Season 4, Episode 3: “Touchdown and Out” 7/14/17
Starring: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pete
Costarring: Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, The Beagle Boys, The Chernabog and his Minions.
Setting: A Demonic Football Stadium
Plot: A relaxing day of tossing around the ol’ pigskin turns into a real slobber knocker when Pete challenges the gang to a game against him and his stable of villains.
This is the sixth sports themed episode following Tapped Out (wrestling), O Futebol Classico (soccer), Bottle Shocked (Formula One racing), Bronco Busted (bull riding) and Good Sports (various sports).
This is the Beagle Boys’ second appearance and first since Season Three’s Sock Burglar.
Best known for his starring role in the “Night on Bald Mountain” segment from Fantasia (1940), Chernabog makes his series debut here. Chernabog is based on the God of Night from Slavic Mythology and Walt Disney referred to him as “the devil himself.”
Chernabog raises the football stadium seemingly from the depths of Hell and fills it with his demonic minions also from Fantasia.
Both the football stadium and the prison the Beagle Boys break out of have the same shape.
The flaming green torches adorning the stadium pay tribute to Maleficent’s green fire from Sleeping Beauty (1959).
The music playing while Pete’s team is pummeling Mickey’s is reminiscent of “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood and the Destroyers.
Pete hits Goofy so hard the colour drains from his body like wet paint.
The gang LITERALLY gets their keisters handed to them.
After going down 126-0, Mickey delivers a Knute Rockne-esque speech to rally his team.
Did Donald kill the Chernabog when he spat the football through his chest???
The Chernabog’s never-ending fall is evocative of Lancelot’s charge from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).
Minnie and Daisy never really get in on the action… appearing merely as unenthusiastic spectators.
Mickey and his gang, outmanned 5 to 3, only lose the game 126-6.
Final Grade: A-
The series has always been really good at making relevant and timely release dates – for example:
O’ Futebol Classico - premiered to coincide with the World Cup
!Feliz Cumpleanos! - premiered on Mickey’s actual birthday
Ghoul Friend, Boiler Room and Black and White – all premiered in October for Halloween
Third Wheel – premiered on Valentine’s Day
All this makes it extremely strange that a football short would be released in July of all months. I know I’m making too much of this but it’s just odd. Anyway, this is a pretty good episode as well as being among the series’ best sports offerings. It’s a simple enough Mickey, Donald and Goofy short with tons of great slapsticky action but what really sets it apart is the inclusion of the Chernabog who turns in an all-time performance. He doesn’t say much (save for a sinister chuckle) but his presence looms large and the scene of him conjuring up a demonic football stadium is an iconic moment for the series. This episode also has a great soundtrack which makes it an early favourite for a Best Music Shorty.