SPOILERS FOR DUCKTALES 2017 TO FOLLOW

DUCKTALES 2017 is a reboot of the unforgettable 1987 cartoon DUCKTALES, an animated series based off Carl Barks’ classic UNCLE SCROOGE comics. So, as someone who has never seen the 1987 series nor read the comics, I thought I would be perfect to review the first episode of DUCKTALES 2017, especially since everyone else already released their reviews when the show came out two weeks ago.

Voice Actors In The Duck Cartoon

If you have seen the show, you might have noticed that Huey, Louie, Dewey, and Webby do not sound like kids. In fact, to be honest, they sound like nasally voiced adults. However, what you might not know is that you have probably seen these nasally voiced adults in other shows.

Ducktales 2017

Huey (red) is voiced by Abed from COMMUNITY. Dewey (blue) is voiced by Jean-Ralphio from PARKS AND RECREATION. Louie (green) is voiced by the guy who played Drunk Uncle on WEEKEND UPDATE. Webby’s voice actress was on SCRUBS a couple of times.

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If nasally voiced adults voicing children are not your thing, don’t worry. There are other relatively famous live action actors in the main cast. Scrooge McDuck himself was voiced by David Tennant, who’s apparently well-known for being in stuff I have not seen.

Plot Synopsis

If you have not seen it yet, Disney XD has posted the entire first episode of DUCKTALES 2017 on their YouTube channel. It has been up there for more than a week, so this article will have spoilers from here on out. Donald Duck lives on a houseboat with his three nephews: Dewey (the insecure one), Louie (the smug one), and Huey (the one with the hat).

Ducktales 2017

Donald’s unemployed at the moment, probably because of his uncontrollably short temper and the fact that he lives on a houseboat. It could also be because nobody understands that half-quack half-speech thing he does when he talks.

Moving on, Huey, Dewey, and Louie managed to trick the babysitter Donald had hired into stranding herself in the middle of nowhere. They did this as part of their plan to hotwire the houseboat while Donald was at his job interview. This is a bad example to set for children.

READ: Maturity in Children’s Cartoons is important, and here’s why.

Luckily, Donald is a semi-competent parent. So he catches the triplets before they can do anything and leaves them at his estranged uncle’s house.

Scrooge McDuck

So it turns out said estranged uncle is super-adventurer mega-billionaire Scrooge McDuck. We are also introduced to Scrooge’s employees Mrs. Beakley and Launchpad Mcquack. Mrs. Beakley is a maid who hates being treated like a secretary. Launchpad is a personal driver who’s bad at driving. Both of them have Johnny Bravo-style proportions where their upper bodies are buff, but their legs are tiny by comparison. I think Scrooge has a type.

Ducktales 2017

The triplets are not that muscular though, so Scrooge locks them in an empty room. However, they are crafty little twerps, so they escape into a garage filled with mystical artifacts. They then meet Beakley’s granddaughter Webby, who’s desperate to make friends.

Ducktales 2017

There’s a bunch of youths in a room full of mystical artifacts, so naturally, demons get summoned. Most of them are easily vanquished when Scrooge shows up, except for this dragon who’s really into gold. This leads to the kids teaming up with Scrooge to take it down.

Scrooge kills the dragon for trying to get into his hoard of gold; which is ironic because if you know your fantasy cliches, it is usually the other way around. The takeaway from this is that if someone owns a hoard of gold, he or she will murder you for it.

Anyways, Scrooge has been going through whatever the old person equivalent of mid-life crisis is, so he is pretty happy that he is still capable of defending his gold hoard. In fact, he is so pumped up about it that he immediately takes the kids on a submarine trip to Atlantis.

Atlantis

When Scrooge and company get to Atlantis, they find out that due to a design error the sunken city was turned upside down. However, that plot point gets contradicted by a death trap they come across later that is right side up.

Ducktales 2017

Now, it is possible that the hypothetical Atlantean engineers simply added this trap after the city had capsized. Still, when the ducks got to Atlantis, one of the gags was that there were death traps did not work properly because they were upside down. Then, later in the episode, some of the characters escape a different death trap due to the “everything is actually upside down” plot point. This bothers me.

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While that was going on, Scrooge’s business rival Glomgold and some mercenaries he hired arrive at Atlantis as well. One of these mercenaries is Donald, who’s job interview obviously didn’t go the way he expected it to. Donald tries to stop the mercenaries from killing his family, but it turns out the mercenaries are not very good at their jobs. They get taken out by three kids and a half-conscious incompetent driver.

