Episode: 321 "The Lost Cargo of Kit Cloudkicker!” 3/1/21
Starring: Dewey Duck, Della Duck, Don Karnage, and Huey Duck
Costarring: Peg Leg Meg and Hardtack Hattie
Featuring: Kit Cloudkicker
Introducing: Molly Cunningham, Rhinokey, and Butterbear
Setting: Cape Suzette
Life is easy when you happen to love what you’re good at. However, most of us aren’t fortunate enough to line those two things up in a way that’s both fulfilling and practical within the context of making a living. That’s why when you find that thing, you need to hang on to it for dear life. For Kit Cloudkicker, it’s “cloud kicking” that he’s best at. But because of expectations from others (Baloo?), he square-peg-in-a-round-holes himself into being a pilot - something that he’s not so good at. Meanwhile, it’s Dewey who takes this moment of clarity from Kit and applies it to his own flightiness (pun INTENDED) in realizing his true talent of being a pilot.
With Kit Cloudkicker, we just have to assume that his backstory lines up with the original incarnation of TaleSpin - orphan and former Sky Pirate (yet, there doesn’t seem to be that past relationship with Don Karnage) who gets more-or-less adopted by a cargo pilot named Baloo, becoming his navigator under the employ of Higher for Hire. And, while his hobby and defining characteristic is air surfing, his ambition in life is to become a pilot and own his own aircraft.
In DuckTales, it’s revealed that Kit’s achieved his goal but the kicker is that he’s quit “cloud kicking” and is a lousy pilot to boot. Because of this, his personality and joie de vivre have suffered as well. In his youth, Kit was sharp and had an edge to him. But, above all, he was as competent as he was brash. This adult version of him doesn’t feature any of those qualities. He’s laid back to a fault, may even be suffering from depression, and is pretty much a screwup who, like Baloo before him, is on the verge of losing his business and plane. The only difference is that Baloo loved flying and was awesome at it. He was just a crappy businessman who was lucky enough to get bailed out by Rebecca Cunningham (more on that later…).
With Dewey, he still hasn’t found what he’s good at (although, I’d argue that he’s an awesome talk show host and should probably be pursuing that). It’s when his mother, Della, is giving him flying lessons that it becomes apparent that he has a knack for it. Except that Dewey’s fear of being “basic” undermines his talent and he insists on showboating or, just “Dew-ing” it, nearly wrecking the Sunchaser in the process. Then, upon meeting Kit, he immediately takes to the flashiness of cloud kicking. But, of course, Dewey’s just as awful at that as Kit is as flying. Or, maybe, it’s okay to not be great at something right from the outset and, instead of just sticking to what comes easiest, challenging yourself to put in the work to become better at the thing you’re more interested in. But that’s not really the message the episode is trying to get across.
It’s in that moment when the stakes are at their highest that Kit finally comes to terms with his own shortcomings and wasted talents. When Huey pleads with them to just “do your thing,” Dewey squawks back about how easy it is to fly a plane. Kit then realizes that he can’t let Dewey go down that same, doomed path of unfulfillment and wasted talents that he’s currently on. Like Kit was in his youth, Dewey’s a hero and giving up on the thing he’s special at will just get in the way of reaching his full potential. With that, Kit makes quick work of Don Karnage and the rest of the pirates by cloud kicking the crap out of them “like a gazelle prancing in the sky.” And then it’s Dewey’s steady hand that catches the Stone of What Was on the nose of the Sea Duck in midair while also providing a safe landing spot for Della to disembark the Butterbear.
At episode’s end, in a nice piece of symmetry that echoes TaleSpin’s pilot, Rebecca’s daughter and Kit’s childhood friend, Molly Cunningham, swoops in to purchase the Sea Duck and give him a job as her “flashy new attraction” and “sidekick” as a cloud kicker in Danger Woman’s Death-Defying Circus. Dewey’s future looks bright as well. Under Della’s tutelage, he will presumably continue to grow as a pilot and get to do what he loves in perpetuity. But, most importantly, we learn that what really makes one “special” is the PRIVILEGE of having super rich and successful friends who will bail you out of your dead end job and suffocating debt with a super cool gig as a stuntman. It also doesn’t hurt to have a bazillionaire uncle who allows his twelve-year-old nephew to take his private plane out for a spin. Must be nice…
Kit Cloudkicker was first introduced in TaleSpin (1990), a Disney Afternoon show that was loosely based on the live-action sitcom Cheers (1982 - 1993). The show also famously used the characters from The Jungle Book (1967). Kit was the stand-in for Mowgli as the impressionable orphan who was taken under Baloo’s wing (pun intended).
The Stone of What Was, another Lost Treasure of Isabella Finch, has the power to fuse two living creatures together and bears the carved likeness of Bumblelion.
Bumblelion is a character from The Wuzzles (1985), a Saturday morning Disney cartoon that featured double-specie’d animals such as Bumblebear and Rhinokey who also feature in this episode. However, those Wuzzles were cute, cuddly, and anthropomorphized while these incarnations are more beastly.
The Wuzzles lived on the Isle of Wuz and their existence was independent of any magical stone or mysticism. There was also no Goat-Chicken character.
That first scene where Kit lost the Stone of What Was occurs a few years prior to the present action at hand.
One of the past due notices taped to Higher for Hire’s door is dated “August 8, 1991” which was the date that the final episode of TS aired.
Baloo’s surname of “von Bruinwald” is taken from the TS episode “The Balooest of the Bluebloods” where he learns that he’s a long lost baron and has a claim to a large fortune.
Kit and Della attended the same flight school together where he was known as “Kid Sky Prancer” because of his skill with the airfoil.
The Sea Duck’s lavatory has a sign on the door that says “The Woods,” answering the famed, rhetorical question about bears and where they do their business.
Baloo gave the moniker of “little britches” to both Mowgli and Kit and now Kit has bestowed the same title onto Dewey.
The names “Rhinokey” and “Butterbear” are never actually said. Instead, they’re haphazardly called “Rhinocerilla/Gorillarocerous” and “Grizzlyfly/Bear-Butterfly-Thing.”
Della and the boys may have won their battle against the Sky Pirates in procuring the Stone of What Was but a sizable enough chunk off the old block found its way back to Don Karnage and I get the feeling he’ll be making his delivery to F.O.W.L. after all.
What happened to the rest of Karnage’s Wuzzl’d-out crew? Were they left marooned on the island in their monstrous states?
Episode: 320 "Beaks in the Shell!” 2/22/21
Starring: Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera, Gandra Dee, Mark Beaks, Huey Duck, Officer Cabrera, Gyro Gearloose, and Lil’ Bulb
Costarring: Manny the Headless Man-Horse, Louie Duck, Bradford Buzzard, and the Eggheads
Setting: Duckburg (the docks, the Money Bin, Gyro’s lab, the GizmoCloud, Joe’s, Fenton’s house)
While literal birds of a nerdy feather, Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera and Gandra Dee are also star-crossed lovers who find themselves on opposite ends of the McDuck Family/F.O.W.L. conflict. Though Gandra has already all but switched allegiances and is just biding her time before she can extricate herself from the fiendish clutches of Bradford Buzzard’s “fiendish organization” once and for all. But in the meantime, the two science geeks have created a place all their own, where they have the freedom to lock beaks and push the boundaries of their imaginations with no repercussions or judgment.
The GizmoCloud was built on their shared love for science and each other. However, as with all collaborations, intentions and expectations can blur and evolve. Where Fenton is more optimistic about their creation, wanting to “share it with the world,” Gandra is cautious and firm in her belief that they “can’t tell anyone about this place.” At times, it’s difficult to tell if their squabbles are about the GC or their relationship itself. Is Gandra projecting her insecurities and fears in what she has with Fenton onto their creation? And, while Fenton talks a big game in espousing the benefits of bringing more people into their world, he still hasn’t told his dear M’Ma about him and Gandra. These too still have a lot to work through.
