After the delightful “DuckTales” movie pressed reset on the adventures of the familiar feathered characters from the ‘90s, the actual series debuts in earnest on Saturday morning with a pair of episodes that give a little more time to the supporting characters. Only the first was given to critics for review, and although “Daytrip of Doom!” is a little bit more domestic and mundane in scope — a trip to Atlantis every week would be a bit much — the spirit of adventure is still strongly present and intact.
The series premiere spotlights a trio of strong female characters: Webby Vanderquack (Kate Micucci), Mrs. Beakley (Toks Olagundoye), and Ma Beagle (guest star Margo Martindale). Even though the episode runs a mere 22 minutes, it manages to actually reveal surprising depths to each character.
In particular, Webby in the original series was timid, which made her alternately annoying and boring. Here, she displays a range of traits that might result from being raised alone in a giant mansion. The scope of her imagination is wide, varied, and fierce, but her experience in the real world with real friends is limited. During an outing with her newest friends Huey, Dewey, and Louie (Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz, and Bobby Moynihan), she reveals how much more comfortable she is wielding a grappling hook than ordering at a fast food joint. Micucci’s experience with voice work is apparent here; Webby has never sounded sassier and more full of fire, yet she’s still properly youthful and unsure.
Her grandmother Mrs. Beakley – performed with powerful elegance by Olagundoye – gets a similar update. The nanny/housekeeper was previously the maternal presence and displayed a gentle, nurturing side. The all-new “DuckTales” reveals an incredibly capable side to her that hints how she might not have just been a domestic servant all her life. Let’s just say that Webby has learned some pretty important skills from her.
The premiere also is the first glimpse we have of the new Beagle Boys, the family of dogs who are some of Scrooge’s main antagonists in the series. While it’s bittersweet that the legendary June Foray, the original voice of the ringleader Ma Beagle, passed recently, at least casting for the new generation Ma lives up to that high standard. While her time in the episode is brief, Margo Martindale still is able to shine as the intelligent, ambitious, and calculating canine matriarch.
The new generation of kids who will be introduced to Duckburg through this series may not have the history to appreciate the way these characters have become far more vibrant and relevant, but that isn’t necessary. “DuckTales” is brisk and playful romp from start to finish with plenty of cheeky details. One particular highlight is “Uke or Puke,” an Asian music video game featured that we hope will pop up again. The second episode on Saturday, “The Great Dime Chase,” also promises entertaining action while giving the spotlight to Louie and guest star Jim Rash as mad inventor Gyro Gearloose.
The rebooted “DuckTales” premieres with two back-to-back episodes on Saturday at 7 a.m. ET on Disney XD. The movie that acts as a prelude to the series can be watched below: