When the trailer for the DuckTales 2017 revamp dropped, the fandom rejoiced. Staff member Jordan Calhoun went into fandom induced shock while reviewing the trailer. Me? I was pretty meh. I remember the original DuckTales. It was cool, yet, this wasn’t a reboot I was going to go out of my way to catch. I’ll see it when I see it, right?
Through chance or divine intervention, there happened to be a marathon on when I was visiting my brother over Thanksgiving. As I sat watching the first episode with my nieces and nephew, once it finished, I realized the folly of my ways. I had let the jadedness of tainted nostalgia cloud my judgment. With my optimism restored, I watched another episode. And another.
The food was ready but I said “I’m good. Scrooge McDuck is going through it right now”. I finished the marathon and said, “This is how you revamp. This is how you reboot in order to pay homage. I felt Jordan’s Force spirit next to me saying, “Do you see? DO YOU SEE?” I see! I see!
It’s been too long. It’s family reunion.
The characters of DuckTales have an extended history dating back to the original show as well as the Scrooge McDuck comicbooks. Family plays a crucial role and sets the foundation for the show. Huey (my guy, Danni Pudi), Duey (Ben Schwartz), and Louie (Bobby Moynihan) each have a vastly different and distinct personality that sets them apart from one another this time around. They’re all still adventurous troublemakers at heart.
Donald Duck is their overbearing Uncle having to leave them in the care of his uncle Scrooge McDuck (David Tennant) for a spell. The nephews already know Scrooge was a famous adventurer. Louie hits him with the “You used to be a big deal, what happened to you?” line colder than a Klondike. This awakens Scrooge and gets him back in the game with Launchpad (Beck Bennett) in tow.
Now, I’ve always been a Donald Duck fan. It isn’t until his nephews meet Webby Vanderquack (Kate Micucci) that they realize how big of a deal Donald is. “Donald Duck is one of the most daring adventurers of all time!” Webby is putting respect on the name of Donald Duck as he served in the U.S. Navy and got a legit honorable discharge. This time around there is a lot of animosity between Scrooge and Donald and it’s brilliant.
Donald used to be Scrooge’s sidekick until something happened. We caught a glimpse as Donald berates Scrooge for putting the boys in danger saying, “This is the Spear of Selene all over again!” “I was not responsible for the Spear of Selene!” Scrooge retorts. Later, Dewey catches wind of an old painting. He finds in it a third adventurer with Scrooge and Donald, someone that Dewey (and fans) is shocked to see. His mother, Della Duck.
Turn my intersectional feminism up
This is where the show had me—Della Duck’s backstory getting updated into lore (more on her later). Other great character updates on the show involve Webby and Mrs. Beakley (Toks Olagundoye). Fam, Beakley isn’t the maid in this iteration. She’s the housekeeper and jokes about being a spy. That woman is clearly an active or retired spy, man. Beakley is on more of the adventures this time around, and she’s clearly got military training, tactics, and fighting techniques. Plus, her dry humor is great.
I love that she’s being played by a Nigerian actress. Beakley is winning in this incarnation. The best part is she’s taught her granddaughter Webby (whom I mentioned earlier) all those military tactics. Dude, Webby is my favorite character. She’s not only battle-ready for every situation, she’s a historian. She’s been following the McDuck family line (a hobby since she lives on the compound) and is the only one that can give an inkling of a clue to Dewey about the third adventurer, Della Duck. What I love about Webby is she’s too efficient for her own good at times.
She’s got all the tools to defend herself and be independent. However, she doesn’t know what it’s like to have friends since she’s led a sheltered life. The nephews help her out there, and she even gets a friend of her own in Lena (Kimiko Glenn). I love how socially lost Webby can be and yet, she is the freaking Splinter Cell of the crew with that grappling gun. I’m rockin’!
Kiss the ring and pay homage
Back to the plot, show developers Matt Youngberg and Francisco Angones are really out solving mysteries and re-w… you know the rest. Della Duck has been a legit mystery in the comics for over 80 years. The McDucks/Ducks clan have a long and extensive family tree. The exploration of this is what gives the series the breath of new life. I’m also a sucker for discovering an obscure character’s backstory.
The mark of great writing comes two-fold. One in creating, and the other in building off a history that’s been established—paying homage while paving a new path. DuckTales in 2017 is full of homages.
There’s an incredible episode with Webby and Lena escaping the Beagle Boys as an ode to The Warriors. I watched it unfold like “Is this? No, no it can’t be.” But it was! Again, There’re numerous odes to the original series and comics. We get an appearance from Gyro Gearloose (Jim Rash) and a hint to the creation of Gizmoduck (Lin-Manuel Miranda).
Oh, you got jooooookes?
With all these homages, odes, and new character development, DuckTales doesn’t slack odd in the comedy. Fam, the show is hilarious and full of one-liners from everyone.
Scrooge: Santa Clause is not allowed in my home… He knows what he did.
Scrooge: We’re going to outdo that quitter Mallardy and make it to the top.
Louie: You realize there is a difference between quitting and dying, right?
Scrooge: Not to me.
Huey: The foyer is a safe zone. The foyer is a safe zone!
Webby: This is no foyer. This is a tomb.
*nerf guns go off in the distance*
Scrooge: Ha-haaaa… A tomb.
Even with the humor, we get lessons of insight and emotion. Scrooge takes the kids to Mt. Neverrest to right a blemish on his past. It’s Huey’s intervention that calms his pride and has him realize there are times when you must accept how far you’re able to go. The nephews aren’t just learning from Scrooge, he’s learning from them as well.
With so much personality, what do you want from me?
I’m almost bewildered that this is only season one. The show has been renewed for a second season. We know we got Gizmoduck coming. There’s even a Darkwing Duck appearance that’s supposed to happen. The show has touched on so many other locations of the Duck Universe while leaving viewers with an over-arching mystery that still needs to be unraveled. That’s not even half of all the things I’m purposefully leaving out. You can tell this is a new installation created by fans, for fans.
That being said, this DuckTales reboot serves as the perfect love letter to the original source material and map for the worldbuilding of the DuckTales universe. Look no further for the template on how you do a reboot and a series justice than this show right here.
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