It's just as impossible to not love Scrooge McDuck and his adventure-seeking nephews in 2017 as it was when DuckTales premiered nearly 30 years ago. Whether fans of the original or not, young or old, audiences will likely find joy in watching the new DuckTales series, which nods to the source material while adding modern spins of its own. "If you’re a kid or an adult, you can watch it and smile," Ben Schwartz, who plays Dewey Duck, enthusiastically tells me at the D23 Expo.
The upcoming reboot, premiering with a one-hour TV movie August 12 followed by a series debut September 23 on Disney XD, is one audiences should be counting down to — and the cast knows why.
With a September premiere honoring the original series' 30th anniversary, the show will continue to deliver the characters fans know and love. The wealth-hungry Scrooge McDuck (David Tennant) reluctantly watches his nephews Huey (Danny Pudi), Louie (Bobby Moynihan), and Dewey (Schwartz), and their sidekick Webby (Kate Micucci) as they take on adventures that unfold from discovering their family's past in the McDuck Manor. Along for the great adventures and laughs is fan-favorite Launchpad McQuack (Beck Bennet), Scrooge's big-hearted chauffeur and Mrs. Betina Beakley (Toks Olagundoye), Scrooge’s no-BS housekeeper.
While the show holds onto many nostalgic aspects of the original, from comedy to animation, it also takes liberties in lifting more from the original pages and comics.
For instance, Schwartz explains that the three nephews have much more distinct, detailed personalities in the new show, versus primarily showcasing Huey as the leader in the original. "Huey’s always trying to learn, Dewey is looking for adventure always, Louie’s laid-back, relaxed, and wants to chill," the actor says. Additional tweaks to DuckTales include Scrooge's softer side and Donald Duck's (Tony Anselmo) deep-rooted issues with his dad.
And in the new series, Webby isn't just "the girl" — she's an official part of the crew. "Webby is a lot more part of the guys. She’s one of the guys… going on these crazy adventures with them and often times coming up with schemes," Micucci explains of her character. "I think fans are going to flip out. That’s all I’m saying."
Schwartz also says that adults will still feel like kids while watching, but there may be more elements they can appreciate. "They kind of take a lot of influences from the comic books as well," he explains. "It’s adventure-y, it has aspects of drama, storylines that go through the whole thing and the comedic jokes are really funny. There are things that you can track throughout, which I love, and it keeps you going." So whether committing to the full season or sitting down for an episode, the reward and fun will be granted regardless. Adults may even be pleasantly surprised by its parallels to modern shows.
Schwartz compares the series to Friends, saying, "That group playing off of each other, best friends, I love the idea of us playing with that." Like Friends, fans can now pick the character they're most like. "I’d be Dewey, ‘cause I’m just a big dummy," he says. His co-star Micucci makes an Indiana Jones comparison while Bennett draws similarities between the series and family-shenanigan shows like Arrested Development and Family Ties.
Regardless of DuckTale's evolution, key elements of the beloved original are still there. First, there's the unique aesthetic, which luckily hasn't been too modernized. "It’s awesome looking. Like The Disney Afternoon stuff," Schwartz says. Micucci explains why there's something about the old-school look that's so special. "It just has this quality that’s reminiscent of what people already love," she says. "We’ve become desensitized with computers — when things were hand-drawn, there was something we connect to."
And of course, themes of family run strong as these characters love each other no matter what their adventures entail. "You’ll see what you liked about it, and the comedy, the adventure of it, all those themes," he said. "I think fans will be psyched." Now that's the way to do a reboot, and DuckTales is sure to be the perfect escapism for any kid at heart.