Gandra has been through it. She’s not a bad person but the lack of support and positive reinforcement she’s received as a scientist (could this be from some not-so-subtle sexism? Hmmm...) has left her jaded and untrusting. It’s pushed her to join F.O.W.L. because the “only people who would fund her work are villains who don’t care how much destruction I cause (which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense since Bradford is all about reigning in the chaos).” On the other hand, even though Fenton has been called a “dangerous crackpot” multiple times and has received very little recognition from his boss, Gyro Gearloose (until just recently when he hired him full-time and gave him the title of “Dr.” in “Astro B.OY.D.!” (S3, E6)), he still has a very strong network of friends and family who bolster his enthusiasm and joie de vivre. Plus, it doesn’t hurt his confidence and emotional state when he’s a literal superhero while poor Gandra is a mere goon in a crime syndicate
It’s not until Mark Beaks infiltrates the GizmoCloud that both their hands are forced, resulting in the GC and their relationship going public. Fenton’s belief in “the more minds, the merrier” manifests itself when his aforementioned support system helps fend off the attack from Beaks. Then Gyro even goes so far as to fix the GC’s glitches. And, despite Gandra’s shady and less-than-desirable-affiliations, Fenton’s M’Ma, a cop(!), still accepts her with open arms because, above anything else, she trusts her son. And, with that, the two love birds no longer have to “keep this (their) little secret” because, in the end, “great science is worth sharing.”
The episode’s title is taken from Ghost in the Shell, a Japanese manga/anime franchise with various incarnations strewn across multiple decades from the 90s and into the present day. From the best I can tell, the series is best described as a post-cyberpunk, futuristic telling of a world where professionals, who may-or-may-not-be cyborgs, solve and prevent crimes using their cyberbrains of which allows them to interface their biological brain with various cybernetworks (whatever all that means…).
It seems crazy irresponsible for Gizmoduck to allow a minor (Huey Duck) to accompany him on his middle-of-the-night, crime fighting escapades. Then again, you could say the same thing for all the crazy adventures Scrooge takes the kids on.
I missed the part where Gandra had been experimenting on herself to the point she’s now considered a “cyborg.”
I love how Huey refers to Fenton as his “best friend.” It’s like how Launchpad considers Dewey to be his bf as well.
Add Louie to the looong list of people who know Gizmoduck’s true identity:
In Fenton’s room, he has a poster of a stylized black and orange “D” hanging above his bed that looks a lot like the Philadelphia Flyers’ (of the NHL) logo.
Mark Beaks and Waddle have fallen on tough times. WIthout having anything left to steal and bereft of any original ideas, he’s left giving Ted Talks to near empty spaces.
While in the GizmoCloud, Mark Beaks conjures up a Hoverboard that looks strikingly similar to the one from Back to the Future II (1989).
Beaks evokes some more movie nostalgia with his finger-wagging “Ah, ah, ah. You didn’t say the magic word” computer prompt that’s a clear homage to Dennis Nedry’s bit from Jurassic Park (1993).
Mark Beaks’ transformation into a literal “big head” is an in-joke in regards to his voice actor, Josh Brenner, who played a character named “Big Head” in Silicon Valley (2014 - 2019).
The “Lost Library” that Bradford is banishing Gandra to could be an allusion to the famed Don Rosa Uncle Scrooge Comic, “Guardians of the Lost Library” (1993). In Rosa’s story, Scrooge and his nephews set out on a globetrotting adventure in search of the fabled library that also ties into the history behind the Junior Woodchucks and Duckburg itself.
Episode: 319 "How Santa Stole Christmas!” 11/30/20
Starring: Scrooge McDuck and Webby Vanderquack
Costarring: Della Duck, Huey Duck, Louie Duck, Dewey Duck, Donald Duck, Launchpad McQuack, Mrs. Beakley, Bouncer Beagle, Big Time Beagle, and Burger Beagle
Featuring: Santa Claus
Appearances by: Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera, Manny the Headless Man Horse, Lena Sabrewing, and Violet Sabrewing
Introducing: Jennifer, The Guardian, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen
Setting: Duckburg (McDuck Manor, the Drake Treehouse, Fenton’s home, the Sabrewing residence, Gyro’s lab, the Beagle Boy’s junkyard, Donald’s boat, and Jennifer’s home) and Cascabel Cavern
Like a Christmas gift, the series is finally delivering on one of its biggest mysteries: what’s the deal with Scrooge McDuck and Santa Claus? Stemming from a cryptic, throw-a-way line in Season One’s “The Impossible Summit of Mount Neverrest!” (S1, E9), Scrooge tersely rebuffs Louie’s lament of missing Santa Claus during one of their adventures by declaring “that man is not allowed in my home… he knows what he did.” Then, in “Last Christmas!” (S2, E6), Scrooge angrily refers to his old nemesis as a “traitor.” And, most recently, in “Timephoon!” (S2, E21), we are introduced to one of McDuck Manor’s Santa Traps of which burns a time-displaced, ninja-intruder alive(!). These little nuggets hinting at some sort of generational beef between Scrooge and the fabled Santa Claus have tickled both the nephews’ and fanbase’s curiosity alike, eliciting much speculation and theories. Now finally, we will learn how Santa may or may not have stolen Christmas.
Upon their first meeting, Scrooge and Santa were but a couple of entrepreneurs passing through a cold and wintry night. While Scrooge is going door-to-door, selling coal to warm hearths, Santa is peddling free toys in hopes of warming hearts. Due to their contrasting styles and skill sets, they quickly realize that they compliment each other perfectly. Where Scrooge’s brusqueness could use a bit of Santa’s holly jolly “Christmas is Magic” act, Santa’s unbridled enthusiasm is in need of Scrooge’s business acumen. Together, they decide to enter into a global coal delivery service aided by the time-slowing properties of the Feliz Navidiamond along with the aerial magic from the Los Renos Voladores.
But before their joint venture can take flight, the “two red-coated, mythical immortals” have a falling out over the benefits of calculating practicality vs. frivolous generosity. Santa’s proposal of giving away the coal for free is immediately at loggerheads with Scrooge’s money-making ideals. Scrooge even condescendingly suggests that Santa may as well “give away his ridiculous toys too.” This leads Scrooge to presenting his friend and partner an ultimatum: “it’s either your Christmas thing, or me.” And that’s how the magical, secular Christmas we all know and love was born… from the fallout of a broken friendship.
In present time, it’s Christmas Eve and Scrooge is taking up the typical measures in fortifying his home against Santa. That is until teh fathman appears on Scrooge’s doorstep nursing a bum leg and needing his help. He then offers his former partner a detente; if Scrooge helps deliver presents this year, Santa will stay away from McDuck Manor forever. Of course, this is nothing more than a benign con from Santa, in hoping that the two ex-friends can use the night to reconcile. With Webby in tow, the night is going well and Scrooge’s chilliness towards the Santa seems to be thawing. That is, until it’s revealed that Scrooge has taken this opportunity to follow through on the old axiom that "revenge is a dish best served... coooald" by swapping out all of Santa’s toys for coal - invoices included.
Santa is furious that Scrooge would betray him like this and ruin Christmas. He’s finally ready to confront Scrooge and give him what-for. But not before Scrooge recognizes the error of his ways from an encounter with a little girl named Jennifer. It’s when the freezing girl takes Scrooge’s gift of coal and refashions it as a doll named “Collette” that he finally realizes that it’s not always the practical thing but a frivolous one that warms the heart and “can carry you through the coldest times.” Scrooge apologizes for his miserly ways, the two “ancient enemies” exchange gifts and engage in a warm embrace. Then the rest of the McDuck family takes to the sky on Santa’s reindeer to help save Christmas.
Scrooge’s idea of Christmas gifts for the kids are practical, yet itchy, knitted caps.
Santa delivers the following toys:
Legends of Legend Quest 2 (Huey)
Cellular phone (Louie)
Thunderhawk Elite Compound Crossbow with Titanium arrows (Webby)
Elanor Roostervelt doll (Jennifer)
Two jingle bells engraved with “McDuck & Claus Delivery” (Scrooge)
Although it seems pretty well established at this point, it still warms my cockles to see B.O.Y.D. firmly entrenched as a member of the Drake family; even having his own, robot-themed stocking hanging next to Doofus.’
Lena sharing a bed with Violet feels like something sisters might do especially on Christmas Eve.
While globetrotting between Rome, Egypt, Japan, and Rome again... it’s revealed that Santa delivers his gifts in alphabetical order. This is a nice example of how, regardless of his other-worldly success, Santa still could’ve benefited from Scrooge’s sense of practicality.
Scrooge procured a treasure map to the Feliz Navidiamond, a legendary gem that can slow time for one night a year, through a trade with a Spanish sailor for some coal.
Cascabel (as in the name of the Cavern where the Feliz Navidiamond is located) is the Spanish word for a projection behind the breech of a muzzle-loading cannon. The significance thereof, I do not know.
Santa articulates the magic of Christmas in his explanation to Webby: “the greatest gift of all: a warm heart - the joy of giving just to give, without a thought of getting.”
