TV Review: DuckTales – Woohoo!

Written by Matt Butler September 08, 2017


A good reboot is a next level challenge. You’re trying to jumpstart your own creative work while the source IP looms over you constantly. Your audience isn’t just looking for general quality, they’re expecting something as good as -or, God forbid, better than- the original. So revamping DuckTales, a staple of the Disney Afternoon, would be no easy task. And the recent climate of cartoon reboots by Cartoon Network offers little in the way of encouragement. But despite initial speculation, and despite all the cynicism from an endless recycling of franchises (in movies and television), the DuckTales reboot is a winner! Woohoo!

This comes at an interesting time for cartoon television. With Cartoon Network’s recent and ill-received Teen Titans Go!, Be Cool Scooby Doo!, Ben 10 (2016), and The PowerPuff Girls (2016), it feels overdue for this cartoon reboot cancer to die. (Samurai Jack is obviously exempt, but that’s over on Adult Swim. It’s safe there). And while we only have the first episode of DuckTales (technically two, since the 44 min episode splits at the 22-min mark), it’s safe to say we’re not heading back to Cringetown anytime soon. No, DuckTales feels right at home, here in Duckburg.

“I’m Scrooge McDuck! I made my name being tougher than toughies and smarter than the smarties.”

Though to be fair, a DuckTales reboot has a slight advantage over whatever Cartoon Network has been doing. With the exception of Be Cool Scooby Doo!, the source materials for Cartoon Network’s reboots are all less than 15 years old, so still fairly recent. DuckTales goes all the way back to 1989. This makes the idea of rebooting the series far more compelling since it comes from an era of television with way different sensibilities. I’d also argue that when you compare DuckTales to any of those CN reboots, DuckTales doesn’t have quite as specific of a style or sense of humour. DuckTales was a straightforward adventure series with light humor and the occasional moral. Its appeal was its constant story momentum and its gumption to put its characters in life-threatening perils. In essence, it’s Indiana Jones for kids, with ducks. There’s plenty of room to play with that.

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 9.15.18 PM

And that’s one of the best aspects of the new DuckTales; it’s playful. It takes the classic adventure model and runs with it. It doesn’t feel held back by any preconceived ideas of what the show should be. If anything, the changes are welcomed. Huey (Danny Pudi), Dewey (Ben Schwartz) and Louie (Bobby Moynihan) aren’t just grouped together as one character. They now have distinct designs and voices, even if those voices sound less like boyish ducks and more like 20-something comedians.

“I can’t keep track of all your sworn enemies.”

Webby (Kate Micucci) is also completely different. She’s not the cutesy little sister tag along anymore. Now she’s a socially awkward thrill seeker. Also, Mrs. Beakley’s (Toks Olagundoye) been written way more dry and mocking. These are changes I can get behind since they open doors for character development. Still, it doesn’t rewrite all of history. Donald (Tony Anselmo) is still an affable klutz with a heart for his family, Launchpad (Beck Bennett) is still an airhead, and Scrooge (David Tennant) is still an eccentric grump. Changes are made to expand the material, but all the best stuff is relatively the same. Are you taking notes, CN?


Still, anyone whose seen Gravity Falls will easily notice the echo in characters. Dewey/Dipper, Webby/Mabel, Launchpad/Soos, Scrooge/Stan and Glomgold (Keith Ferguson)/Little Gideon. It’s a hard thing to look past since it’s obvious Disney is trying to replicate aspects of one of its most recent successes. But then again, that’s also kind of wonderful. It’s this blend of the best of the old with the best of the new. It at least shows Disney knows what works, and the best part is it actually does!

“Aw, family truly is the greatest adventure of OH, NO, THE GROUND!”

I never knew Darkwing Duck, TaleSpin or DuckTales growing up, and this reboot really puts me to shame for that. It’s a fun, funny, expertly animated, wittily written love letter to a nostalgic gem that might just have the shine to become a gem of its own. Set for 21 episodes and already renewed for a second season, what to do but grab on to some DuckTales?

My Rating: 8/10


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About Matt Butler

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is a strapping young English Major with a fiery passion for the art of cinematic storytelling. He likes long walks on the beach and knows the proper use of 'your' and 'you're'. (Example: I hope YOU'RE having a wonderful time browsing our site, and I hope you enjoy YOUR time reading my film reviews. I wrote them just for you.)

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