Remakes of classic shows are never easy, and the developers of the relaunched Ducktales cartoons were taking a considerable gamble- enough to the point where Disney decided to air the pilot, “Woo-oo!”, for a 24-hour marathon. If these first two episodes are any indication, it’s paid off for them. There is a slightly droller tone to the humor than the 1987 version. Outside of that, it isn’t as far removed from the original one as I imagined it’d be, which specialized in off-the-wall adventure stories with either a comedic or dramatic bent.
Its basic premise is ideal for weird events like Scrooge fighting a gold-devouring dragon, things that wouldn’t feel too out of place in a major Gravity Falls or Adventure Time episode. Ducktales was so influential that the showrunners didn’t need to tweak the original formula much at all to have it hold up in modern times.
When I watched the original show as a kid, even though I generally liked Huey, Dewey and Louie as characters, I saw them not as individuals but as a collective personality. There wasn’t much distinction between the two outside of the colors of their outfits. Quack Pack, a short lived series featuring Donald raising his nephews as a cameraman, also made an attempt to update the kids, but it unfortunately went overboard and brought them into full-bore 90’s cheese. The writers turned the slang up to eleven, and they came off like products of a focus group.
This time, their designs, like most of the cast, are styled more towards the original Carl Barks comics with slight updates to make them look more contemporary. It’s the new voice cast that is the real difference maker- Ben Schwartz gives Dewey a considerable amount of charisma, as here he’s been recast as the most adventurous nephew- watching him dance through laser traps in an ancient temple is adorable and hilarious.
Danny Pudi’s Huey is more organized and the least spontaneous, the most inclined to follow the Junior Woodchuck guidebook. Bobby Moynihan’s Louie has no issue with teaching Webbigal (Kate Micucci) how to be a better liar, while she’s far more action-oriented than the precocious girl from the old show. Even though they’re ducks, this time they genuinely feel like real kids.
Their overprotective uncle Donald plays a larger role from before, reluctantly dropping the boys off to stay with Scrooge McDuck (David Tennant) while he applies for an account position at a prominent company. Scrooge has no idea said company is owned by his long time rival Flintheart Glomgold (Keith Ferguson), too preoccupied with planning a trip to the sunken city of Atlantis in search of a jewel. When he decides to bring along the kids and their (still inept) pilot Launchpad (Beck Bennett), it segues into a fun arc between him, Donald and Dewey (who receives the most character development in the pilot) that hints at Donald’s background as an explorer.
“Woo-ooo!” never becomes melodramatic at any point, but the stories of Scrooge developing a closer relationship with Huey, Dewey and Louie alongside Donald stepping back and letting the boys learn things on their own are unexpectedly touching. David Tennant never tries to copy Alan Young’s Scrooge and he doesn’t need to, his version of the character is very appealing. It sounds a little softer than before but still has a good confident presence.
Tony Anselmo’s Donald Duck has that usual high pitched quack, but he’s not too hard to understand during his exposition. Ferguson’s Glomgold, who is still Scottish and not the South African he was in the comics, gets some of the funnier lines in the movie, my favorite in particular pertaining to treasure’s worth.
The two-part tale moves at a considerably quick pace, at least when compared to the first series. The high quality of the animation combined with the frequency of the jokes allows the writers to pack in a lot of content. There are a various amount of adventures jammed in here that will easily give these two episodes a ton of replay value, and it also indicates the writing staff has plenty of ideas at their disposal to play with in episodes down the road. I can easily recommend this, it’s a great reintroduction for some iconic Disney characters to a new audience.