Latest posts by Blake Lynch (see all)
- DuckTales: A Look Back at ‘Bermuda Triangle Tangle’ Through ‘Duck to the Future’ - 5th August 2017
- DuckTales: A Look Back at Much Ado About Scrooge - 17th June 2017
- DuckTales: A Look Back at Jungle Duck - 10th June 2017
Dear Faithful DuckTales Recap Reader,
It’s been a very eventful summer. I’ve written many words, but unfortunately not enough words reviewing DuckTales. Going forward in these reviews, there will be some changes, including the following:
- This article will be a little bit longer than the earlier pieces because several reviews will be included so that we can more quickly progress through the DuckTales
- I have several sources of non-TV media about DuckTales that I’d like to review including sticker books, video games, the Lost Lamp movie, and comic books. This is because I’d like to discuss as much work as possible prior to the launch of the Netflix series.
- There will be scores out of 5 stars assigned to all DuckTales pieces going forward, based so that we can have a better idea of how to compare things in terms of quality.
- I invite you, dear reader, to participate in this series. If you have questions, points, or any issues about the DuckTales universe, I invite you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
With these notes stated, let’s go forward in reviewing the next several episodes in DuckTales.
BERMUDA TRIANGLE TANGLE
There was a period in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s when a lot of shows used the Bermuda Triangle as a plot device. Scrooge (along with Hewey, Louie, and Dewey) head into the Bermuda Triangle. This is the first of many episodes where DuckTales bases its central plot device on legendary action pieces.
Eventually the ship proceeds far enough into the Bermuda triangle that it doesn’t disappear, but instead ends up in a graveyard of ships covered with seaweed.
This seaweed universe is not what I expected after someone traveled in the Bermuda Triangle. There is a group in the area that lives under the control of Captain Bounty (a toilet paper reference?) who collects water and makes food out of seaweed. Everybody needs to have their own goals in life. These denizens of the Bermuda Triangle are constantly bombarded by a seaweed monster, who can only be soothed by music played by Captain Bounty.
In an effort to not preserve the delicate life in this environment, Scrooge frees the ships from the seaweed, which results in a battle occurring with the monster. The episode concludes with Captain Bounty deciding that he and the monsters will go back to the life they knew rather than try to exist in something else.
While I’m glad that this episode wasn’t a weird descendant of famous literature, this is still a really strange episode because it tries to depict the Bermuda Triangle as something that I’m pretty sure we can all agree the Bermuda Triangle is not.
THE STATUS SEEKER
I’ve said it before in these columns, but there are times where Scrooge approaches an exact cartoon duck replica of Donald Trump. I’d argue that this story line shows Scrooge at his most Trump-like.
The main thrust of the storyline is that Scrooge stops doing poor people things because he wants to attract wealthy clients. Scrooge also announces plans to become president of Duckberg, which I thought was a city and not a country. Actually, I’m not sure what Duckberg is in terms of size.
The Beagle Boys in this episode act as the bad guys. The thing about the Beagle Boys that always bothered me is that it’s often nearly impossible to tell that the Beagle Boys are actually beagles. I’m a Beagle owner and I can safely say these guys look like pigs.
The main action piece in this episode takes place in a submarine, which Scrooge and Launchpad take to get to a private island where a rare mask is held. This sequence felt repetitive because we’re returning to episodes inspired by Hunt for Red October, which we’ve already done once this season. It’s also a bit lazy to animate in the ocean the way it’s done in the show. There’s nothing remarkably interesting about the water and it’s a lot easier to just show a ton of blue than having the characters fly over a landscape.
Scrooge ends up concluding his interaction with the villagers in a deal that I’m pretty sure Donald Trump once did. Scrooge gives food to the natives who are in possession of the mask in exchange for the object. Huey, Louie and Dewey end up tracking Scrooge to save him from the Beagle Boys.
The episode ends on a note that’s becoming customary for DuckTales, but one which is not unique to the show. In a twist that the real Trump will never perform, Scrooge gives up his mask to play in the mud. After having thought back about this article, it’s a very tired episode of DuckTales. No new characters. No exciting set pieces. It all reeks of that before here and done that vibe. That said, it’s a very well constructed episode and the DuckTales story formula is really getting nailed down but I found little fun or excitement in this show so I rank it pretty low in comparison to some of the other episodes.
SWEET DUCK OF YOUTH
This episode begins with Scrooge and Launchpad entering the mansion, which has its lights shut off. While this is often a party trick in many shows, this structure is still a bit unique because it’s a cartoon show. It turns out that it’s Scrooge’s birthday and his family is holding a surprise party.
The quest in this episode revolves around traveling to the foundation of youth. One of the things that slightly bothers me about DuckTales when it references real life things is that the show then pretends to create fake backgrounds around the items. This is in stark contrast to stories like Indiana Jones (which I’m sure was at least an inspiration for people who worked on this show) where at least some of the actual history is provided for the viewer. This would’ve been an excellent way to teach kids (adult too!) about history.
Launchpad crashes the plane in quicksand and Scrooge soon gets lost from the group. The group fears the very worst for Scrooge because he is lost alone in a sandstorm. In the middle of the sandstorm, Scrooge comes face to face with a Conquistador. The Conquistador character is a vague sketch of a character.
As is common with the end of the second act in DuckTales, Huey, Louie, and Dewey come to save the day. The three pretend to be a ghost to scare people away. Scrooge teams up with another character of the week and the two ultimately find the fountain of youth, which means that Scrooge’s friend now must grow old again.