In a reference that’s a deeeeep cut to the Scrooge McDuck Comics Universe, the character of Jennifer is in reference to the Uncle Scrooge comic called "Tis The Season" where Scrooge reads through a collection of letters that he’s saved from the young girl, thanking him for all of his help throughout the years.
Scrooge’s gift to Santa is a remote that deactivates all of the Santa Traps that protect McDuck Manor.
Episode: 318 "The Fight for Castle McDuck!” 11/23/20
Starring: Scrooge McDuck, Webby Vanderquack, The Phantom Blot, Pepper, Huey Duck, Louie Duck, Dewey Duck, Fergus McDuck, and Downy McDuck
Costarring: Dirty Dingus McDuck (as a bust) and Murdoch McDuck (as a statue)
Featuring: Matilda McDuck
Introducing: Agnes (as a statue), Danny (as a statue), and Will O’ the Wisps
Setting: Dismal Downs, Scotland (Castle McDuck)
“Sometimes families fight. But the mark of a great family is one who can work through their petty differences to be closer than ever.” Blah-ba-de-quack-blah-quack. Scrooge’s words ring true but hollow when none of the familial squabbles amongst the various subsets of McDuck siblings provide much in the way of revelations or profundity. The most satisfying moment from the McDuck end of things is that Webby, after becoming catatonic from “joy overload” during their last visit to Dismal Downs during “The Secret(s) of Castle McDuck!” (S1, E21) is finally able to take it all in by interrogating the family and chronicling the events thereof. But it’s F.O.W.L.’s very own version of Webby and her budding partnership with the Phantom Blot that offers the most intrigue and development.
I hate to say it but there’s been a feeling of “been-there-done-that” with a lot of the Scrooge and his nephews storylines this season. That’s why the introductions to these new-to-us F.O.W.L. villains have been so much fun. Plus, it always does a story well to humanize and give as much clarity as possible to its antagonists’ motivations. Last week, for example, I was much more interested in Bradford Buzzard’s story than I was with anything involving the Greatest Adventure Family of All Time. And, here, it’s the expansion of Pepper’s character during her first mission that gives this episode that extra pep in its step.
We first met Pepper in “The Phantom and the Sorceress!” (S3, E8) when her inclusion seemed to be nothing more than assigning a face and a name to the nondescript gang of Eggheads. But she’s much more than that. Not only does Pepper break through the Blot’s hardened exterior, she also breathes a sense of life and humanity into the whole organization. Pepper appears to be the heart and soul of F.O.W.L. - the plucky overachiever who, through the sheer power of personality, is actually able to make friends and forge relationships amongst this group of hardened fiends and ne’er-do-wells. Plainly spoken, she’s too good for this lot but she doesn’t let that stop her.
In a lot of ways, she feels like the spiritual counterpart of, one, Webby Vanderquack. They’re both outsiders but, because of this, they find a way to embody the essence of their respective stables moreso than the actual members themselves. Analogous to how Webby has proven to be the much more capable and willing adventurer of the kids, Pepper has managed to do the same with her ingenuity (in figuring out where the bagpipes are hidden) and enthusiasm. Then, much like how Webby was able to break through Lena’s damaged exterior with something as simple as friendship, Pepper does the same with the Phantom Blot. When it’s revealed that the Blot got paired with Pepper because she was the only Egghead who wasn’t deterred by his unlikable intensity, he seems genuinely hurt and then moved by her willingness to work with him. This leads to the Blot saving Pepper’s life and even engaging in a high-five before retreating back into the shadows. The Blot has embraced the idea of being a part of a team with his new pal, Pepper.
Then, there’s this… when Webby tackles Pepper and they both greet each other by offering almost identical introductions, one can’t help to wonder if there’s more going on than meets the eye. Could Webby’s murky family history be traced back to Beakley’s entanglements with F.O.W.L. and even Pepper herself? Are they so similar because they are… *gulp*... family? One can only speculate but, considering the reveal from “The Missing Harp of Mervana!” (S3, E4) that Beakley is, in fact, hiding things and keeping secrets from Webby, it’s to speculate. But that feels like a Season 4 mystery and one that can’t possibly be solved with the care and attention it deserves anytime soon.
In what is supposed to be Huey’s Season, it’s a shame that he hasn’t gotten the focus and attention that Dewey (S1) and Louie (S2) received in their respective seasons. He’s had a few showcase episodes (“The Challenge of the Senior Junior Woodchucks!” (S3, E1) and “The Split Sword of Swanstantine!” (S3, E12)) but he’s been mostly relegated to toting Isabella Finch’s journal around while offering brief exposition of whichever Missing Mystery they’re looking for. Yet, there’s still some season left so we’ll see…
Again, who flew the plane to Scotland??? And, speaking of which, don’t you think Della might’ve liked to have visited her ancestral home especially after being away for so long? I assumed and predicted as much would happen but one of the show’s biggest (and only) flaws is that once Della became an actual character living amongst her family and not just mystery to solve or an out-of-reach idea, there really is no role for her. It’s hard to imagine a spunky go-getter like Della just lazing about at McDuck Manor while her family is off gallivanting about the globe.
The Blessed Bagpipes of Clan McDuck’s power is to “bring life to that which not.” I’m guessing that this means it can only bring life to inanimate objects, like the statues, and not actually raise living beings from the dead but we shall see…
Scrooge’s youngest sister, Matilda McDuck (not to be confused with Hortense, Scrooge’s other sister and mother to Donald and Della), was first mentioned in Carl Barks’ McDuck Family Tree from the 1950s and her appearance is often characterized by a flower in either her hair or hat. She was also the adoptive mother of Gladstone Gander through her marriage to Gustave Gander.
In this incarnation, there is no mention of Gladstone and Matilda is characterized as an entrepreneur with middling success. Her last venture involved goat-gurt and her current “big idea” is an emu farm where she would make her fortune selling their eggs (don’t think too hard about that one).
Don’t get too excited trying to figure out Matilda’s age because the immortality spell extends to her too.
Statuary Hall - where the most legendary members of Clan McDuck are memorialized in stone for all eternity.
No too beat this dead horse AGAIN but the theme of Scrooge’s mortality is once more broached when the prospect of him joining his ancestors in Statuary Hall is discussed.
Along those same lines, the Phantom’s magic sucking machine didn’t mess with the McDuck’s immortality spell, did it?
We finally get the story behind what became of Scrooge’s pet clump of hair, Whiskers. Matilda painted it for her Matil-dos, a “very popular salon” and another one of her businesses.
While Huey and Louie are searching through the bagpipes, they accidentally unleash green magical orbs called Will O’ the Wisps. In real life, the Wisps are a real life, scientific phenomenon explained away as bioluminescence but are known in folklore as little balls of light seen as fairies or ghosts that appear to travelers at night and are often misleading. Metaphorically, the Wisps are also a symbol of false hope or an impossible goal.
Of the McDuck’s memorialized in Statuary Hall, the only ones previously mentioned in the series are Murdoch McDuck and Dirty Dingus McDuck (Fergus’ father) who appeared as ghosts in "The Secret(s) of Castle McDuck!" (S1, E21).
The new members of Clan McDuck we meet in animated-statue-form are as follows:
The three statues that didn’t come to life appear to be Sir Eider McDuck, Hugh “Seafoam” McDuck, Sir Roast McDuck, Quagmire McDuck, and Molly Mallard who also all appeared as ghosts in "The Secret(s) of Castle McDuck!" (S1, E21).
Episode: 317 "The First Adventure!” 11/16/20
Starring: Scrooge McDuck, Donald Duck, Della Duck, Bradford Buzzard, and Black Heron
Costarring: Mrs. Beakley, Ludwig Von Drake, Duckworth
Introducing: Captain Yellow Beak
Setting: London (S.H.U.S.H. Headquarters), Duckburg (The Money Bin), and Phantom Island
Before moving forward with the ever escalating clash between F.O.W.L. and the Greatest Adventure Family of All Time, we take a trip down memory lane to see the opposing sides’ respective origin stories. Even more interesting though, is how the two groups’ leaders, Scrooge McDuck and Bradford Buzzard, each inadvertently play roles in both creating and strengthening their rivals’ standing. It’s that symbiotic hero/villain relationship that heightens the conflict and propels the story towards its inevitable endpoint.
