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DuckTales

Entry updated 31 March 2021. Tagged: TV.

US animated tv series (2017-2021). Disney Television Animation. Developed by Francisco Angones and Matt Youngberg. Executive Producer: Matt Youngberg. Writers include Francisco Angones, Madison Bateman, Colleen Evanson, Christian Magalhaes, Robert Snow and Matt Youngberg. Directors include John Aoshima, Matthew Humphreys, Tanner Johnson, Dana Terrace and Jason Zurek. Voice cast includes Tony Anselmo, Paget Brewster, Kimiko Glenn, Marc Evan Jackson, Kate Micucci, Bobby Moynihan, Toks Olagundoye, Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz, Catherine Tate and David Tennant. 69 usually 22-minute episodes, plus 39 shorts. Colour.

This is a reboot of the Disney animation series of the same name, created by Jymn Magon, which ran for 100 episodes 1987-1990, with the additional spinoff DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990).

Setting up the series, the first episode has Donald Duck (Anselmo) leaving his three grandsons – Huey (Pudi), Dewey (Schwartz) and Louie (Moynihan) – in the care of his uncle Scrooge McDuck (ex-Doctor Who Tennant) whilst he attends a job interview; he does so reluctantly, as he and his uncle have not spoken for ten years. Whilst exploring Scrooge McDuck's mansion Huey, Dewey and Louie meet and befriend Webby (Micucci), the granddaughter of the mansion's maid, Mrs. Beakley (Olagundoye), whose skill set exceeds that usually required for such a post. Scrooge McDuck, whose life has drifted into an insular tedium, is revitalized by his nephews and Webby into returning to his former life of adventure.

The original series was much loved, but there were weaknesses addressed by the reboot: for example, Huey, Dewey and Louie now have distinct personalities (previously their main distinguishing feature had been the colour of their clothing), while Webby – apart from being promoted to the front bench – has changed from being a wet blanket into a socially insecure autodidact with a reckless adventurous streak. When being held over a pit of stakes: "I never thought I'd die in a pit of stakes ... I mean: I always hoped."

The adventures cover both fantasy and science fiction tropes, the latter including Aliens, Atlantis, Invasion, Lost Races, Robots, Spaceships, Supernatural Creatures, Underground adventure, being shipwrecked on the Moon and various Inventions (many of which are inclined to turn evil). There are references to non-Disney animation history, particularly Anime such as Astro Boy and Sailor Moon. A mixture of standalone tales and stories that further the series' overarching plots, the first two seasons focus on Webby's new pal Lena (Glenn) breaking the influence of her evil aunt Magica (ex-Doctor Who companion Tate) and the question of what happened to the triplets' absent mother, Della (Brewster), who rejoins her family midway through the second season. The third season centres on the machinations of F.O.W.L., whose leader, Bradford Buzzard (Jackson), is also chairman of Scrooge's Board of Directors: he resents the financial instability which Scrooge's adventures cause and so seeks not to kill him, but to blackmail him into passivity. The show began with Scrooge isolated from his relatives; it ends with him part of an expanded family, which embraces many non-relatives.

Though children were clearly the show's target audience, there was much to enjoy for older viewers: the Humour was strong and the animation and voice cast impressive. The main cast expanded during the show's run, adding many new members, the strongest being the female additions. The standout character was Webby, continuing Disney's recent run of creating lively girl characters (such as Mabel Pines in Gravity Falls and Star Butterfly of Star vs the Forces of Evil); but also pleasing was the increased presence of Donald Duck, who was underused in the original series. Referencing not only the 1987 series and the influential Comics by Carl Barks [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], but also the Videogames, the rebooted DuckTales proved to be one of the most entertaining children's comedy shows of its era. [SP]

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