The biggest misstep in this episode is that Scrooge concludes by saying “you’re only as old as you feel.” This type of Full House lesson of the week feels out of place. Little kids were not watching this show for life lessons. For that matter, it’s also a very odd lesson to teach a bunch of 1st graders.
There are some mistakes in this episode, but it’s creative and I like the idea of Scrooge finding the fountain of youth. I would’ve rated this episode much higher if the characters had discussed the actual fountain of youth backstory.
MAGICA’S SHADOW WARS
Magica De Spell is the bad guy (er, lady) in this episode. She’s the only villain from the show besides the Beagle Boys that I remember as a kid. I’ve always wondered if Elvira was in any way inspired by Magica De Spell. Magica lives in a really foreboding castle, which I’m assuming is not located in Duckberg. (For the record, I wish there had been better DuckTales toys than what we got in the form of small, immovable figurines. Magica De Spell’s castle would have made an amazing playset.)
The “Shadow Wars” in question involve Magica’s attempt to break into Scrooge’s place and steal his lucky dime. Only Magica uses her titular shadow to break in and steal Scrooge’s lucky token. Magica’s shadow, however, soon becomes sentient and wants to be released from Magica’s body. This is basically Disney’s Peter Pan. In what isn’t really a “war,” Scrooge proceeds to catch Magica’s shadow in a stadium.
Yet again, Huey, Louie and Dewey swoop in when all looks lost to save the day. In this case, the boys shed light on Magica she runs away because she is scared of a shadow. The shadow is never reattached to Magica so I suppose if you’d like to view it as such this could be referred to as the episode in which Huey, Louie and Dewey unlock a demon.
This was a good episode. There’s humor, a weird plot, and some unique action scenes. The problem, however, is both that these shadow things are a little hokey and I’m not sure how closely this kind of tale fits
LAUNCHPAD’S FIRST CRASH
Launchpad is a character who makes little sense. He’s an inept pilot who consistently flies around the richest Duck in Duckberg. So, it’s weird that out of all the DuckTales characters, Launchpad is focused on more than any other character. I think this is mostly because Launchpad is the most famous DuckTales character besides Uncle Scrooge.
The event that begins this episode is Launchpad’s 100th crash. 100 crashes! While I do not expect everything to be perfectly logical in a cartoon, Launchpad’s rashes are particularly confusing. Why do characters worry about being killed in this cartoon and navigating dangerous circumstances if Launchpad can crash in an airplane 100 times and live? This crash causes Launchpad and Scrooge to flash back to their first meeting.
Launchpad’s first crash results in Scrooge and Launchpad landing on an island that is surrounded by beautiful female warriors. These ladies remind a bit of the islanders at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The two end up arriving at a City of Diamonds, which is another well-known legend. Like almost every other episode of DuckTales, Scrooge acquires a great fortune and then loses it. It’s getting to the point that I’m really uncertain how Scrooge has so much money if he loses money on every expedition. In a very cyclic pattern, the episode returns to present day and Launchpad crashes his plane again marking his 101st crash and making the reader ask themselves the age old question: why does Scrooge hire somebody as incompetent as Launchpad to fly his private plane?
This is a pretty good episode and fits with the theme of DuckTales. The only thing that would keep me from giving this episode 5 stars is that there’s really no need to focus with such specificity on Launchpad’s history.
HOME SWEET HOME
The story begins with Scrooge finishing Treasure Island, establishing that this episode will be another recreation of a classic story. That said, there really are a God awful lot of DuckTales episodes that take place in the water. Is this because, well, we’re dealing with ducks?
Huey, Dewey, and Louie get a letter from Uncle Donald Duck, who is working on an aircraft carrier that is stationed off of Greece. Although Scrooge finds that Donald unknowingly found the lost city of Ithaquack, the real reason why Donald Duck is introduced is the popular brand identity associated with Donald.
Scrooge begins a search for the lost city of Ithaquack, which has something to do with Ancient Greece. Once again, it’s frustrating that the show alludes to Ancient Greece but then doesn’t actually use any of this history. Homer and Ulysses are also mentioned as part of the plot, but there’s no real enrichment to be drawn from these characters. Just reference points.
This isn’t a particularly bad episode, but it never ends up being much more than a slightly goofy episode that borrows from a few structural episodes that other better versions of DuckTales have.
DUCK TO THE FUTURE
If this isn’t a Back to the Future reference, I don’t know what it is. The thing is, though, DuckTales is an action TV show and a science fiction-oriented aspect just doesn’t feel at home here. In this case, it’s Magica who causes the time traveling by sending Scrooge into the future to show him a terrifying glimpse of the future. Scrooge’s business is now called Magica McDuke Enterprises. On second thought, though, I don’t know necessarily know how terrifying this is. I don’t know Magica’s character pretty well or even what makes her evil. Maybe Magica would be less of a detriment to Duckberg than
Once in the future, Scrooge finds that the world has largely forgotten him. Gyro, Scrooge’s inventor, is now old and doesn’t recognize Scrooge. Launchpad is old too and still causing crashes. Huey, Louie and Dewey have also gotten older and are not much help to Scrooge. Doofus and Webby get married as well, which is sort of the Lisa Simpson/Milhouse relationship a decade before The Simpsons.
After some time traveling in several different ages to retrieve his Scrooge, eventually Scrooge is able to rescue his lucky dime from Magica. For some reason, the time travel in this episode was much more enjoyable than Home Sweet Home. I think because the time travel here is so much more over the top.
This is my favorite episode in quite a while. It’s weird. It’s adventurous. It’s funny. In the pantheon of DuckTales episodes, this is one of the most solid I’ve ever seen.