Life is Like a Hurricane...
Ok. Let's start out by saying that I was skeptically nervous when they first announced that they were rebooting one of my all-time-favorite television shows as a child: DuckTales.
I mean, I loved this show. I own t-shirts from it. I used to have stuffed versions of Huey, Dewey and Louie that I carried with me around the house and called them "my boys." Cause apparently at 5 I wanted a posse. Yes, I may even have an old Scrooge toy from my childhood that sits on my desk at work. I still have/play the NES version of the video game... OK. You get the point. I loved DuckTales.
As the first glimmer of the reboot began to circulate (see above), i was worried. The art style, at first glance, looked like the new Mickey cartoons. Which, while I initially enjoyed, grew to hate as I watch them. Reminded me of Ren & Stimpy. Let's just say, those cartoons disappoint me. So was this what was to become of my beloved show? More content, and I was started to feel better. Even excited. On Saturday, it finally debuted. Here are my thoughts.
Like I said before, I was nervous about this. Not anymore. I LOVE IT. No, it's not exactly like stepping back into the 90s cartoon, but it is like stepping back into the 1950s comics with a 2017 twist. You can see this in the new opening, as characters jump in and out of comic book panels. Watch as the camera pans and you see the 50s comic art, including the halftone dots that appear as shadowing. I sat back and just drank in the beauty of it. Where the old version used the faux 3D style, our reboot embraces the 2D and says "this is what a Carl Barks comic looks like animated." So, as a graphic designer: I'm in love with the choices they made.
The characters are not a perfect translation of the ones we grew up on. Webby isn't the token girl. She's an adventurer. The nephews aren't completely interchangeable. They have personalities, desires, and different goals. This will make for a much better show, and I'll elaborate on that soon. The inclusion of Donald hearkens back to the original comics, not the show, but I don't mind this. What I like is that Donald is DISTINCTLY Donald. Not some modern version. He's angry. He's almost down right inaudible. I've read some complain about this, and I can understand why. However, I feel like it's the same way he was in the shorts I watched as a kid, his minor appearances in the original show, and even Mickey's Christmas Carol. Launchpad isn't.... nope... he's still exactly as Launchpad should be. Beakley in the most interesting development, as she's gone from an hysteric maid to a BA Bodygaurd type character. I'm not sure how I feel about this, and only time will tell.
It parallels the original well. Donald hands the nephews off to a reluctant Scrooge. Scrooge is kind of a jerk. Boys are stuck in a crummy room and want to know/impress Scrooge. Soon Scrooge softens to them, discovers an adventure, and takes his nephews along. Originally they go for the the Treasure of the Golden Sun in a 5 part miniseries. Here we have an extended 1-hour episode hunting for Atlantis. It's similar enough, but not a carbon copy. We have a new origin story. We see how the nephews really affect Scrooge, and why his heart softens for them. In reality, it's a much more intricate origin despite being 90 minutes shorter, and because the characters have more depth, it's much more engaging.
Nostalgia vs New
This is the big one. Will it work for the 90s kid? Will it work for my kids? Short answer: Yes. I believe so.
- Already we see some hidden nostalgia gems. Probably too many for me to have caught with my first viewing. Almost right away we hear a reference to Cape Suzette, our beloved city from Talespin. Appearances in the garage for both the magic lamp and the head of Armstrong gives me a wink that says "Yes, this show is meant for you." I can't wait to see what other bits they throw our way.
- There's enough of the original triplets, mainly their mischievous nature, to feel like the original, while providing unique personalities that I'd want from characters from any show I'd watch as an adult. These updates to the nephews & webby allow for interactions, humor, and character growth that a nostalgic adult will understand, while still remaining silly enough to make my kids laugh. Sure, we often laughed at different moments, but we both laughed. Now, this isn't the low-brow adult humor that I refer to as "Dreamworks" humor. We didn't "adultify" Ducktales. Think more "Phineas & Ferb." It doesn't rely on hidden dirty innuendo, but rather clever wit and timing: "You're here because you're the cheapest of the best."
- Launchpad is Launchpad. He didn't need to change. He shouldn't have changed. So I'm glad he didn't. He's the same absolutely lovable and bumbling idiot he was before. Slapstick for the kids. Slapstick for me. He's summed up in the line from the show: "You know, family really is the greatest adven... OH NO THE GROUND!!" The delivery is perfect. I laugh every time I've seen that clip. Every. Time.
- After it was finished I was ready for more.
- After it was finished, my kids asked "Can we watch more?.
And there it is. I wanted more. My kids wanted more. In a world where reboots have been pretty terrible, DuckTales KNOCKS IT OUT OF THE PARK. It felt like it took a lesson from Girl Meets World (which I also thought was a pretty decent reboot), but also figured out how to improve upon that formula. Because it's hard for me to criticize this at all. I wanna re-watch it. I wanna see more. I want to watch every episode with my kids.