This week, Disney announced its plans to reboot DuckTales in 2017 on Disney XD, and the internet rejoiced. But Disney isn’t just capitalizing on the fact that nostalgia always sells, or apologizing for its latest theme park ticket hike by inviting priced-out families on a trip to Duckburg. It’s entering the arms race for kids content, and it has a lot of catching up to do.
That’s because Netflix has turned into something of a 1980s and ’90s cartoon reboot factory of late, part of their strategy to load up on ad-free “kidvids” that appeal equally to kids and their subscription-paying parents. The company already partners with PBS, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, Mattel, Hasbro, Lego, Scholastic, Walt Disney Company, and Dreamworks, including deals for original content.
Check out this stacked lineup of updated classics the streaming network will begin rolling out in the next two years. It’s almost as if Netflix wants to arm you with visual evidence to show your kids how much better it was in the old days — until the sheen of nostalgia fades, your kid slinks off to play in another room, and you’re just a grown man watching cartoons alone.
Original Run: 1983-1986 (2 seasons, 86 episodes)
Returns: March 27 (26 episodes)
This reboot hopes a bumbling detective made of high-tech gizmos will resonate with a generation of kids who want to be their iPad when they grow up. CGI Gadget seems unlikely to live up to the hand-drawn, Don Adams-voiced original, but really all he has to do is be better than Matthew Broderick.
Original Run: 1981-1992 (10 seasons, 161 episodes)
Returns: 2016 (26 episodes)
The relatively unknown (Stateside, anyway) British actor Alexander Armstrong will voice the star of this spy genre spoof that was once a staple on Nickelodeon. He’s following in the footsteps of David Jason, who was knighted in 2005 for contributing generation-defining characters to to British TV. So, yeah … no pressure there.
The Magic School Bus
Original Run: 1994-1997 (4 seasons, 52 episodes)
Returns: 2016 (26 episodes)
The Magic School Bus 360° will feature a CGI Miss Frizzle, robots and an enhanced bus. Of course, if you want to relive the original magical field trips, you don’t have to wait until 2016. The Magic School Bus is currently Netflix’s most popular educational show, teaching kids vital lessons about science and the fact that cartoons used to be drawn on paper.
Original Run: 1985-1998 (4 seasons, 60 episodes)
Returns: Early 2016
Why stop at bears when you can have an elephant, racoon, lion and whatever other species you can slap a belly badge onto? Care Bears And Cousins will feature all of the above, but no word yet on whether or not they can convince Mel Gibson to voice Brave Heart.
Original Run: Pee-wee’s Playhouse, 1986-1990 (5 seasons, 46 episodes)
Returns: Unknown, but production begins next month.
While the original show will not be coming back, you can still thank Netflix — and Judd Apatow — for rebooting the character with Pee-wee’s Big Holiday. The feature will be the third in the Pee-Wee franchise (the first since 1988’s Big Top Pee-wee) and is billed as “an epic story of friendship and destiny.” Presumably, Seth Rogen will cameo in an attempt to get Pee-wee mekka lekka high.
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