It’s hard to believe but Scrooge McDuck wasn’t always the fun-loving adventure seeker who relishes the chase for fortune more than the mythical baubles he’s procured along the way. For the overwhelming majority of his life, he was a solo act who characterized his globetrotting with all the soullessness of “corporate conquests” and “business trips.” This would all change though when his nephew and niece, Donald and Della, tag along on his search for the Binding Papyrus. Then, in much the same way Huey, Dewey, and Louie reinvigorate him from his doldrums (due to his role in Della’s disappearance) in the show’s pilot “Woo-hoo!” (S1, E1), Donald and Della first energize him here through the simple notion of seeing and embracing the “fun” of it all. Now that Scrooge has shed the role of “grouchy uncle” and embraced his avuncular responsibilities, he has decided to forego the day-to-day business of running McDuck Enterprises to “spend more time adventuring with (his) heirs.”
While it’s easy to get caught up in the swashbuckling antics of our heroes amidst the blustery bombast of declarations like “I’m Scrooge McDuck. As long as adventure courses through my veins, no villain can best me!” It’s Bradford Buzzard’s beginnings that prove most compelling as he ultimately vultures the meat of the story (as one does) while managing to “best” Scrooge McDuck. We’ve gotten inklings of Bradford’s nature and motivations in the past but nothing quite so revelatory as this. Back in the swingin’ 60s, Bradford was a mop topped, pencil pushing S.H.U.S.H. accountant with a penchant for delusions of grandeur and “kooky bad-guy stuff.” It’s when his hand wringing over the chaotic, money draining nature of S.H.U.S.H.’s many escapades is met with such contempt and derision by his boss, Ludwig Von Drake, that he ultimately spins off from his “world-saving organization” and creates “a world-stealing one.”
It’s after Bradford establishes F.O.W.L. alongside notorious super-villain, Black Heron, that his purpose becomes less clear and more fraught. Bradford has always had an uneasy relationship with the unadulterated fiendishness he’s been forced to collaborate with. Bradford’s vision is much more nuanced. Yes, he wants to “efficiently rule the world from the shadows with an iron fist” but he legitimately sees himself as a necessary saviour who brings balance and order. And now, while they provide the muscle for his outfit, Bradford seems to spend just as much energy attempting to keep his reckless foot soldiers at bay than anything else. Bradford’s no villain, he constantly reminds Heron, he’s an “undercover counteragent.” However, it’s starting to feel like these types of declarations are made more to convince himself than anything else.
Which brings us back to Scrooge and family… in “Let’s Get Dangerous!” (S3, E12), Bradford reveals that the biggest threat to him achieving his goal of reigning in the world’s chaos is the McDuck family’s constant adventuring. Yet, who provides the opposition to Scrooge in his quest for the Binding Papyrus resulting in the very “fun” that creates the Greatest Adventure Family of All Time? It’s Bradford himself - he creates the chaos! Then, in turn, it’s his reckless behaviour in using the Papyrus to wipe the ducks’ memory of his role in the affair that makes it possible for him to become CFO of McDuck Enterprises. This moment, whether he likes it or not, is when Bradford finally embraces his inner villainy. He can patronize and scold his ne’er-do-well lackeys all he wants; the chaos Bradford breeds is the very same chaos he seeks to eliminate.
We know that the 1960s flashback scene takes place before the events in “From the Confidential Case Files of Agent 22!” (S1, E18) by virtue of the fact that F.O.W.L. doesn’t exist yet and Black Heron still has a non-robotic right arm.
Back in the 60s, Ludwig Von Drake is seen solving a Rubik’s cube which wouldn’t be invented until the 1970s. Could it be that Ludwig is a time traveler or do we just chalk it up to the DuckTales timeline not exactly jibing with our own?
Though not explicitly stated, the main story probably takes place in the early 90s - roughly the same time period (albeit, a bit earlier) as when we first met young Donald and Della in “Last Christmas” (S2, E6).
During Scrooge’s morning rundown, Duckworth notes a brief trip to mystical Tralla La to visit their bottle cap plants. The mythical land first appeared in 1954 as the title of a story from Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge series of comic books. It also was the subject of the DT ’87 episode, “The Land of Tralla La.” Tralla La is a utopia, of sorts, deep within the Himalayas where money doesn’t exist. However, during Scrooge’s visit, he disposes of his bottle caps from his medication which, in turn, are seen as rare treasures and become the basis of Tralla La’s first monetary system.
Duckworth also mentions a routine security check at Falcon Island. We learned from “The Richest Duck in the World!” (S2, E23) that the island is where Scrooge has imprisoned the Bombie - a creature that is cursed to hunt down whoever holds the title of Richest Person in the World.
The handwritten note that Scrooge’s sister, Hortense, sends with Donald and Della mirrors the note that Della sent when she asked Donald to watch Huey, Dewey, and Louie from the one-page comic strip, “Donald’s Nephews” (1956) - right down to the line about lighting firecrackers under their father’s chair.
Della references Scrooge’s “crazy fun adventures” from the past such as “The Colossus of the Nile” (1996) and The “Treasure of the Ten Avatars” (1996), which are both issues from the Uncle Scrooge Adventures series of comic books.
Duckworth giving Donald and Della a sack of marbles is a callback to Scrooge’s same offering to the nephews in “Woo-oo” (S1, E1).
Beakley, now Director 22, has received a promotion or two in the thirty years since her days as an agent in S.H.U.S.H.
Captain Yellow Beak first appeared in Carl Barks’ very first duck comic as well as Donald’s first American book, “Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold” (1942).
For all of Scrooge’s many accomplishments and skills, you’d think he’d at least know how to pilot a plane. Or, at the very least, he should present a more viable option in performing an emergency landing than an early adolescent Della - even with her video game, flight simulator experience.
While exploring Phantom Island, Scrooge regales Donald and Della with the story about his hunt for “The Treasure of the Golden Sun.” Of course, he’s giving them the plot points from DT ‘87’s five-part-pilot, of the same name. He even mentions the villain, El Capitan, and the Wakka River (called the Wakka-Wakka River in the original story). What’s curious though is that Scrooge says it was all for naught - “no gold, no treasure, didn’t even get a souvenir.” However, we’ve seen one of the giant golden discs from the Temple of the Golden Sun multiple times; first stashed away in Scrooge’s garage and now on display in the Adventures Wing of the Duckburg Museum as seen in “Treasure of the Found Lamp” (S2, E8).
We first saw the Von Drake Action Cane PPK in the aforementioned “From the Confidential Case Files of Agent 22!”
In order to save Donald and Della from Heron, Scrooge quickly writes on the Papyrus “...be lost once more until the rightful heir of Scrooge McDuck can find your final resting place.” I don’t mean to belabour the point from last week but, once again, the idea of Scrooge’s mortality is once again in play. This will also surely play into this season’s endgame with Donald, Della, and the kids having to find the Papyrus to save Scrooge from whatever dastardly pinfeathered plan F.O.W.L. has in store for him.
Episode: 316 "New Gods on the Block!” 11/9/20
Starring: Huey Duck, Dewey Duck, Louie Duck, Webby Vanderquack, Donald Duck, Daisy, Zeus, Storkules, Selene, Scrooge McDuck, and Della Duck,
Costarring: Flintheart Glomgold
Appearances by: Gibbous and Good Boy
Introducing: Hades, Crownus the Titan, Cupid, and Sowvanna
Setting: MonGullia and Duckburg (McDuck Manor and Duckburg Pier)
We’re all replaceable; whether it’s Jim Starling, Zeus, or even *gasp* Scrooge McDuck. The question is, when that time comes, will it be met with resistance, is it simply out of one’s control, or will it be a voluntary passing of the torch? I hate to say it but the weighty issues of mortality and legacy have been burbling just below the surface all season and they could be hurtling us towards a major shakeup within the McDuck family. With no F.O.W.L. or Missing Mysteries to speak of this episode, it may be time to forecast where “the greatest family of adventurers and treasure hunters of all time” (and the show) is headed.
It’s hard to look at the dysfunctional family of Greek Gods and not feel like you’re seeing a bizzaro, funhouse mirror version of the McDucks. The biggest difference being, their patriarchal figure is a petulant man-child who is prone to destructive “godly whims.” This is why Zeus’s children, Storkules and Selene, have taken his laurel which effectively strips him of his powers as well as his lofty title as King of the Gods. Not only that, Storkules and Selene are looking to replace their father by crowning a new ruler. Of course, Zeus ends up reclaiming his throne, albeit pathetically, but the point remains… nothing is forever.
