Even before Vuk and I brought our little Squishface into the world, we enjoyed the occasional cartoon. But now that we have a two-year-old, TV shows aimed at kids have taken up a large swathe of our viewing time. Most of what we watch with our toddler is along the lines of Blippi or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse–the sort of drivel that has parents yelling at their television screens in frustration to our toddler’s chagrin.
But every once in a while, a show will come along that we’ll enjoy just as much as (or more than) our 2-year-old. Disney’s DuckTales revival is one such show. And while it helps that this show is aimed more at older kids than at toddlers, Disney has done so many things right with this television show that I would urge you to watch it even if you have no kids in your life at all.
Telling the Triplets Apart (and Other Key Characters)
Let’s get real for a minute: Huey, Dewey, and Lewey have always been used as a set in Disney shows and movies. They had different colored t-shirts, but their personalities were so matchy-matchy that they may as well have been one character, not three.
With DuckTales 2017, this is no longer the case. Disney has infused each boy with such a unique personality that you can’t help but learn to tell them apart. Not only do they have personalities, but they also participate in different story arcs. One episode may focus exclusively on one of Lewey’s get-rich-quick schemes, while another episode hones in on an adventure Dewey is taking with Webby. The triplets are no longer treated as a single unit, but have finally been given permission to individualize, and it is amazing.
But they’re not the only characters to shine in the new DuckTales series. In fact, just about every character, from the main characters to the recurring antagonists, has a personality that feels more real than you may expect from your traditional cartoon.
More Than a Monster a Day: the Plot
Too often, cartoons lean into the monster-a-day format, with no overarching plot holding things together. That works for some cartoons–Phineas and Ferb leans heavily into its formulaic episodes, and marketers love being able to offer disjointed 5-episode DVDs so they can charge parents out the nose to entertain their kids–but some cartoons go above and beyond, creating comprehensive stories that actually track from one episode to the next.
DuckTales is of the second variety. While most episodes can stand on their own, they definitely lead one after the other.
Every once in a while, the pacing gets a little weird. They’ll introduce a major, catastrophic event, and then there will be a few filler episodes before they get back around to resolving that event. But for the most part, the DuckTales plot holds the show together without being so robust that it confuses its younger audience members.
Adults Will Enjoy…
If you grew up watching original Disney-channel cartoons, you’ll love all the call-backs in the new DuckTales. From Darkwing Duck to the Care Bears, DuckTales 2017 has made everything you loved about 90s Disney channel canon. Heck, they even sing the Power Line song from A Goofy Movie.
Between that, the solid characters and plots, and the occasional laugh-out-loud jokes, there’s plenty for adults to enjoy about this show.
Though I AM still waiting for Gargoyles to make an appearance.
Kids Will Enjoy…
Our toddler’s favorite part of this show is the theme song–which is great, since they’re using an elongated version of the original DuckTales theme song.
After the theme song, her favorite parts include the moments of slapstick humor, the adventures, and any time Donald Duck goes off on a rant.
As I’ve already said, we let our 2-year-old watch this show. But since your mileage may vary, here’s what you need to know when deciding if DuckTales 2017 is something you want your kids to watch:
- Not Directly Educational: Though there are occasional life-lessons included in the show, the characters aren’t directly trying to teach your kids their colors or numbers, and they’re not smacking you over the head with the morale of the episode, either.
- Cartoon Violence: In this adventure show, you’ll see lasers zap, punches thrown, and the occasional Donald Duck rage rampage. There’s no blood or death (unless you count disintegrating clones), but if you don’t like your kids to see any violence at all, this maybe isn’t the right show for your family.
- Strong Family Relationships: One of the things I tend to hate about TV shows is the way they make families seem continually contentious. Siblings fight, teenagers roll their eyes at their parents, parents complain about their kids… I haven’t noticed that concern at all with DuckTales. There are occasional disputes in the family, but it’s clear that, on the whole, they love each other, care about each other, and respect one another. I also love that their family isn’t exactly traditional, and they make a point of including family members who aren’t blood related in their family.
Other than a few pacing issues, the new DuckTales is a nearly-perfect cartoon show. It’s one of the rare instances where the reboot actually surpasses the original, and Vuk and I have been thoroughly enjoying the ride.
I give this show a heartfelt 8.5/10 as I try to convince my toddler to let me sing along with the theme song.