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Scrooge McDuck is an old adventurer but his glory days are behind him. He has somewhat faded into obscurity and is quietly living out his senior years as the richest duck in the world. That is until his nephew Donald Duck (desperate to find a job) changes his life around by dropping off three adventurous boys at this door step. Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck have heard of the adventures that their great uncle used to go on and are disappointed to find him in his current state of being a borderline hermit. Locked away in a room with nothing but marbles to pass the time the three troublemakers find a way to break out and in the process, meet up with Webbigail "Webby" Vanderquack. Webby is the granddaughter of Scrooge’s maid Bentina Beakley and as such has had plenty of time to wander around the mansion of Scrooge whom she also idolizes.
The four kids wind up in an area that is housing artifacts from Scrooge’s various adventures. The nephews are surprised, if not a little skeptical, to learn that their uncle Donald used to be a big adventurer that worked alongside their great-uncle. The kids accidentally unleash a slew of various ancient evils and are rescued by Scrooge. Stopping these creatures gives the kids the excitement that they’ve been looking for and rekindles Scrooge’s thirst for adventure!
Scrooge, the nephews, Webby and their pilot Launchpad McQuack take off on an adventure to the lost city of Atlantis but little do they know, they’re not the only ducks looking for the Lost Jewel of Atlantis; Flintheart Glomgold, Donald Duck (who ignorantly accepted a job offer from Flintheart) and his cronies are also on the hunt for this rare and valuable treasure!
For this first episode, I’m going to go a little deeper than I usually will with these episode reviews. Let’s break down a few things about this show:
The cast: Tony Anselmo is the only (as of now) returning voice actor to the DuckTales franchise. This episode taught me that Donald Duck is not meant for monologues. I found the conversation between him and the nephews at the beginning of this episode to be almost impossible to understand. That portion almost needed subtitles. That being said, Tony is truly a Disney legend and it’s nice to hear him return to the role that he’s played for years!
Doctor Who’s David Tennant is the voice of Scrooge McDuck in this latest version. When watching the advertisements for this show I was rather nervous that I wouldn’t like his take on the character. Something about his voice sounded too high pitched. But, I’m happy to report that I was very pleased with the outcome. He brings something to the character that is enjoyable, sassy and kind of heart breaking. You can tell that Scrooge is past his prime and for so long he’s let that get the better of him. But, when the boys renew his lust for adventure, Tennant’s Scrooge is everything that we love about the character and then some!
Comedians Danny Pudi, Ben Schwarts and Bobby Moynihan play Huey, Dewey and Louie respectively. If any of the casting is taking some getting used to for me, this is it. For so long the nephews have basically been one being. From “Ducky” Nash’s version of the nephews in the old shorts or Russi Taylor’s variation from the original DuckTales show, the nephews have always served as an extension of each other. There
was a series that some would probably prefer I not bring up where they polarized the nephews by making each one a stereotype of the 90s. That didn’t work in Quack Pack and I think a lot of people were worried that it might happen again with this show. But, the writers this time around have done an excellent job of giving each nephew their own personality while also keeping them connected. This episode is largely Dewey’s but we do get a little bit from all three of them. The voices are unusual to hear but all in all, I think I’m going to like what they do with these characters.
Webby is voiced by Kate Micucci who almost always plays some version of Kate Micucci. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. Kate has a voice made for cartoon characters and what she brings to Webby is exactly what Webby needs in this series. Gone are the days where Webby was the annoying little baby type character that often wound up getting in the way. This updated version of Webby is honestly, kind of a badass! She’s got adventure in her blood and her obsession with Scrooge and Donald’s past adventures is sure to bring a lot of the plots together.
Launchpad is played by SNL alum Beck Bennett. As with the nephews, I’m not totally sure how I feel about Beck’s take on the character. This first episode really plays Launchpad up as a total moron and I don’t really perceive Launchpad that way. As the series goes on, I’m sure things will come around and the character will make more sense. It doesn’t help that the Launchpad had snake venom coursing through his veins for the majority of his screen time which made him a little… crazy.
Mrs. Beakley is portayed by Toks Olagundoye. We don’t get a lot of details about her character in this episode but we can tell that she’s certainly more athletic and involved than her previous version and will probably play a much larger part on future adventures.
The episode: This episode has a lot of fun things going for it! The exposition that brings everyone together is funny and interesting. The action that we see in the second half of this episode is exciting and fun. As the writing of this episode goes, it’s top notch! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how they set the stage for this new series. The episode was jam packed with Easter Eggs as well! I won’t give most of them away but I was especially excited to not only hear the mention of St. Canard but to also hear the mention of Cape Suzette and Spoonerville! This kind of inside writing is clearly for fans of the Disney Afternoon!
I liked the design and personality of Flintheart and his cronies. I enjoyed the basic structure of two ducks battling it out to be richer than the other. It felt very “Barks”ian and as Disney ducks stories go, that is among the highest praise that I can give it! The designs of the background and the jokes all landed for the most part too. Plus, the ending of this episode drops a major hint at things to come. It looks as though this series is going to solve one of the biggest Disney mysteries of all time!
The overall: There has been a lot of joy, worry, panic and relief about the DuckTales reboot. Usually in that order. I think that what they did with this show is a nice call back to everything that Disney’s ducks have ever represented. There will always be nay-sayers but as a fan of the original and of the comic books I feel like they did a good job of blending both of those worlds together. Something that can also be said for this series is that the people who are writing it are obviously fans and that goes a long way.
I think the most damaging thing about this series is that they chose to call it “DuckTales” Perhaps if they had simply called it “Uncle Scrooge Adventures” or something along those lines it might have met less resistance. To name your show after one of the greatest cartoons ever created is going to open it up to all sorts of unfair comparisons. If they had simply let this show be its own thing it might have had less
criticism all around. But, then again, we’re talking about the internet. The place where most people use their soapbox to complain rather than praise.
Do I think this show deserves all the complaints? No, I do not. I think that this hour-long pilot is a great first chapter to a show that’s going to win over most that watch it. If not immediately, then over time and I, for one, am absolutely stoked to see where the show goes from here!
Episode rating: 4.5/5
4.5 out of 5