today's classic

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.  

Peace out, 

Disney Wizard

2

So a friend talked with me about a Music Camp he was in, and I immediately thought of Camp Camp.

I don`t know why, but I`d like to think that Max is a child that would like playing the violin? But his parents had to high standards for him to reach, so his self-estem kinda went down the drain, even though he`s actually really good and enjoys playing!

If anyone ever complains about celebrity culture today, or despairs at how we’re all obsessed with actors, just hit them with some facts about acting in Imperial Rome:

  • Romans were obsessed with actors called pantomimes, masked, silent dancers who told stories through movement, not unlike our modern ballet dancers. You might not think that sounds exciting, but people went apeshit over them.
  • Seriously. People formed fan clubs for their favourite pantomimes. There is an inscription on a wall in Pompeii that gives endorsement to a political candidate from the Paridiani - the fan club of the pantomime Paris. The Paridiani were like the ancient equivalent of our Hiddlestoners and Cumberbitches.
  • These fan clubs could get really, really violent. They formed factions that would sit together at the theatre, and brawls often broke out as they fought over their favourites. (For some reason, riots hardly ever occurred at the amphitheatre, where people were getting murdered and torn apart by beasts, but at the theatre, where they were watching ballet dancers of all things, riots broke out all the time. Unbelievable.)
  • In 14 CE the populace rioted when one of the pantomime actors hired for the Augustalia refused to perform unless his pay was increased; the tribunes had to request an emergency meeting of the Senate so they could beg for more money before the people tore them apart. (Dio 56.47.2).
  • I cannot overstate how serious some of these theatre riots were. In Tiberius’ reign, it is believed that the rivalry between the pantomime fan clubs was the biggest threat to law and order in the city of Rome. They were so bad they required Senate intervention. Actors were targeted and punished for inflammatory behaviour, expenditure on entertainment was slashed, and the crowd was brought to heel by threats of exile for disorderly conduct. They were threatened with exile to stop the fighting. Suddenly the Cumberbitches don’t seem so bad.
  • Sometimes the rioting and the licentious behaviour of the actors meant that emperors would banish entire theatre troupes from the city of Rome, or from Italy itself, to keep order.
  • The rivalry between the actors themselves was no less intense. At one performance, the pantomime Pylades heckled his rival (and former pupil) Hylas, who was playing Blinded Oedipus, by calling out “You’re seeing!”
  • In another story, Pylades was playing Insane Hercules when the spectators heckled him for using inappropriate gestures. Pylades ripped off his mask and yelled, “Fools! I am playing a madman!” and tried to fight the audience. (Macrob Sat. 2.7.15-17.)
  • This same Pylades (he got around a lot) also shot actual poisoned arrows into the audience when he was playing Hercules.
  • Similarly, the tragic actor Aesopus (not a pantomime) is said to have gotten so into his role as the villain Atreus that he actually killed one of the servants crossing the stage.
  • Emperor Caligula was so passionate about acting that when a clap of thunder interrupted the performance of his favourite pantomimes, he tried to fight the sky. Seneca says: “Emperor Caligula was angry with heaven because it kept drowning out his pantomime actors… and when his revelry was terrified by lightning bolts (which must have fallen short of their mark!) he called on Jupiter for a fight to the death, exclaiming the Homeric verse: “Either lift me up, or I will lift you!” (De Ira, 1.20.8).
  • Many emperors and aristocrats had pantomimes as boyfriends (Maecenas, Caligula, Nero, etc.) Those chosen as imperial consorts were the best of the best; it would be like monarchs or presidents today taking Oscar winners as their lovers. Tom Hanks and Vladimir Putin, anyone?
  • Certain emperors became so caught up in the celebrity and entertainment-fuelled culture of Imperial Rome that they started acting themselves (something that was hugely degrading for any freeborn person, but especially an aristocrat or an emperor to do). Caligula was assassinated when he was on his way to the theatre, to prevent him from making his public debut as an actor. The famous Nero often performed and acted in tragedies, weirdly enough, while wearing masks fashioned after his own face, or (if he were playing a woman’s role) after the face of his dead wife Poppaea, whom he kicked to death. Nero was so into performing that he forced people to stay and watch him, and there are (probably exaggerated) stories of women giving birth and men shamming death so they could escape because no one was allowed to leave. (Could you even imagine Barack Obama starring in Broadway shows? Or Queen Elizabeth spending her nights playing Lady Macbeth at the Globe? Incredible.)
  • People complain today about girls being obsessed with actors, but it was the same in Rome. Juvenal says: “When nancy-boy Bathyllus is dancing the Leda pantomime, Tuccia wets herself. Apula whimpers, just as if she were in a man’s embrace, drawn-out and with sudden anguish.” (Satires, 6.63-5). I need a cold shower.
  • Another, humorous description of female infatuation with actors: “Some women burn for sordid folks and cannot rouse desire unless they see either slaves or servants in short tunics. The arena ignites some, or a mule-driver flooded with dust, or an actor made low by exhibiting himself on stage. My mistress is one of these; she jumps all the way from the orchestra and the first fourteen rows and with the plebs in the upper seats seeks what she loves. (Petronius, Satyricon, 126).
  • Empresses were not immune either, and pantomimes were involved in sex scandals at the highest level. The Empress Messalina forcibly seduced Mnester; the Empress Domitia Longina seduced Paris. (Both of the actors were executed.)
  • And that doesn’t even scratch the surface!

In conclusion, if you think our modern obsession with celebrities or the tendency for teenage girls to obsess over actors is in any way new, think again. This has been happening since the years BC. It happened in Greece, it happened in Rome, it happened in Shakespeare’s time. At every point in history, people have been obsessed with actors and celebrities. Just be grateful we don’t have to watch our world leaders acting anymore.

  • What you think playing Mozart would be like: Ahh I am at peace, floating on a cloud while I play these simple yet perfect melodies. What a lovely way to enjoy classical music
  • What playing Mozart is actually like: I have been practicing these 3 crotchets for over half an hour now AND THEY'RE STILL NOT RIGHT ARGHHHHH