Re: the Disney list, any thoughts/opinions/rants about the "Ducktales" reboot?
As a matter of fact, yes! And those thoughts are basically all some variation of “I LOVE IT!”.
But since “I LOVE IT!” over and over again would be a pretty boring answer, I can try and get more specific:
JUST TO BE SAFE, SPOILER WARNING HERE!
For starters, the new voice cast is exceptional. I do understand some of the concerns that the nephews sound a bit too obviously like adults now, but I also feel like Bobby Moynihan as Louie, Daniel Pudi as Huey, and Ben Schwartz as Dewey all give strong performances that not only invest each character with more individual personality than other incarnations (something the show as a whole does pretty effectively, to my mind), but also work together to create an enjoyable, believable dynamic between the three that is every bit the original’s equal, even as it’s a very different take. Kate Micucci’s Webby, meanwhile, is really interesting; there’s a touch of Kristen Schaal’s iconic Mabel performance in there, to be sure, but Micucci infuses it with her own particular kind of energy, and while I do have some niggling concerns about how Webby’s been re-conceived (there’s a slight hint of the old “Not Like Other Girls” trope to it I’m not super into, and I feel like it dismisses some of the finer points of the original version along the way), Micucci smooths over basically all of them with her fantastic comic timing, her genuine and endearing enthusiasm, and her awkward, guileless forwardness in basically every interaction she has (and for that matter, taken on its own merits, I think the new Webby is pretty good overall; the choice to make her an enthused fan of Scrooge’s family especially feels like a smart choice in particular). Neither Beck Bennett’s Launchpad nor Toks Olagundoye’s Mrs. Beakley get that much to do in the only two full episodes we’ve seen thus far, but both acquit themselves admirably (and I am all about the new Beakley; the fact that she is maybe half-a-second away from kicking Scrooge’s ass at any point is just delightful to watch, and Olagundoye invests her with a fantastic balance of stoicisim and warmth I really appreciate), and at this point Tony Anselmo’s been playing Donald for so long I don’t imagine there’s that much new to say about him, but I do appreciate how well he handles the choice to play up Donald’s protectiveness toward his boys. The big one, though, is obviously David Tennant as Scrooge; he’s got big shoes to fill given how iconic Alan Young’s take on the character is, and to my mind he really does ace it; there’s enough of Young’s spirit in the performance that you can still feel this is the same character (especially when it comes to his affectionate musings about his beloved money bin), but Tennant carves his own mark equally effectively, and I really appreciate the slightly-more-puckish attitude he brings to the table, especially given the greater emphasis this version places on Scrooge as an Adventurer rather than simply a quadzillionaire businessduck.
In terms of the animation, I admit there are times where the flatter overall directing style in comparison to the original is a little hard for me to accept; the lack of much shading or lighting effects, the generally simplistic composition of scenes, that sort of thing. That said, as a whole I’d call myself a fan of the new art style; the comic book-esque touches to the color scheme (never mind the brilliant intro’s literal comic-book-pages conceit and various references to classic “Uncle Scrooge” paintings, you can see those classic four-color pigment dots all over the place if you’re looking for them, and the way ALL the colors pop so brightly is simply delightful) definitely all work, as do the newer, more angular character designs. As I said above, the choice to more individualize the nephews really works, and I’m especially fond of how simple but striking the visual element of that is, while giving Scrooge and Donald their iconic comic book color schemes (red coat with black trim for Scrooge, black-and-white sailor suit for Donald) likewise feels like a good choice, even as I’ll always miss both of their respective more blue-heavy versions. For that matter, I appreciate how many more variations of birds the animators are using this time around; Launchpad himself is rather more clearly a pelican this time, for example (in the original he seemed more like a duck with a big chin XD), and Gabby McStabberson (a wonderful new character I hope we see again soon, for the record) looks to be an osprey given her small, sharp beak. And the big set-pieces, in particular Scrooge riding the golden dragon through the city and Dewey crossing the booby-trapped bridge (with an unknown assist from Donald) do demonstrate a good sense of visual creativity and energy.
But the big thing for me is the writing. Honing in on the idea of Family as the center of the show is a great choice, not only allowing the characters to remain at the heart of the story no matter how wild the action gets but also allowing the new show to feel of a piece with the original, which definitely valued the peculiar structure of Scrooge’s family unit but only rarely made it the core of any given episode, while also allowing it an opportunity to make its own path. And the individual characters are all wonderfully handled; again, the nephews all have nice, new personalities (and for that matter, I appreciate that of the three it’s Dewey who gets to take center stage for the first two-part episode with his conflicted attitude towards Scrooge), Webby’s awkward stabs at socializing are adorable and endearing, as is the clear and obvious trust and affection she shares with Granny Beakley (even as we only get a brief glimpse of it, it comes through so clearly), and Launchpad works well as comic relief, especially given the effective choice to turn his history as a pilot into a minor running gag in the first episode before leading to maybe my favorite single joke of the whole thing thus far (”Aww, family truly is the greatest adventure ofohnotheground!!!”); more to the point, they strike the same balance for him here as in the original, allowing him to be comic and occasionally foolish without ever being buffoonish or unlikable. But maybe my personal favorites are Scrooge and Glomgold. Recasting Glomgold’s overt Scottishness-accent, kilt, cap-as an attempt on his part to apply the same philosophy he uses in his business-take someone else’s idea, do it cheaper, then claim it as your own-to his business rival, i.e. he’s a cartoon Scotsman because he sees that as Being Like Scrooge But More So, is a stroke of genius, and one the episode communicates surprisingly subtly (Glomgold only makes one overt reference to it in dialogue, so the audience has to infer it from combining that reference with the employee training video we see which outlines his business ideals to understand the idea) but no less effectively. Scrooge himself, meanwhile, is simply great; I was a bit nervous that the show’s choice to emphasize his adventuring over his philanthropy would sand too much of the edge off his character, and while this is perhaps a less-shielded Scrooge than previous versions, I can happily report that’s not the case; the zealous drive, the rough handling of personal relationships, the gruff attitude…it’s all still there, but channeled in a slightly new direction, and quite nicely at that. Plus, there’s lots of great little touches to this version I simply adore (the way we see him gently playing with some of his coins during a dull business meeting in particular). And on top of all that, the show seeds a longer overall story thread into things with a pretty nice cliffhanger; even as, at present, the answer to the question it poses would seem obvious (something happened to the nephews’ mom, and Scrooge and Donald each blame the other for it), I’m eager to learn more even so, especially because the show has already done a good job making the world it inhabits feel full of endless possibilities, so GETTING to that answer will all but certainly be sufficiently exciting.
“Ducktales” 2017 feels very much like the ideal way to restart this series, in other words. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s charming, and it does a good job modernizing the best elements of the original while still honoring them. I’ve very much enjoyed the first two episodes all four times I’ve watched them, and I’m exceptionally eager for the full series to start in the coming weeks.
Oh, and yes, it still has one humdinger of a theme song.