Which brings us to Scrooge… there will be no familial coup d'etat or hostile takeover but his place as the spry and virile 150-ish-year-old does feel a bit tenuous and he knows it. The clues are there and mounting:
We are all hoping that the show gets renewed and the series goes on forever but we all know that’s now how TV works. If DuckTales does end, it won’t be a sad or tragic ending, but it could be a bittersweet one where Scrooge hangs up his spats for good with Donald and Della heading up the Adventure Team. Even still, something terrible could happen to Scrooge, especially at the hands of F.O.W.L., and there could be a moment or prolonged period where Scrooge is on the sidelines and the rest of the family has to take over. The nephews are definitely more the main character in this modern incarnation as opposed to Scrooge’s firm grip as the unquestioned lead in DT ‘87. We could always have a Star Trek-esque arc for season 5 where treasure hunting takes a back seat in lieu of... “The Search for Scrooge.”
Genghis (or Hengis) Kahn has a rich history in the Scrooge McDuck universe. “The Lost Crown of Scrooge McDuck” was first the title of a Carl Barks’ comic from his 1950s Uncle Scrooge series and then an episode of the same name in DuckTales 87.
Again, we have to assume that Launchpad flew Scrooge and team to Mongullia since Della was at home waiting for them. This begs two questions: why isn’t LP accompanying them on their adventure and why is Della always staying at home? She hasn’t been on a treasure hunt or left Duckburg since “The Lost Harp of Mervana!” (S2, E4).
Junior Woodchuck Guidebook Rule #642: A team’s only as strong as its weakest link.
The effects of the rare failed Scrooge adventure: first comes the wallowing, then the anger, then he shakes it off.
This is Donald and Daisy’s second date. Surely, their meeting in “Louie’s 11” (S3, E5) can’t be counted as their first date. Meaning, their first rendezvous must’ve occurred offscreen.
Strong move by Donald to host their second date at his boat which is docked in the pool at McDuck Manor. It shows that he’s grounded while also flaunting his family money, implicitly reminding Daisy that he’s in line to inherit GAZILLIONS!
As for the kids’ choices for their godly powers, they are as follows and provide insight into their character:
Dewey - god of fortune (obsession with monetary means)
Huey - god of intuition (obsession with knowledge and over-preparing)
Webby - goddess of sunny friendship get-along times (obsession with maximizing everyone’s happiness)
Dewey - forgets to choose a god power and just does a dance routine (obsession with Dew-ing whatever he wants?)
Hades (God of the Underworld/Zeus’ brother) makes his first appearance. He can be seen texting fellow gods Athena (Goddess of War/Zeus’ daughter) and Poseidon (God of the Sea/brother of Zeus).
Eros (or Cupid) also appears, albeit bound and gagged, when Storkules steals his arrows and attempts to shoot Donald and Daisy.
I love how Daisy just giggles and let’s Donald hold her during their date. It’s a nice illustration of her declaration that she “feels like she can be (herself) around him.” The way their budding relationship is presented here is also a refreshing contrast to what we’ve grown to expect from them. In the past, Donald’s and Daisy’s relationship has been marked by tumult and strife, especially in comparison to that of their contemporaries, Mickey and Minnie. Although, their squabbles have yielded two of my all-time favourite Disney shorts in Donald’s Diary (1954) and “The Adorable Couple” (2104).
I’m guessing the Titan that Hercules summons is the previously mentioned Crownus. After all, the real-life Cronus’ story somewhat mirrors this episode where the Titan dethrones his father only for his children to then dethrone him.
I would’ve loved to see the new McDuck special ops team of Penumbra (the brawn), Quackfaster (the wildcard), and Djinn (special reconnaissance) in action. Don’t get me wrong, the kids are GREAT, but would it kill them to give us just one episode where we get an adult only adventure?
Episode: 315 "The Split Sword of Swanstantine!” 11/2/20
Starring: Huey Duck, Lena Sabrewing, Scrooge McDuck, Dewey Duck, Webby Vanderquack, Louie Duck, Violet Sabrewing, Black Heron, Steelbeak, Gandra Dee, and John D. Rockerduck
Costarring: Ugly Mug
Appearances by: Hack Stabnikov, Stinky Boots, Peg Leg Meg, Clown and Capsule
Introducing: Christoph and Fluffy
Setting: Instanbird (the Grand Bazaar and the Spice-A-Torium)
As with most MacGuffins, it’s not about the treasure, it’s about the character development and growth from which it inspires... or, as Dewey puts it, “the friends we made along the way.” The McDucks’ bid to beat those “feculent F.O.W.L. agents” in a race to acquire the missing parts to the eponymous Split Sword of Swanstantine is no different. In this instance, the treasure hunt is about the kids discovering their respective inner strength of which the Sword supposedly channels. Or, to look at it even deeper, the Split Sword represents the Duality of Man - especially as it pertains to Huey Duck.
To paraphrase Greek philosopher Plato, the Duality of Man is the idea that one part of man lives in his mind, thinking and observing, while another part moves and creates. Huey, the nerdy triplet, has always been more about preparation and planning. Even when he does spring into action, it’s under the guidance of his Junior Woodchuck Guidebook or within the parameters of whatever list he’s formulated to best maximize efficiency and success. Rarely does Huey move based on instinct or impulse.
However, this approach proves to be woefully ineffective when Huey and Lena find themselves up against the unhinged brutishness of Steelbeak. Even when Lena freezes time and transports them into Huey’s mindscape, he doubles down on his efforts of analyzing every scenario to create the perfect plan. Lena wants to appeal to his baser, more physical nature but Huey stubbornly clutches to order, refusing to “give in to the animal within.” Of course, Steelbeak cuts through these overthought, milquetoast attempts like a sharpened blade through roast duck.
This is where the Duke of Making a Mess steps in. Like Dewey’s Dude Popular, Huey also has an alter ego. However, he’s been suppressing this side of himself because it gets “in the way of (his) thinking” and “is against everything (he) stands for.” The Duke is his exact opposite. It’s a snarling, sharp-toothed creature born from “pure, chaotic rage” (think Donald in fight mode) that serves as an antidote to his more cerebral and frustratingly ordered inclinations.
Luckily, Huey is paired off with Lena who has recently battled and conquered her own demons. As the Duke bangs against the steel door locked inside the deep recesses of Huey’s mindscape, Lena pleads with him to let it out. “You can’t ignore the parts of yourself you don’t like, even the parts you’re afraid of. You have to own them.” Huey reluctantly listens to Lena, sucks it up, and lets the Duke out. By channeling his inner strength, Huey ultimately reaches a communion with the aforementioned “animal within” and is able to draw upon his newfound duality of order and chaos to pluck the threat of Steelbeak.
Dewey (confidence), Webby (friendship with Dewey), Louie/Violet (honesty), and Scrooge (the kids) also managed to channel their inner strength but, lest we forget, this is Huey’s season and his journey was much more fraught and emotionally resonant. Plus, the reveal of the Duke of Making a Mess will almost certainly prove to be a character altering development for Huey.
And, while F.O.W.L. is severely lacking in regards to inner strength, coming home with the Sword wasn’t exactly their endgame anyway. During the course of her episode-long-duel with Scrooge, Black Heron was able to accomplish their larger mission by plucking a plume from Scrooge’s pinfeathers. What it’s for, we don’t know, but it most certainly has to do with some nefarious plot by which to gain an advantage over Scrooge and his family.
Last week, Mrs. Beakley put on quite the emotional and violent performance all for the sake of impressing upon the children how dangerous F.O.W.L. is. Yet, she is nowhere to be seen in this episode, seemingly feeling good about letting Scrooge take six kids to a foreign land to treasure hunt and fight highly trained agents. She must be protecting McDuck Manor or something…
Who flew the family to Instanbill? We don’t see or hear any mention of either Della or Launchpad. Surely, Scrooge could’ve used another adult to help fight off F.O.W.L. or, at the very least, supervise the children.
The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul is actually a real thing. It’s one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, boasting 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops.
Scrooge promised the reward of shish kabob once they found the Sword and he delivered at episode’s end
From Isabella Finch’s Journal of Missing Mysteries, “Swanstantine the Great was a warrior-king. The mystical sword channeled the bearer’s inner strength. When he died, the king ordered the sword be divided into three pieces and hidden within the very city he founded centuries ago.”
Also from the Journal, the three parts to the Sword can be found in the “Heavens” (the handle), the “Underworld” (the guard), and the “Splendor of the Earth” (the blade).
