What in the world is going on?
All of a sudden, we are being deluged with reboot after reboot of the classic shows we all grew up with! What basically started with Hasbro launching Transformers Prime and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has spread like an epidemic!
Now, there could be a number of reasons for this, and I may very well discuss them at a later date, but let’s focus on the big one that was announced in the past few days.
That would be Disney’s announcement that a new DuckTales series is in development for release in 2017 on the Disney XD channel. Yes, the series described by at least one blogger as the most influential animated series in TV history is getting remade.
Or is it? Is this a complete reboot or a continuation of the previous series in some way? The details that have been released so far can be contradictory, as is usually the case with what’s released online.
But there are definitely questions as to how well this series will turn out. Will it be as a hit as MLP:FIM or TMNT, or will it bomb worse than Seth Macfarlane’s attempt to revive the Flintstones? Given how well the original, which pretty much started the Disney Afternoon, is remembered, this would definitely be a tough act to follow.
But there is a way I think the new series can actually be a success for newer viewers: If they went the route of the Ninja Turtles and, instead of making the new series exactly like the old one, made it closer to the comics it was based on.
For those not aware, the original DuckTales was a very loose adaptation of the stories told in the Scrooge McDuck and Donald Duck comic books that were created by Carl Barks and, later, Don Rosa. There definitely were differences, like removing Donald as a main character, the introduction of Launchpad McQuack and giving names to all of the Beagle Boys. So, in a way, DuckTales was to the Disney comics what the Fred Wolf Ninja Turtles series was to Eastman and Laird’s original comics. (Amazingly, Fred Wolf was the supervising producer on DuckTales before forming his own studio that produced that first Ninja Turtles series.)
It worked at the time, and we all still love the show to this day. But would it work today? To assume that may be like saying the original He-Man would work today, and that’s probably not the case. The failure of the DuckTales DVD collections to sell en masse may be proof of this. When each DVD volume can sell at Target for $9.99, there probably isn’t as much demand as we hoped there would be.
That was given further proof when the Mouse-Eared regime’s attempt to re-enter the comics market was a bust. When Disney started re-publishing their comic titles a few years ago through Boom Comics, the Uncle Scrooge title followed the same themes of the previous books. Likely due to low sales, those issues started including more story elements from DuckTales after about eight issues. Things still didn’t sell as well as Disney hoped, and this eventually resulted in the book being replaced with a full-on DuckTales book series, which itself lasted only six issues before Disney and Boom pulled the plug on all the Disney comic titles.
A new TV series that is more faithful to the comics might be just what is needed to revive interest in Disney’s classic characters and their old titles in general. It could spark interest in hunting down Barks and Rosa’s old books as well as finally getting Disney the publicity it needs to re-release those comic titles to better success this time. And it would allow this new series to have its own identity while allowing the original to keep its spot in Disney and television history.
But make sure the new series still has a theme song that will also get stuck in the viewers’ heads FOREVER. Because today’s viewers should have to suffer that like we did.