Disney XD viewers got plenty of chances to pay a visit to Duckburg Saturday, as an hour-long peek at the new DuckTales series was featured continuously throughout the day. This much-anticipated animated series, featuring David Tennant voicing Scrooge McDuck, is much closer to its comic book roots.
When the does actual season begin and how can we watch it?
The Aug. 12 kick-off included and hour-long special on Disney XD, but the season debut is Sept. 23 on Disney XD and Disney VOD, the date of the 30th anniversary of the original series premiere.
Disney XD is also letting fans watch this first full episode via YouTube, for those who missed it.
Do you need to catch up on the original series episodes?
Not at all! This new series is a complete do-over.
When we meet Donald on houseboat, he is extremely reluctant to leave his three nephews alone while getting ready to head off to an interview for a much-needed job. His only option is to have his estranged Uncle Scrooge look over them for the day. We learn the nephews have never met Scrooge, but know his reputation a former world adventurer well), and that Donald hasn’t seen him for some time, due to some sort of falling out.
The boys meet Webby (housekeeper Mrs. Beakley’s granddaughter), who is a duck family fanatic who knows Scrooge’s family history better than just about anyone. Scrooge himself has been feeling a bit past his prime, and when Webby and the boys stumble upon some relics of Scrooge’s past, the wanderlust for the old days returns. First stop: The Lost City of Atlantis. Donald’s interview, by the way, turns out to be working for one of Scrooge’s many “sworn enemies,” Flintheart Glomgold, who also has his sites set on Atlantis.
That being said, the Emmy-Award winning original series, which ran from 1987 to 1990, helped spawn the Disney Afternoon lineup of the late 80s, the theatrical feature DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp. You don’t need to see the original series to know what is happening, but that doesn’t mean you can go back and enjoy them.
Will my kids like it?
Very much. It’s goofy, lively, and the one-liners come at you fast. The back-and-forth between the nephews is filled with snappy sarcasm, and there’s plenty of eye candy to keep everyone entertained. Scrooge delivers some great lines: “(Flintheart Glomgold) is like the poor man’s version of me, which in all fairness still makes him insanely rich.”
Donald’s too-quick temper hearkens to the hilarious Donald Duck shorts of the past.
DuckTales, as well as all of Uncle Scrooge’s and the Duck Family comic adventures, has always been a treat for all ages. This is one of for families to watch together.
Will fans of Carl Barks’s original comics like it?
Yes, especially if they look closely at Scrooge’s home. It is filled with paintings that resemble Bark’s own duck paintings, among other shout outs to Barks’s stories and characters.
Another positive for Barks fans is Donald may have a more significant presence in this new series. The original DuckTales, for all intents and purposes, replaced Donald with the character Launchpad (Donald was only seen in about nine of the more than 50 original DuckTales episodes). That always made the original DuckTales feel like it was missing something. He appears to be back and in full, explosively cranky form.
Is David Tennant a worthy successor to Alan Young as the voice of Scrooge McDuck?
Tennant has inherited privilege of voicing the head duck from long-time actor Alan Young, who first voiced in 1983’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and continued to portray him the original DuckTales, as well as in several other television series and video games for more than 30 years. His last credited portrayal of Scrooge was in 2016, for animated Mickey Mouse shorts. Young passed away in May of 2016.
Tennant’s scrooge is nearly as energetic as Tennant himself, and you can tell he is happy to be able to hold nothing back with his full Scottish accent for the show. He does an exceptional job, and I would love to hear his wonderful voice stay associated with Scrooge McDuck for some time to come.
How are the other voice talents?
The biggest change, voice wise, is Huey, Dewey and Louie are no longer just three less volatile Mini-Mes of Donald in different-hued shirts. The “duck voices” have been ditched. Each is given enough of their own look and personality, as well as their own distinct voice, to tell them apart. In addition, Webby’s character is more evolved than the earlier show, and is the ultimate Duck family superfan craving some excitement. Unfortunately, her grandma, Scrooge’s housekeeper Mrs. Beakley, is just a tad overprotective.
The actors behind the nephews Danny Pudi (Huey), Ben Schwartz (Dewey), Bobby Moynihan (Louie), along with Kate Micucci (Webby) and Toks Olagundove (Mrs. Beakley), play off each other well, making for an incredibly talented ensemble cast.
Beck Bennett’s Launchpad McQuack is consistently funny, in a clueless but lovable way. There’s one scene where he’s writing some “sorry I crashed my plane into your car” notes that made everyone in our family laugh.
One continuing voice from the original series is Tony Anselmo, a Disney animator who was trained by Donald’s original voice man, Clarence Nash. Although it’s refreshing to hear some distinction between the nephews, Donald really needs to keep that classic voice. I would just be wrong is he didn’t. Little tip for those who aren’t fluid in classic Donald: use the subtitles, if you can.
What familiar characters are returning from the old series?
From the looks of it, most of them.
In the kick-off show we only meet Scrooge, Donald and his nephews, Webby, Mrs. Beakley, Launchpad, and Glomgold, but other characters have been promised — and cast — for future episodes, including Ludwig Von Drake (Corey Burton), Goldie O’Gilt (Allison Janney), Gyro Gearloose (Jim Rash), Gizmoduck (Lin-Manuel Miranda), and Glandstone Gander (Paul F. Tompkins).
Webby also mentions another of Scrooge’s rivals, Ma Beagle, who was voiced in the original series by the voice legend June Foray (who died last month at age 99). The new series will feature Margo Martindale in the role. Foray also voiced Magica De Spell and Mrs. Featherby for the original series, but we’ll have to see if either of them, especially Magica, make appearances in the new series.
There’s one more member of the Duck family mentioned towards the end of the first episode, but their appearance (or disappearance) is a mystery.
How is the animation quality?
The original series of DuckTales animation was high quality, but this new series is much, much truer to the Carl Barks comic book world from which Scrooge was born. The lines are sharper and heavier, the characters are more stylized, and the background is busy and detailed, much like the world of Uncle Scrooge Adventures Barks was famous for creating. The look is clean, vibrant and fun, and the colors and costumes of Donald and Scrooge more closely resemble the nostalgic comic book characters. No more blue and red lounge coats for Scrooge…I hope.
Finally, is there any educational value for parents?
One of the things that drew me into the world of Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics as a child was the element of folklore and legends in the story. The kick off episode did take the group to the Lost City of Atlantis in search of treasure, but dealt primarily with establishing story set up for the characters. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more of the world (or worlds) from Scrooge’s adventures when the series gets going in September.
As far as “teachable moments,” whether intended or not, we learned:
- Respect your elders, they still have much to offer.
- Every kid needs their own space once in a while, as well as a chance to prove themselves.
- Family is the real treasure. Awww.
Of course, we also learned if you want to learn about someone or something; consult the fangirls and fanboys. They’ve done their research and know of which they speak. Right, Webby?
Really, though, DuckTales looks to be just a fun way to journey around with the Duck Family and have a few laughs. If this first look is any indication, it will be an adventure worth taking.