In real life, Constantine was the Emperor of Rome from 306 to 337 who, most notably, was the first ruler to adhere to Christianity.
The Sword of Constantine is an actual 2007 historical book that documents the split between Judaism and Christianity - fun stuff!
Apparently, Scrooge interrupted another McDuck Manor sleepover (the sixth!) by yelling “everybody in the plane!” and that’s why the pajama’d Sabrewing sisters are present on the trip.
In the Spice-A-Torium, there’s a poster of Flintheart Glomgold with the message of “Do not accept checks from this man!”
Christoph has a Sallah (from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark/Last Crusade) vibe going for him.
Louie references the Spoonerville Feisty Fiesta Cook-Off which, of course, took place in the town where Goof Troop (1992) took place.
Among the ne’er-do-wells hanging out at the Spice-A-Torium are:
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of the Duke of Making a Mess. He was first mentioned in “The Infernal Internship of Mark Beaks” (S1, E7). When Huey loses out on the internship to Dewey, he breaks, descending into multiple zany characters - the last being the Duke of Making a Mess!
Episode: 314 "Escape from the ImpossiBin!” 10/26/20
Starring: Scrooge McDuck, Della Duck, Louie Duck, Mrs. Beakley, Webby Vanderquack, Huey Duck, Dewey Duck, Donald Duck, and Bradford Buzzard
Costarring: Lil Bulb, Gandra Dee, Goldie O’Gilt, Vero, Aletheia, Darkwing Duck, Gene the Genie, and the Phantom Blot
Setting: Duckburg (McDuck Manor and The Money Bin)
After last week’s much ballyhooed sojourn into St. Canard, this episode is a much needed palate cleanser that recalibrates us, and the McDuck family, for the second half of the season. Since Bradford Buzzard has been exposed as the proverbial fox in the henhouse, F.O.W.L. has also managed to vulture all of the Missing Mysteries that the McDucks had previously found. But before “the greatest family of adventurers and treasure hunters of all time” can return the relics to their rightful place and foil F.O.W.L. once and for all, they must get on the same page for the fight ahead.
Scrooge is feeling vulnerable and betrayed… and for good reason. Bradford “knows everything about (him), (his) business, and (his) weaknesses.” But he’s “smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies” so Scrooge’s immediate response is to outwork his new rival by testing out the Money Bin’s vaunted security system. To do so, he’s enlisted the help of “the two most cunning individuals (he) knows” - Della and Louie to try to find any weaknesses in its defense. He truly runs them through the gamut too. The two must contend with a room full of ultraviolet saw blades, anti-gravitational runes, a time loop room, a tentacle monster, and even a robot made in the image of “the greatest warrior of the past century,” Scrooge himself.
But it’s Scrooge’s boner of forgetting the password to the security system that proves to be the biggest threat to the trio. I’ve mentioned this before but you have to wonder if Scrooge’s age is starting to get the best of him. But, when Bradford manages to commandeer the Scrooge-bot with the help of Gandra Dee, the family is able to rally back by using their experience and knack for adventuring to ward off the attack.
Meanwhile, at McDuck Manor, Mrs. Beakley and Webby have begun training Huey, Dewey, and Donald to become “the best prepared defense team of all time.” Like Scrooge, Webby and Mrs. B are pushing things to the limit. Poor Huey and Dewey are a bit soft and ill-prepared compared to the hard-boiled intensity of Webby. In fact, after Huey becomes overwhelmed and is reduced to tears due to Webby’s psychological and physical warfare, she starts to question the methods of her granny. However, Beakley doesn’t back down, continuing to stress the seriousness of the threat that F.O.W.L poses.
This results in the two engaging in prolonged physical combat that is, as Dewey puts it, both “exciting and horrifying.” While emotional (she even wipes away a few tears), Beakley is steely in her resolve that this is the best method in which to prepare the children for what lies ahead. Even Donald objects to her no-holds-barred approach. But it’s not until Webby parries one of her kicks, resulting in Mrs. Beakley nearly falling off the roof of McDuck Manor, that she comes to her senses.
The biggest takeaway from all of this is, despite their typical brand of cocksure bluster, that Beakley is scared and so is Scrooge. They know more about the diabolical nature of F.O.W.L. than anyone else and they were both willing to put their family in harm’s way to prepare them. But it’s the kids who set them right. Webby correctly states that “we won’t get stronger by attacking the people we love.” Going forward, they will depend on the strength of their bond as a family and their like experience in adventuring. The McDuck family is “done playing defensively.” No more hunkering down in the Money Bin and/or McDuck Manor... they’re “ready to fight.”
Beakley declares that F.O.W.L. was long thought to have been eliminated by agents of S.H.U.S.H. Lest we forget, Beakley, known as Agent 22, was once a member of S.H.U.S.H and in “The Secret Case Files of Agent #22!” (S1, E17) we were taken back in time to when Scrooge, as a freelancer, teamed up with 22 to work a case.
Appearing on Beakley’s and Webby’s dry erase board of “Potential Traitors” are Lil Bulb, “Uncle” Donald, Fenton, Bluescreen Beagle, and “Louie.” Most intriguing is the character of Bluescreen of whom we’ve never heard mentioned, nor have we met. Even more curious is his role as a traitor since that would mean that he would have to be in league with Scrooge and not his assumed association with the Beagle Boys. I’d also guess that he’s some sort of computer hacker because, you know… like the dreaded Blue Screen of Death that Windows users are all too familiar with.
While not appearing this episode, the presence of both Gyro Gearlosse and Mrs. Quackfaster loom large since their “dementedly dangerous” minds are what’s responsible for the ImpossiBin’s many traps.
The Ancient Rosa Runes are in homage to Don Rosa who took up the mantle of scribing and illustrating the Uncle Scrooge comics after Don Barks retired.
Della’s ire for Gyro is so pointed and, dare I say, passionate you would almost guess they had some kind of history… but then Della mentions her resentment over the liquorice flavoured gum that KEPT HER ALIVE for a decade (seriously, she should be grateful).
Among the books that Louie pulls in Quackfaster’s Archive are the following:
During Webby and Beakley’s battle, you can see a Ziggy Starduck poster on the wall… an obvious reference to David Bowie.
One small detail that can’t be overlooked is that Louie successfully made the dive into Scrooge’s money! All the way back in “The Great Dime Chase!” (S1, E3), we learned that performing the iconic plunge is no small feat that takes “muscles and dexterity” lest you’d risk “cracking your skull!” Louie truly has learned a thing or two from his uncle.
While the McDucks were distracted with the Bin and training, the Eggheads stole the Harp of Mervana, Steelbeak pilfered the Solego Circuit, and the Phantom Blot took Gene the Genie.
This version of Darkwing Duck has his first encounter with Steelbeak who was one of his main villains from DW ‘91. And, from the looks of it, Steelbeak beat DW up but good.
Poor Fenton… we always knew that Sandra Dee wasn’t what she presented herself as but you have to wonder how legitimate her feelings for Fenton are and how that will play out in the future.
Episode: 312 "Let’s Get Dangerous!” 10/19/20
Starring: Darkwing Duck/Drake Mallard, Launchpad McQuack, Dewey Duck, Huey Duck, Louie Duck, Scrooge McDuck, Bradford Buzzard, Quackerjack, Megavolt, Dr. Reginald Bushroot, and Liquidator
Costarring: Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera/Gizmoduck, Zan Owlson, and Black Heron
Featuring: Gosalyn Waddlemeyer and Dr. Taurus Bulba
Introducing: Dr. Thad Waddlemeyer and W.A.N.D.A.
A Cameo by: Bonkers D. Bobcat
Setting: St. Canard (Dr. Bulba’s Lab, Darkwing Duck’s Secret Headquarters, Cranky Frank’s)
“You have to tear things down first before you make something new - that’s innovation!” These are the words of blowhard, supervillain-hiding-in-plain-sight, Dr. Taurus Bulba, in bloviating on his latest invention, the Ramrod. And it’s not so dissimilar to what the creative braintrust behind our favourite animated series is doing - albeit, not as wanton and reckless. Unlike the aforementioned Ramrod, the show isn’t merely conjuring something from nothing, nor is it destroying the past like Bulba would suggest. What it is doing, though, is innovating. The world of Darkwing Duck is being reimagined and canonized within that of DuckTales by pulling matter from past incarnations… or other dimensions - LIKE THE RAMROD!