Ducktales 2017

Some other stuff happens, and the Ducks return home from their adventure. Scrooge gets a big jewel, Donald’s houseboat blows up, Mrs. Beakley tells Webby that it is okay to go outside, and Donald and the kids end up living at Scrooge’s place. Also, Dewey finds out that his mom actually exists.

Thoughts On DUCKTALES 2017

Nitpicks aside, based on the first episode I would recommend DUCKTALES 2017. What I saw was a well paced action-adventure-comedy show that genuinely managed to pull off having action, adventure, and comedy. I am sure there are people on the internet who probably despise it for one reason or another, but I am guessing the kids that are watching this show will not be bothered by that.

Ducktales 2017
Courtesy of 4chan’s Comics and Cartoons board

For the most part, the show consists of your usual kiddie adventure tropes: overly cutesy super talented kids, adults willing to put said kids in dangerous situations, villains just stupid enough to not be threatening, exotic locations, etc. However, though DUCKTALES 2017 sticks to what you would expect from a JONNY QUEST style adventure cartoon, the show tweaks these tropes just enough so that they do not feel like cliches:

Webby is a young girl who can beat up armed mercenaries in a fight. She can do this, ironically enough, because of her overly sheltered and rigid upbringing.

The triplets are ingenious troublemakers who can escape a locked room using nothing but a bag of marbles. They do not even take the marbles out of the bag; they just hit the doorknob with the bag until it breaks.

Glomgold is your typical self-centered evil businessman who’ll kill anyone to make a buck. He still has a faux-inspirational employee training video for the mercenaries he hired.

Granted, this style of humor has been done before in other comedy-action-adventure shows, so it is not like they are reinventing the wheel here. However, it does show that DUCKTALES 2017 knows the tropes it is using well enough to have fun with them. Which, in my opinion, is all you need for a good adventure series.

More Nitpicks About the Duck Cartoon

I honestly believe that DUCKTALES 2017 had a strong first episode. However, putting aside the right side up death trap in the upside down city, some things made me concerned.

Donald Duck Speaks In Tounges

In general, the voice acting was pretty good. I would rather listen to nasally voiced adults pretend to be annoying kids than actual annoying kids, so that worked out. Moreover, David Tennant certainly sounds like a cranky old Scottish man. Oddly enough, the voice actor that bothered me the most was the guy most qualified to be in a DUCKTALES cartoon.

Tony Anselmo has played Donald Duck for over thirty years, and he has definitely got the voice down. However, the thing is, for most of his existence, enunciation has not exactly been Donald’s strong suit.

READ: You know what else was at D23? The AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR trailer. Check out a description of it here!

I think anyone who’s seen a Donald Duck cartoon before knows that Donald’s voice is this quacking/English speech hybrid that often devolves into over-the-top angry gibberish. Moreover, while that still happens from time to time in DUCKTALES 2017, there are also moments in the show where Donald is a serious character who delivers serious plot exposition. All while still talking in that semi-indecipherable quacking voice.

Based off what happens in the episode, it seems like Donald is going to continue being a source of exposition, so, you know, add subtitles or something.

Cinematic Universes? In My Duck Cartoon?

Apparently, there were references to other popular Disney cartoons, like DARKWING DUCK, GOOF TROOP, and TALESPIN. St. Canard, Spoonerville, and Cape Suzette are the places where those shows respectively take place, and according to videos made by obsessive weirdoes, those names were mentioned in this episode.

Now, DARKWING DUCK’s inclusion makes sense. The show shares characters with DUCKTALES, and it was announced at D23 that Darkwing Duck the character is going to appear in DUCKTALES 2017.

That still doesn’t explain how TALESPIN and GOOF TROOP are supposed to fit in.

Ducktales 2017
These are not ducks.

TALESPIN is an alternate universe JUNGLE BOOK spin off that supposedly takes place in the mid to late 1930s. GOOF TROOP is about Goofy living in the suburbs. It is possible to tie these into the world of DUCKTALES, but I get the feeling that it might be a bit forced.

As I said earlier, DUCKTALES 2017 is pretty great so far. However, making it the jumping off point for an interconnected “cartoon universe” made up of reboots of other nostalgic properties puts me on edge. I feel like we have got enough of those these days, and a “Disney Afternoon” reboot universe sounds like the sort of thing that could weigh down an otherwise good show.

Ducktales 2017
OH GOD MAKE IT STOP

DUCKTALES will be returning to DISNEY XD on Sept. 23rd. So if you want to support the show, make sure to watch it then, instead of torrenting it online.

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One Comment

  1. kuriakoserenji

    September 8, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    How do you talk about cinematic universe and not bring up Darkwing Duck?

    Reply

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