ducktales

Somehow, it's been two and a half years since Disney announced the classic toon DuckTales was getting modernized for today's audiences, but it's finally here. One might expect, with so many reboots and revivals already filling out TV schedules, that this fine-feathered update would get lost in the hubbub, but that would be a mistake most fowl, er, foul. With a renewed focus that recaptures what makes Carl Barks' comics still so fantastic, DuckTales is packed with action, adventure and fast-paced humor that all ages can and will enjoy, even the Scroogiest of Scrooges.

DuckTales thankfully isn't trying to reinvent the wheel in terms of its characters and set-up, but it does have to start somewhere, right? When we first touch base with Donald Duck and his trio of wisecracking nephews, the dutiful uncle isn't heading to the U.S. Navy, but rather taking a new job that requires him to seek the child-watching assistance of his own uncle, the insanely wealthy Scrooge McDuck. And when Huey, Dewey and Louie arrive at the massive McDuck Manor, they meet up with soon-to-be new friend Webby, her grandmother (and Scrooge's maid) Mrs. Beakley and the blunderful pilot Launchpad McQuack. It's not the whole gang just yet, but this core group of familiars is more than enough to entertain everyone.

To go too deeply into the story at hand would diminish one's fresh-eyed enjoyment, but the intro-duck-tory thrust of DuckTales sees Scrooge and Donald reconnecting after a decade of not speaking to one another. We (and the boys) soon learn that the silent treatment was somehow the result of the treasure-seeking and monster-thwarting adventures they went on for years. But what went on back then?

McDuck Manor is filled with relics and memories tied back to those days, and the extremely sheltered Webby has made it her mission to vicariously live through those golden years by figuring out what happened and connecting all the other dots for the family's history. (There is definitely stuff to nerd out on involving a True Detective-style bulletin board.) And while Scrooge initially plays to his name early on, the enthusiastic interest of the four children -- combined with Dewey's inability to not cause mischief -- inspires a refreshed sense of adventure in Scrooge that won't soon get shrouded again.

Perhaps the biggest reason why it's so easy to fall back in with DuckTales is because of the star-studded cast voicing all these characters. At the top, we get a fantastic version of Uncle Scrooge as voiced by Doctor Who and Jessica Jones vet David Tennant. Community alum Danny Pudi voices Huey, Parks and Recreation's Ben Schwartz is Dewey, while now-former SNL star Bobby Moynihan is Louie. Kate Micucci, one half of the comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates, voices Webby, Castle vet Toks Olagundoye is Mrs. Beakley, and current SNL star Beck Bennett plays Launchpad. And 32 years after he first took the gig, actor Tony Anselmo is back as the official voice of Donald Duck.

DuckTales get its update from Matt Youngberg, known more for Ben 10 and superhero cartoons, and Francisco Angones, a former writer for Wander Over Yonder. And while the show immediately feels timeless in many ways, no one is going to be mistaking it for the original, and part of that is because of the new animation style, which manages to be tight and crisp, as well as warm and flowing, regardless of whether the characters are sitting around or are in full-motion beneath the high seas. The new iteration of the classic theme song will also remind viewers that this isn't the old school version.

I haven't talked about DuckTales' humor that much, but this is easily one of the funniest kid-oriented animated series I've seen in a while, with jokes that run the gamut from word-play to visual jokes to editing gags and more. And none of it feels insincere to the brand, and everything remains wholesome throughout.

As the wait for DuckTales' premiere went on, appreciation for this side of the Disney-verse was renewed, and even the video game got to make a comeback. But even if today's young generations somehow go their whole lives without ever checking out the original series, no regrets should be had, so long as they watch this one. Disney XD's DuckTales is the rare TV remake that is just as fun and memorable as the first, if not more so, and we're hoping this one can last even longer. Woo-oo!

9 / 10 stars
Rating: movie reviewed rating

Don't get your feathers all ruffled, because DuckTales kicks off with an hour-long premiere on Disney XD starting Saturday, August 12, at 12:00 a.m. PT. And don't worry if you can't catch it immediately, as it will be airing ALL DAY LONG for a full 24-hour block. (It's that good, people.) The weekly episodes will kick off on Saturday, September 23. And when you're needing something else to catch up on after swimming around in gold coins all day, head to our summer premiere schedule and our fall TV schedule.

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