We’ve known something like this was coming since Launchpad’s superfandom of show-within-the-show, Darkwing Duck and its star Jim Starling, was revealed in “Beware the B.U.D.D.Y. System!” (S1, E11). And then, when the corresponding fall/rise of Starling/Mallard was chronicled in “The Duck Knight Rises!” (S2, E16), it was a fait accompli. Now that we’ve finally crossed the Autubon Bay Bridge from Duckburg and into St. Canard, we have fully entered the realm of the Purple Protector himself, Darkwing Duck.
It’s easy to get lost amidst the overwhelming deluge of references and meta-storytelling (and, I promise, we will) but there is an actual story here. On paper, former actor and budding vigilante, Drake Mallard, has it all. Since bringing the Darkwing Duck character off the screen and into the streets, he’s systematically reached all the benchmarks in becoming a hero:
But since donning the cape, Darkwing Duck has been presumably spending most of his nights perched atop St. Canard’s skyline, scanning the city for any opportunity to “get dangerous” but to no avail. The thing is that DW doesn’t have any actual crime to thwart. Since new mayor, Zan Owlson, took office, she’s managed to clean up the streets of St. Canard’s and, with that, rid itself of its ignominious title of the “supervillain capital of the world.” Without bad guys, DW has no one to lock beaks with nor does he have anyone to help. However, all that changes once Darkwing is confronted by displaced youth, Gosalyn Waddlemeyer. Her plea for help pulls him into a multi-dimensional conspiracy backed by a criminal organization whose fiendish plot threatens not only all of reality but Scrooge McDuck and his family as well.
Gosalyn’s grandfather, Dr. Waddlemeyer, was once Bulba’s lab partner and helped create the aforementioned Ramrod. But a falling-out between the two resulted in Waddlemeyer’s disappearance, leaving Gosalyn an orphan and determined to expose Bulba and find her grandpa. On the McDuck side of things, Huey is growing suspicious of Bulba and the Ramrod himself and soon uncovers their secret. The machine is using one of Isabella Finch’s Missing Mysteries, the Solego Circuit, to suck objects (and people) in from other dimensions (which are really just windows into every work of fiction) and into their world. Once Bulba’s deranged scheme is revealed, he goes full villain and uses the Ramrod to pull in the supervillains from Jim Starling’s Darkwing Duck to wreak havoc on St. Canard.
With Quackerjack, Bushroot, Megavolt, and Liquidator on the loose, DW finally has his stable of villains to contend with. But his biggest challenge proves to be balancing fighting the bad guys with keeping Gosalyn safe and reuniting her with her grandpa. In fact, he’s exhausted himself from staying up all night with Fenton, trying to figure out how to find Dr. Waddlemeyer. While DW burns the candle at both ends, Launchpad captures the plight of the hero best; “Anyone can do the right thing when it’s easy, but it’s what you do when things are hard that makes you a hero.” And Gosalyn more than proves her mettle in that regard by destroying the increasingly erratic Ramrod rather than further risk everyone else’s lives by searching in vain for her grandpa. Although the new crime fighting trio didn’t succeed in their ultimate goal, they have hit their stride as a team and, more importantly, come together as an “adventure family.”
But the biggest arc-altering development is F.O.W.L.’s role in all of this. It turns out that Dr. Bulba has been under the employ of Bradford Buzzard and his attempts to crack the Solego Circuit are all a part of F.O.W.L.’s master plan for world domination. Bradford wants all chaos to be reigned in and he sees the McDuck family’s constant adventuring as the biggest threat to his campaign. This shows that he’s a different and more dangerous kind of big bad than what the McDucks have faced in the past. Unlike Magica DeSpell and Lunaris, Bradford doesn’t consider himself a villain and actually sees himself as protecting reality from Scrooge and his family. Not much is scarier than a bad guy thinking he’s the good guy.
Now that Bradford is no longer working from a position of stealth within the hierarchy of McDuck Enterprises, he and his team of flunkies will likely be turning up the heat in their efforts to put an end to Scrooge and his family’s adventure seeking antics. Likewise, because of Bradford’s outing as the proverbial fox in the henhouse, Scrooge will almost assuredly set forth plans to go on the offensive against F.O.W.L. The race to retrieve the rest of Finch’s Missing Mysteries is about to reach a fever pitch.
But the bigger, series-altering question remains: will Darkwing Duck remain within the DuckTales incubator or will it leave the proverbial nest and soar on its own? There’s probably enough there now that DW has Bulba’s Supervillain Solutions to contend with along with the matter of reuniting Gosalyn with her family for them to spin him off proper into its own show. My only concern would’ve been “what would happen to Launchpad” but he has already confirmed that he will remain a part of both universes (as long as he doesn’t off himself sleeping while driving). But what does this mean for the strongly hinted at “Disney Afternoon’iverse” as a whole? With Solego’s Circuit firmly established as a canon-bending function of the show, the possibilities are endless. Any piece of fiction can be pulled/sent through a trans-dimensional rift and that is THRILLING.
So, how does all of this work? I guess we have to assume that Drake’s (former?) acting career is what’s bankrolling the various expenses of being a hero. He’s also indirectly being funded by McDuck Enterprises since Fenton is supplying the gadgets. In DD ‘91, it stands to reason that S.H.U.S.H. was supporting him financially. Although, it was never explicitly stated.
And, as fun as all of this is (and it really is!), can we talk about how ridiculous the whole premise is? I mean, imagine if Michael Keaton all of a sudden started dressing up like Batman in real life and started fighting crime.
One of the best pieces of retrofitting this episode does is in correcting the Launchpad issue. In DW ‘91, LP was DW’s loyal sidekick with nary a mention of what happened to his employment under Scrooge other than him referring to Mr. McD as his former boss. As a kid, I found all this very upsetting… was LP fired, is Scrooge dead, WHAT HAPPNED???
Speaking of Launchpad McQuack, I’ve oft complained about how overwhelmingly dumb they’ve made him in this series and how it’s taken away from the heart he would regularly display in the original series. But here, he’s finally seemed to perfect threading the needle between being hilarious and appropriately tender while still maintaining his dim jocularity.
In DD ‘91 Taurus Bulba’s appearance is similar enough to this new incarnation but there are many differences as well as a few similarities between the two worth noting. The old Bulba wasn’t a scientist, but more of a criminal mastermind. He was also Russian. Bulba wasn’t the leader of the Fearsome Four either, that job belonged to Negaduck (which he called the Fearsome Five). Similarly, he also served as the main villain in DD ‘91’s two-part-pilot, “Darkly Dawns the Duck,” and was also responsible for Dr. Waddlemeyer’s disappearance (although then, he was murdered by Bulba’s henchmen).
Former CEO of Glomgold Industries, Zan Owlson, is saying and doing all the right things as the crime busting mayor of St. Canard. But, lest we forget from whence we last saw her, she declared that she was leaving Glomgold to become her own billionaire. Last I checked, a local level politician doesn’t become that rich without a fair amount of corruption and chicanery. I don’t trust her.
I LOVE it when Scrooge immediately trusts Huey’s suspicions about the Ramrod and forces the issue with Bulba. A common trope is adults not trusting or believing the intuition of children (like DW didn’t initially with Gosalyn) until it’s too late. Here, Scrooge indulges his nephew without hesitation.
DW is kind of a doofus and a klutz but he is more than adept (and actually kind of impressive) at hand-to-hand combat as he gives his much bigger foe, Taurus Bulba, all that he can handle.
This isn’t Solego’s first foray into the Disney Afternoon’iverse, in fact, he’s the one who first made it a possibility. All the way back in 1994, Solego was the main antagonist in Disney Adventures 4-part-crossover extravaganza called “The Legend of the Chaos God.” While still a crocodile looking creature, he wasn’t just a “mad thinker” like in DT ‘17, but a sorcerer as well as the eponymous “Chaos God.” For the first time, one story manages to incorporate DuckTales, Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, and Goof Troop. Among the many interesting details the crossover reveals is that TaleSpin takes place fifty years before the other four shows.
We’ll wait on deep-diving into the rest of the Fearsome Four but we can get into Bushroot a little bit since his origin story is hinted at by DW and LP. Respected and renowned scientist, Dr. Reginald Bushroot, was about to have his funding cut so, in desperation, he performed one of his experiments on himself resulting in him becoming a hybrid plant-duck creature. This results in him becoming less evil and more just sad and lonely which drives him to insanity. He’s an incredibly complex and sympathetic character despite being a proverbial thorn in DW’s side.
