Why Ducktales is important
At least…If you like Disney Television Animation.
Which I do. Oh so much.
If you’re a fan of Gravity Falls, or Star vs. The Forces of Evil, or Wander Over Yonder, or Kim Possible, or Gargoyles, or any Disney Television show, then gather ‘round because I’m about to teach you some history.
“Never forget, that it all started with a Mouse,”~~Walt Disney.
Great things come from humble origins. Never forget that Disney TV…All started with a Duck.
It was the 1980s. Disney Television Animation was a new department at Walt Disney Studios. And Disney was suffering. These days it’s easy to think of Disney as a mega-giant, but back then, Disney was suffering. Movies were being produced on shoestring budgets, and animators (such as Don Bluth) were jumping ship to find work at studios that were paying better and producing better content. The Little Mermaid hadn’t yet hit theaters, sparking the Disney Renaissance. The fledgeling animation department had produced two shows prior, “The Wuzzles” and “The Adventures of Gummy Bears”.
Disney was in dire straights from Walt’s passing in 1966 left the studio suffering up until the 80s, when they started to take a few risks. Risks that paid off. The studio gambled on the idea that investing more money into quality animation would pay off in the long run if the show went into syndication. It was something that worked well with live action, but had yet to be done with animation to that degree. Cheap animation with tons of shortcuts could be syndicated, but something high-quality had never been done before.
Ducktales was the first show that attempted this, and it paid off handsomely. Not only was the show a hit with audiences (and a merchandising cash-cow) but it changed the game. It set the stage for the Disney Afternoon a few years down the road, and paved the path for every show I mentioned at the beginning. Without Ducktales, there would be no Gargoyles, no Star vs. The Forces of Evil, no Gravity Falls.
Heck, I take it even one step beyond that…Without the inspiration of proof-of-concept, I’d wager that even OTHER studios cartoon creations wouldn’t exist. No Animaniacs, No Adventure Time, no Steven Universe (and don’t think I missed the shout-out to Ducktales in “Onion Trade”)
Ducktales was important because it raised the craft of animation to another level, combining storytelling with good, non-repetitive animation to produce quality TV. For a time, Ducktales was Disney’s Flagship TV series, waving the banner and representing the company in the realm of television animation.
And even today, the classic Ducktales series holds up rather nicely. Sure, some things are a little dated, but at the end of the day, I enjoy watching Ducktales without reservations. That’s why I own the DVD sets.
And it’s why I’m so happy about this reboot.
This isn’t just a revamp of an old show. This is Disney returning to its roots, reclaiming a bit of it’s history and polishing it off for the next generation. I’m a little misty eyed. I had some initial misgivings when this was announced, but the cast announcement melted those fears away, and now, seeing the trailer that dropped less than 24 hours ago…I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for a TV series ever.
Breaking down this trailer, we finally hear David Tennant as Scrooge McDuck. I’ve actually been aware of Tennant’s presence in the voiceover scene for a few years now (Most notably, he plays bit parts in the How To Train Your Dragon franchise from Dreamworks) But hearing him as Scrooge…I really feel it works. He’s got a certain quality the echos the late, great Alan Young, and I feel like he couldn’t have been better cast without some of that good old fashioned Disney Necromancy (And as we know, they used up their allotment of Necromancy on Peter Cushing for Rogue One)
I love that the Nephews are getting unique characterization and personality. I loved Russi Taylor’s performance way back when, but one Nephew was really interchangeable with another. Dani Pudi, Ben Schwartz, and Chris Moynihan really bring an awesome chemistry to their roles, just from the trailer.
And then there’s Webbigail. Oh my God, I love how they’ve rebooted Webby. She was always the annoying load back in the classic series. Making her a Donald Duck fangirl is freaking GENIUS (and Kate Micucci is perfect for this role too) Bonus points given for Webby’s infamous “Quacky-Patch Doll” being used for dart practice in the background of her room. Webby has gone from outright “The Load” territory, to one of the most fun-seeming characters present in the reboot.
And all of this from one minute and a half trailer. I can’t wait for this series, even though I know I must. I know it’s gonna be something special, I can feel it. Maybe even Disney’s Flagship show, once again. Stay tuned to my Tumblr, for much, much more.
One thing I know for certain that I’m going to do when the pilot for this airs…A side by side comparison of the Classic Pilot and the new one.