Disney's DuckTales, ran from 1987 to 1990 for one hundred episodes and became not only the House of Mouse's first cartoon series produced for syndication, but also one of its most popular.
DuckTales followed the exploits of quadzillionaire businessman Scrooge McDuck and his great nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie who with Webbigale Vanderquack found themselves in exotic Indiana Jones style adventures that included trips on sea, on land, around the world, in outer space and occasionally through time.
This charming and genuinely enjoyable cartoon series was based on a popular comic strip by Carl Barks and unusually for a 'movie' adaptation, included many of Bark's characters and plots. Of the regular cast of characters there was absent-minded inventor Gyro Gearloose, accident prone pilot Launchpad McQuack, Scrooge's butler Duckworth, his loyal housekeeper Mrs Beakley and last but not least Fenton Crackshell, who in times of trouble utters the words "Blatherin' Blatherskite!" and became super hero Gizmo Duck. Regular villains included Magica De Spell, Flintheart Glomgold and the Beagle Boys - check out the boys' prison numbers.
Apart from excellent animation and imaginative plots, DuckTales the TV series boasted an extremely catchy theme tune composed by Mark Mueller and sung by Jeff Pescetto. The memorable orchestral score for the TV series was composed by Star Trek supremo Ron Jones. Alas Jones' score is not available officially though a short suite of cues has surfaced on the web. A feature film called DuckTales Treasure of the Lost Lamp followed in 1990 scored by David Newman. Good though Newman's score may be, it sticks to a rather predictable "John Williams in action adventure mode" mixed with Carl Stalling's Looney Tunes sound. Jones on the other hand mixes his musical styles utilising strings, keyboards and guitars as necessary. Of course his cues were re-used for many different scenarios throughout the series and had to be flexible. It does however display a definite deftness of touch that when heard after all these years still sounds fresh.
I got into DuckTales while my daughter was growing up and like a dutiful dad I sat and watched it with her and very soon became hooked. Like The Simpsons you had a regular cast of characters with their own back stories. The plots were well written with some clever and knowing touches. With so many less sophisticated cartoons dominating the airwaves and the digital domain, DuckTales seems from a time gone by. Now that Disney has begun releasing the series on DVD, there is an opportunity to enjoy them again. If you grew up in the 80's, have a party and watch DuckTales all night with your pals. If you haven't got kids, borrow one and use that as excuse to watch the series.