The DuckTales opening episode had a lot to accomplish. It not only had to introduce eight main characters but set up an entire world. It’s not easy. Even with this being a double length premiere it’s taken other shows a whole season to really nail what it’s going to be about and who its characters are.
DuckTales is able to do this effortlessly and most importantly in a hilarious and engaging way. All of the characters are instantly likeable and are given new layers and dimensions that simply weren’t possible back in 1987 when the original series came out. The triplets all have distinct personalities and aren’t just carbon copies. Huey is by the book, Dewey rushes into danger, and Louie is a real wild card. Donald is more relatable than he’s ever been in any other Disney cartoon ever (especially more than Quack Pack, that’s for sure.) Scrooge is determined to prove he isn’t washed up. Mrs. Beakley doesn’t take any crap. Webby craves not just adventure but acceptance. Launchpad is super sweet and endearing even if he’s oblivious.
While everyone gets a time to shine in this premiere, three of the characters come out above the rest as ones to watch. Dewey marvelously gets a great arc throughout the episode that makes you wonder if he’ll end up being the leader of the team. He’s got more of a chip on his shoulder than the others and doesn’t put up with Scrooge trying to brush the boys off.
Launchpad is easily the funniest of all the characters. No matter how often he messes up or nearly gets everyone killed you just can’t help but love the guy. Beck Bennett’s delivery on Launchpad is pitch perfect and one of his recurring jokes in the first episode is one I hope comes back around.
Overall Webby is the real winner here. The moment she decides the triplets are her new best friends I was hooked. While she at first seems clingy and even a little creepy we soon learn Webby has a much softer side. She hasn’t been out of the house much and all she wants is to have an adventure.
If you want to get deep with it, you could almost read this as the writers commenting on the original Webby. She never got out as much as the other characters and was sort of kept in this tight cocoon of needing to keep the little girl safe. Well no more, because this Webby kicks butt and has such a big heart.
Special shout out to Kate Micucci for her performance, who sells Webby’s excitement, longing, and comedic moments with high levels of energy at all times. Micucci has always been an amazing actress but with Webby she’s able to take it the next level and show off a whole new range of talent.
The plot of the opener is solid, with the kids learning about Scrooge’s past and getting in on two solid adventures. There’s a lot hinted at for future episodes and we’re already starting to see hints of a story arc. There’s a big world out there and the opening episode gives us just enough to really want to go out there and see it. The way the series handles Donald Duck is especially intriguing.
Some well-placed references will delight longtime Disney and DuckTales fans but the series never feels bogged down by them. The new DuckTales is confident in its own story and barrels ahead without looking back. Put it in your life.
DuckTales will premiere in a one-hour television movie to be presented for 24 consecutive hours, Saturday, August 12 (beginning at midnight EDT/PDT), on Disney XD. The series will debut with two new episodes Saturday, September 23 (7:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., 10:30 p.m. EDT/PDT), coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the original Emmy Award-winning series.
Shamus Kelley is not a pony tale or cotton tale. Follow him on Twitter!
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