Sunday, March 15, 2015

Heading Back To Duckburg...

New episodes of Ducktales will premiere on DisneyXD in 2017...and that's all we know, but it's enough. Lots of people, myself included, LOVE THAT SHOW. Without using a calculator, I would say the show will have had a 27-year "hiatus" before the series returns to television...on expanded cable. The only other show that's had this kind of belated renewal was The Jetsons, which had 51 new episodes premiere in 1985 - almost 25 years since the original series debuted in 1962 and abruptly ended in 1963 after just 24 (!) episodes. And 2017 will mark the 30th Anniversary of Ducktales' debut.

The press release announcing the return suggested that Donald Duck might be joining the cast of characters in a regular supprting role; fans of the series are aware that he was only a recurring character in the first two seasons, appearing in a handful of memorable episodes. If he DOES return as a regular, then we might see more episodes inspired by the Carl Barks comic books that inspired the series, plus we'll see some more byplay between Scrooge, Donald & Launchpad McQuack, who is also coming back. I'm also curious about whether the production team behind the new series will incorporate other elements from the Disney Comics Universe, whether they be design elements  (Donald's black shirt, which is my shorthand indicator that we're watching Carl Bark's Donald, who is a more interesting incarnation of the duck than in the old Disney cartoons), storylines (Don Rosa & William Van Horn's duck-tales), or characters  (Brigitta MacBridge, Rumpus McFowl, Fethry Duck), or whole status quos ( Donald's Paperinik incarnation, aka, Duck Avenger or P.K., which is a whole phenomenon in Europe and South American Disney Comics, and has occasionally seen print in the United States - I'll know for sure if I can spot Ducklair Tower incorporated in the new designs for the city of Duckburg). There is some debate across the web about what the new episodes will look like, since most revivals of older cartoons tend to adopt new influences in animation and design - the only exception being Family Guy, which it's creator, Seth MacFarlane, sought to have the series return be seemless, as if there had been no "break" between the 3rd and 4th seasons.

Also notably absent in the list of characters returning to the series are late-series additions Fenton Crackshell/Gizmoduck and Bubba Duck...I suppose with Donald back, you don't really need Fenton or Gizmoduck - especially if they adapt Donald's superhero incarnation...and Bubba didn't have much to do after his initial introduction, so I wouldn't be surprised if they were recurring guest-stars instead. Speaking of guest-stars, what about Darkwing Duck? Do I need to explain why? What about Darkwing Duck?

I'm not sure what the new series will look like, but if Disney is looking for new hands, I wouldn't mind seeing Dave Alvarez contribute - he's been trying his hand at sketching Disney characters and posting the effort on his Facebook page after becoming better known for his work drawing the Looney Tunes gang, and I am impressed with the results, particularly the gag with Donald's shirt and the brawl in Scrooge's money bin. I also recommend James Silvani - his work on the Darkwing Duck comics has been stellar, plus his Facebook page has a phenomenal gallery of sketches.

I'm also curious if Disney will promote the series with a new freemium game. I wasn't impressed with Scrooge's Loot, but I liked briefly having an app icon with Scrooge's face on my mobile phone. I would prefer a city-building game similar to Simpsons Tapped Out, which would have the player build their own version of Duckburg using familiar buildings and characters.

2017 seems too far away to me...maybe in the interim, Disney will finally release the remaining episodes of the series on DVD? At least the comic books are coming back...and viral marketing campaigns - I saw an episode of "Fresh Off The Boat" that featured a brief clip of Scrooge swimming in his money bin, most likely culled from the Ducktales title sequence, just one week after the big announcement was made. My response? "More viral marketing promoting my favorite childhood TV cartoon, please." :)