New Ducktales! Yay! (NB: Spoilers)   Leave a comment

So yeah, there is a new DuckTales. I was not planning to see it, because I never got into the old one, for reasons of personally and -very subjectively- finding it to be one of the weakest Duckburg universes. Keep in mind that as a Norwegian, I had regular access to not only Barks/Rosa, but also a lot of different European Donald comic artists with their own takes, so I was fairly “spoiled” on this account.

But this new DuckTales, is pretty much exactly what I wanted. Instead of just simply copying Barks’ plots like the old show often did, they now show how the Barks/Rosa universe is clearly a big inspiration, but still only that: An inspiration. And there are so many things to love about it. The spoilers are about to start (though they will be different types of spoilers than usual), so please, please, PLEASE check the two pilot episodes out on Youtube (Disney put them there themselves, so they should stay there forever) before coming back to my analysis.

You finished? OK, here we go:

So first of all, the inspiration. The pilot episode starts with a Scrooge that is trapped in running his world-wide businesses, and estranged to his family, while Donald is trying his best to raise his three nephews all on his own. And then they meet again, apparently for the first time in about ten years; because Donald made arrangements with Scrooge’s housekeeper to babysit his nephews (last minute arrangement). Though Donald appeared to have wanted to have this done without meeting Scrooge himself.

This opening immediately reminds me of chapter 12 of “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck”, but it’s just as obviously not just a copy of that story. For one thing, when Donald and Scrooge do (involuntarily) meet, it’s clear that they have a past. What is this past?

And in Scrooge’s dealings with the nephews, it’s clear that he’s not good at dealing with them either, partially because he’s not great with kids in general, and partially because he’s never met his grand-nephews before. Why has he not met them?

Already, in the few minutes Scrooge has been on screen, there has been more characterization of him than I found in all the episodes of the previous Duck Tales I was bored enough to watch way back then (this was before the internet, and my options were limited).

And then the nephews, who at this point thinks he’s a bit of a fraud and no fun at all, basically look through his “mysterious treasure chamber”. After dismissing old pictures of Scrooge and Donald having adventures as fake (this will be important, by the way), they then proceed to unleash evil powers by accident… And Scrooge comes to the rescue to show that he has -not- forgotten how to deal with such things.

Oh yeah, this show was created by people that knows their Scrooge history (especially the Barks/Rosa aspect of it; and considering Barks created Scrooge, it’s only proper). So anyway, Scrooge, the nephews and Webby…

…Oh sorry, I forgot Webby. The grand-daughter of Scrooge’s housekeeper. As a pure Duck Tale character, I never cared for her in the old show. This time, however, she’s definitely a more full-fledged character in herself, and will probably have an important role in future episodes.

And Huey, Dewey, and Louie has gotten something they’ve practically never gotten before, not even from Don Rosa: Different personalities. Not completely unique personalities, but different enough that later on, I’ll refer to them one by one instead of a group. It seems like such a small thing, but it’s actually really important. The trope of identical twins/triplings having identical personalities is, to be frank, pretty lazy; and there are lots of real-world twins who I can guarantee do hate it when people always give them the same presents and so on.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah, Scrooge, the nephews, and Webby (and also Launchpad, he’s a pilot) saves Scrooge’s money-bin from a gold-eating dragon, and Scrooge remembers two things: That getting rich through adventure is a hell of a lot more fun than doing it through endless meetings; and that having family can in fact be a good thing, even when they lead you into trouble every now and then.

In the Duckburg universe, “every now and then” is usually defined as “about every twenty minutes”.

Speaking of family, let’s now get back to Donald, who makes more of an appearance in the second episode. What I find noteworthy of him is how much he really cares for his nephews. In a fair few Duckburg universes, this care has been a downplayed aspect, but not so here. For one thing, he’s been raising his nephews all on his own for all these years, and trust me when I say that -that- will take some serious dedication to do. To attempt and succeed at doing this -without- swallowing his pride and going to Scrooge must have taken a lot out of him.

In fact, you can see that his constant struggles just to keep them afloat (literally, as they live on a boat) means that he thinks more of his nephews than he does of himself. And his nephews does not have too much confidence in him either, though at least they are really supportive of him. This is a Donald characterization that you mostly only see from the good writers. This show has good writers.

But anyway, Donald will gladly share pictures of his nephews with people he’s hardly ever met, showing his dedication to raising his nephews, as well as how they are not living a wealthy life at all. For one thing, the closest they’ve been to Grand Canyon was at a display at the supermarket. It’s heartbreaking, it really is.

And one of the pictures is extra important, as it shows Dewey’s first steps. Not only is this a total “D’aaaawwwwww!” moment, it also shows a weakness (albeit an understandable and forgivable one): Donald is in fact over-protective of his nephews. In that picture, Dewey is taking his first step… wearing protective padding, on a mattress, surrounded by pillows. He shall clearly not be in any danger ever.

This is important because just a few minutes after that photo, we see Dewey being careless in a sunken temple. He is careless because he has been protected so much in his life, so he does not understand what real danger is. He just walks right into it, because whenever he’s been even remotely close to danger, Donald has been there to save him.

And as he recklessly sets of death traps, Donald once again saves him (without his knowledge). Good old Donald! He might have been over-protective, but he will not hesitate for a second to put Dewey’s life before his own (it was not a risk-free thing for him to save Dewey). Not. One. Second.

And eventually as the episode finishes, we return to the “mysterious treasure chamber” in Scrooge’s mansion… which by the way turned out to be a garage. And there Dewey looks again at one at the pictures of Donald and Scrooge’s adventures, this time knowing it’s not fake at all. Straightening up a corner of the canvas, he then finds out that there was one other person in it: His mother!

This. Is. Big.

This. Is. Huge.

Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s mother Della* has appeared, to my knowledge, pretty much exactly -once-; in chapter 11 of Don Rosa’s “The Life and time of Scrooge McDuck”; and even then, only as a child, and only in a few panels, and with no spoken lines. She’s -that- little known.

And while there is obviously the big question of where she is now, at the same time it partially answers so very much. The details are still unknown, but here are the things we now already know a lot more about:

We now have a good idea why Donald and Scrooge were -not- happy to see each other for the first time in ten years.

We now have a good idea  why Scrooge claimed that family was only trouble, and had estranged himself from them.

We now have a good idea why both Scrooge and Donald, in their own ways, had stopped adventuring.

And we now have a -very- good idea why Donald is caring so much for his nephews, -and- why he is so overprotective of them.

And I’m sure that in the future, we’ll also learn more about Webby… And maybe one day meet Della!

And this is why I already like the new DuckTales so much. The characters are well-defined, and the show has already revealed a lot of motivation for why the characters act like they do. Motivations that make sense.

And you may have realized that I mostly skipped the adventure part of the plots, because to me, they are not in themselves the most important part of this show. The adventures are there as catalysts to watch the characters develop both individually, and in their relationships to each other.

Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that the jokes are good, the animation top-class (well, duh, it’s Disney), and the voice acting top notch. Hey, they managed the feat of keeping Donald’s voice properly Donald while at the same time making him easier to understand!

*I don’t know for sure if Della will be her name here, but she does look quite a lot like Della does in the Don Rosa family tree (which was based on a non-published family tree Barks created for his own use), which a lot of Duckburg fans consider to be the most official one. So for now, I think Della will be her name here too.

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Posted 16/08/2017 by Emperor Norton II in Entertainment

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