Bonkers D. Bobcat of one of the less popular Disney Afternoon shows, Bonkers (1993), makes a brief cameo as a St. Canard police officer - meaning, we may be seeing more of him in the future. The premise of Bonkers the TV show was inspired by Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) where Bonkers, a toon, becomes a police officer in the human world once his former career in show business flames out.
In what’s a deeeeep cut, a static image of Ozzie, Stanley, and Tippi from the Fluppy Dogs (1986) appears while Gosalyn is scanning various dimensions in the Ramrod while looking for her grandpa. The Fluppy Dogs was a one-off, one hour special (that was supposed to be the Pilot for a full series but bad ratings nixed that plan) detailing the adventures of a group of pastel coloured dogs who utilize a crystal key to dimension hop (sound familiar?).
Both the Darkwing Duck movie poster as well as the lunchbox WITH the indentation from Drake’s face from “The Duck Knight Returns!” (S2, E16) can be seen displayed in DW’s HQ.
Megavolt’s Tronsplitter can also be seen stored in DW’s HQ. The weapon is responsible for zapping DW and creating the first incarnation of Negaduck, the black-and-white Negatron version.
The Liquidator isn’t just made of water, he’ll also help you liquidate your assets (after he destroys you home)! “Make money from home by having your home destroyed! Just ask me how!”
When Scrooge gets sucked into DT ‘87, he is seen throwing a tantrum and screaming “a sea monster ate my ice cream!” over and over again. This is in reference to the infamous scene from the four-parter, “Catch as Cash Can” when an irate Scrooge is informed that a sea monster gobbles up half his fortune of which is being transported by boat under the guise of being a shipment of ice cream.
Upon returning from DT ‘87, the nephews can be heard asking “what’s quackaroonie?” as well as commenting on how round their heads were. Quackaroonie was an oft repeated phrase by the nephews that more or less a catchall expression for “cool!” or “HOLY SHIT!”
LP and Gosalyn disguise themselves as C-string DW ‘91 villains Jambalaya Jake and the Bug Master. Jambalaya Jake and his pet gator, Gumbo, originally hailed from the bayou but relocated to the sewers of St. Canard to try their hand at being crooks. Bugmaster was Goslayn’s role model and newscaster Bianca Beakley (no relation to Bentina… that we know of) until she broke bad and began committing crimes as a means to boost her ratings.
LP and DW reference real DW ‘91 episodes, “Beauty and the Beet” as well as “Just us Justice Ducks” - the former featuring Bushroot’s origin story while the latter boasts the first appearance of the Fearsome Five.
Like in DW ‘91, there’s a bit of a one-sided rivalry between DW and Gizmoduck. Although here, while Drake is still the jealous one, he also has a close and very friendly relationship with Fenton (of whom he doesn’t know is Gizmoduck).
Episode: 311 "The Forbidden Fountains of the Foreverglades!” 10/12/20
Starring: Scrooge McDuck, Goldie O’Gilt, Huey Duck, Dewey Duck, Louie Duck, Webby Vanderquack, John D. Rockerduck, and Jeeves
Featuring: Ponce DeLeon
Setting: Florida (The Conquistador Inn and the Foreverglades)
“We’ve spent our whole lives at each other’s throats, Scroogey. But what if we could do it all over again, knowing everything we know now, avoiding the same mistakes? This is our chance at a fresh start!” This is Goldie O’Gilt’s plea to longtime rival and object of her flirtations, Scrooge McDuck. The pair, often at odds, have found common ground after wetting their beaks on the “youth juice” from the fabled waters of the Fountain of the Foreverglades. Now, as a couple of squirrely teenagers, Scrooge and Goldie attempt to make this change permanent as they thirst for more… and each other.
While both Scrooge and Goldie are starting to show signs of wear and tear from their advanced age, it’s the Richest Duck in the World whose deterioration is the most troubling. This is the second time we’ve been confronted with Scrooge’s mortality this season. After his creaky back kept him out of action in “The Rumble for Ragnarok!”(S3, E7!), that same injury is slowing him down once again. Lest we forget, he also floated the idea of finding his successor in that very same episode. Could we be heading for a point where Scrooge really does hang up his spats for good? This could explain why he’s so adamant in his attempts to stay young forever along with his wistfulness for time lost with Goldie.
Goldie’s intentions, while seemingly less urgent, are far more interesting. Up to this point, Goldie has been nothing more than a selfish tease who shamelessly uses her feminine wiles to take advantage of her male counterparts. While she has exhibited some real affection for Scrooge in the past, it’s never truly manifested itself into anything tangible or meaningful (as far as we’ve seen). That’s why this sudden change of heart is so compelling. Goldie refuses to let anyone get too close, keeping everyone between Scrooge and newly minted protege, Louie, at wing’s length.
But, with this newfound chance to be young again, Goldie sees this as an opportunity to right the wrongs of her past. Her life of solitude lies in stark contrast to that of Scrooge who is always flanked by a flock of ducks. To even acknowledge that she’s made mistakes is such a 180 from her usual cold, calculating, and cocksure veneer. Sure, there was evidence of it cracking when she proudly slips a photo of Louie into her wallet after their adventure in “Happy Birthday, Doofus Duck!” (S2, E18). Then, when things are going bad and she has a chance to steal and keep the rejuvenating waters for herself, she catches a glimpse of a tied up Louie and decides against it.
Every time we’ve seen Goldie, she always cuts bait and flees whenever the opportunity presents itself. She always chooses herself over others. But it’s different this time. Even once her hopes of staying young forever are dashed, she decides that “a fresh start isn’t worth it without (Scrooge).” And then, she even returns Isabella Finch’s journal that she pilfered earlier in the episode, grabs the “old coot,” and plants a long, wet one right on his kisser.
Sure Goldie is leaving again, off to do her own thing, but this time she stayed to the end and even consummated her hundred-years-long flirtation by taking Scrooge to first base. Will the two be following through on their intentions of “making the most of the time we’ve got?” I don’t see Goldie moving into McDuck Manor anytime soon, if ever, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the two galavanting along on more treasure hunts... not as rivals, but as dates.
The Fountain of Youth is the next Missing Mystery from Isabella Finch’s journal. Based on what we’ve seen from the book’s pages, the only Mystery left that we know of that we haven’t seen yet is The Stone of What Was. The gang tackled the Third Eye Diamond in “Double-O Duck in You Only Crash Twice!” (S3, E3) as well as the eponymous harp in “The Lost Harp of Mervana!” (S3, E4).
Ponce de Leon is based on real life Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce De Leon, who discovered Florida while searching in vain for the Fountain of Youth.
As we learned back in “The Golden Lagoon of White Agony Plains!” (S1, E15), Goldie’s youthful appearance is thanks in part to a Fountain of Youth she once drank from in Wronguway.
Figuring out Scrooge’s exact age involves some fuzzy arithmetic factoring in time spent in Demogorgana (a timeless demon dimension) as well as three years frozen in an iceberg. But, based on some other clues, he’s around 150-ish-years-old.
In yet another story detailing his grit and work ethic, Scrooge references working on his Uncle Pothole’s steamboat when he was a young lad. Pothole first appeared in a 1955 Uncle Scrooge comic and would continue as a recurring character throughout the series. A variation of Pothole, Catfish McDuck, also starred in the DT ‘87 episode, “One Upon a Dime” where Catfish appears in a flashback detailing how Scrooge won a silver dollar in a steamboat race.
After the Spring Breakers charge Scrooge because of Goldie’s claim that he’s giving away free t-shirts, many of the youths can be seen donning red frock coats thereafter.
Scrooge harkens back to the time Goldie stole his canteen while they were on Oak Island in ‘73. While not a Scrooge reference, Oak Island (a small isle of the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada) is a very popular locale in the world of treasure hunting. There have been numerous books published and television shows created detailing the mythos and pursuit of the famed treasure buried on the island.
Rockerduck has thawed out from whence we last saw him literally on ice in “Moonvasion!” (S2, E24). It turns out that he’s been kept alive (though, not very well) by use of “millions of dollars in experimental freezing technology.” Jeeves, on the other hand, has been kept alive through Frankenstein-esque means.
As it happens, the waters from the Fountain don’t give youth, but transfer it.
Is this our first on-screen death? De Leon has his youth drained from him and decomposes right before our eyes (long curly nails included - yuck!).
By episode’s end, Rockerduck has had his “vim and vigor” restored while Franken-Jeeves has been transformed into a puppy (albeit, still stitched and bolted).