I finally got the chance to see the first episode of the new Ducktales. It was a big part of my childhood and without doubt my favorite Disney cartoon of all times. You can see it yourself for free on the Disney XD youtube channel if you are in US or have a US proxy/VPN.
I am very conflicted. I liked parts of it. I liked the art – new times and new tastes call for new art. I liked the voice acting – new and capable actors to keep things fresh BUT the writing seemed off on many fronts, that I am reluctant to suggest it to those who have seen and loved the old one.
There was a hint of slapstick about the demeanor of the characters, although that is most definitely an outcome of my biggest issue – the writing. One large adventure looms and then smaller problems appear but are dealt with in the most lackadaisical attitude. I get that there will be comedy in cartoons, but Ducktales never endeared itself to me because of how funny it was, but because it spoke so well to the sense of adventure and danger in me. Heck, there is danger and adventure in the title song (which gets a new and good rendition as well), and yet there is the barest minimum to setup the adventure, and more time dedicated to the slapstick going-ons during it (‘are we there yet’ jokes are pretty old now). Many impossible adventures during the long (funny because they spend a really long time to establish that the travel is long) travel is implied but ends up as nothing more than a video montage. They travel to a grand location but almost zero time is spent in establishing the wonder of such a location or of such a challenge before them, which promptly devolves into more clichéd comedy. They go into a room full of gold but Scrooge McDuck doesn’t even consider picking up a single piece of gold! let alone trying to bring it all back to Duckburg. It introduces Flintheart Glomgold, but there is no sense of sinister about him, just more of a goofball. Hell, even Donald seemed more capable than Flintheart.
Webby Vanderquack sees a major change from the original series. Lets say, considerable time is spent on establishing the fact that she is not someone who likes cute and cuddly but is very butch indeed, more butch than the Woodchuck triplets. The same goes towards Mrs. Beakley who is apparently very happy indeed that Webby is going on dangerous and potentially lethal adventures without her. Anyone who has seen the original series knows that on many an occasion Webby has saved everyone’s tails by taking the soft approach, but has rarely gotten the recognition. I like that the modern one changes that but the blatant nature of it gets weary just as it becomes surprising when suddenly she goes missing from the center stage. That last one may be harsh just yet, as the same happens with two of the triplets as well. Overall I felt there was a serious lack of soft, and assuming that they have consciously made the decision to make things more inclusive and representative, I don’t see how it is achieved by implying that EVERYONE needs to be butch about EVERYTHING. I would have preferred the old Webby but this time with the deserved recognition. I would prefer to teach kids that they can achieve anything no matter who they are rather than that everyone must be more like boys. Perhaps I am projecting too much, do let me know once you have seen the episode yourself.