesn’t seem to have slowed them down. Fans are already looking forward to Season 2, and the introduction of revised, old favorites like Magica De Spell and Gizmoduck.
The pilot episode is available on Disney’s youtube channel, the entire first season is up on Amazon and iTunes, and the DVD should be arriving on shelves soon.