Episode 2: “Daytrip of Doom!” 9/22/17
Starring: Webbigail Vanderquack, Huey Duck, Dewey Duck, Louie Duck, Donald Duck, Bentina Beakley, Uncle Scrooge, Ma Beagle, Big Time Beagle, Burger Beagle, and Bouncer Beagle
Setting: McDuck Manor, Funzo’s Funzone, and Duckburg Pier
Plot: While everyone is getting used to their new living arrangements at McDuck Manor, the nephews take Webby to Funzo’s Funzone where they have a harrowing encounter with the Beagle Boys.
People working in and around television will often lament the proverbial “second episode lull.” After the splashy, tone-setting and premise-establishing pilots, shows often use the follow up as an opportunity to clear their throats. There usually isn’t too much exploration of mythology or focus on story arcs. That doesn’t mean they’re bad per se, they’re just less complex and more straight forward – not as much meat to chew on. “Daytrip of Doom” is all of these things (while still being a GREAT episode) where both the show and its characters are still introducing themselves to us and each other. We see it in Donald and Ms. Beakley as they deal with the fallout of becoming “neighbours” where they immediately encounter strife and personality conflicts. Less fraught but no less action packed are the nephews and Webby’s storyline. They too are ironing out the kinks and learning each other’s quirks while developing some pretty strong and effective chemistry that will no doubt come in handy in episodes to come.
Bentina Beakley is Scrooge’s housekeeper but, for all intents and purposes, she is head-of-household and Commander of McDuck Manor. It’s her no non-nonsense, militaristic attitude that leaves her bristling at the children’s antics and causes her to immediately butt beaks with the undisciplined and boundry-less Donald (*). The order she values and keeps is under siege and there is no greater threat to structure of any sort than Donald Duck. Even though she does offer to help him get acclimated to his new living arrangements, it’s under the pretext of a blackboard full of rules and the advice is decidedly condescending (she even dismisses him as an “idiot” who is “going to get himself killed”) while Donald’s stubbornness and aversion to authority wouldn’t allow for it anyway. Where do they finally find common ground? They both would do anything to protect their loved ones. Even though her natural inclination is plan-before-action, Mrs. B is impressed with how Donald handles himself where his impulsive decisiveness (or lack of self-control) proves effective in neutralizing the decided size and numbers advantage the Beagle Boys have over him. In turn, Donald finally accepts Beakley’s help as she provides him with the electricity he needs for his boat.
The children are running amok! But it’s Webby’s misplaced intensity that ultimately overwhelms the boys as they play make-believe war games in the halls of McDuck Manor. Under her grandmother’s tutelage, Webby is well-versed in tactical maneuvers and can handle herself in dangerous situations but she doesn’t know how to turn it down a notch and just have fun. Unlike Beakley though, who is content in watching Donald burn his boat down while calmly sipping her tea, Dewey wants to help Webby acclimate to “every day kid-stuff” and his brothers quickly oblige. After taking their talents to Funso’s Fun Zone, Webby’s issues escalate when her inability to “play it cool” results in one calamitous misstep after the next. Ironically enough, it’s when a real-life war game breaks out after the Beagle Boys abduct her and the boys that she’s finally in her element. It’s here the student becomes the teacher as the boys watch slack-beaked while Webby becomes a one-girl wrecking crew in apprehending Ma and Big Time Beagle (**). Huey, Dewey, and Louie quickly realize that they shouldn’t be tempering Webby’s awkward ways but, instead, nurture them since “normal is overrated” - they need and want her to be “Webby normal.”
Even though Donald and Mrs. Beakley arrive at the same place of acceptance and understanding, it’s the kids that provide a true blueprint for how to blend and gel as a family. There was hardly any hesitation from the boys in barreling through and past Webby’s awkwardness – they wanted to help (despite some minor reservations from Louie)! That’s what’s great about youth; they aren’t stuck in their ways and are much more malleable and open to change. Even better though, the nephews were emotionally aware and intelligent enough to reach the conclusion that they shouldn’t be trying to change Webby at all. Sure, both she and Donald are hot messes (even setting boats afire in back-to-back scenes!) but they will evolve naturally as all the McDucks, Vanderquacks, Beakleys, and Ducks embark on the adventure of change, tolerance, and DuckTales.
(*) It’s Donald’s service in the Navy during the original DuckTales and his oil-and-water relationship with his commanding officer where much of the subsequent comedy was mined – it’s cool to see the seeds of that dynamic mirrored here with Mrs. B.
(**) This sequence was evocative of Mike and Sully’s technically sound and record-breaking scare of the adults in the cabin scene from Monsters University.
That’s right! Webby deservedly receives top billing here as she’s clearly the star of the episode. It’s so cool how she’s establishing herself as such a force to be reckoned with (in episode two no less!) when she was such a nothing, wet blanket in the original series.
The Duckburg Dailies also made an appearance in the Pilot and let’s hope it becomes a mainstay as it proves an effective and clever device for delivering exposition in revealing that Ma Beagle was recently pardoned.
Poor Dewey is so sweet and helpless as he panickily invokes the foyer as a “safe zone.”
In the palatial McDuck Manor, wouldn’t Scrooges washroom be connected to his master bedroom?
Louie thinking Donald and Beakley were going to kiss during their heated argument was perfect.
Huey remains the responsible one as he reads the “Duckburg Transit Timetable” while waiting for the bus. He also offers Webby a round of safety rules to abide by when riding public transportation.
That same female dog from the Pilot who was at the job interview with Donald while also appearing as a journalist in the final scene shows up again on the bus reading a book entitled “The Joy of Personal Space.” Will she become a full-fledged character or is she a mere extra or background artist?
I wish the graffiti in the sketchiest part of MY town was merely only a well written “FLATULENCE.” Although, the children playing hopscotch on a police outline is decidedly “sketchy.”
While dim, the Beagle Boys still do their homework – they were able to identify Huey, Dewey, and Louie as Scrooge’s nephews.
The voice of Toby was none other than Jason Marsden who famously provided the voice for Max in A Goofy Movie.
Funso’s Fun Zone is clearly inspired by Chuck E. Cheese’s but Funzo is an anthropomorphic Walrus while Chuck E. is a rat/mouse. A walrus lends itself to the Zones’ more nautical theme while a rat could also work if you want to go the “plague” route.
The Beagle Boys were another creation of Carl Barks and a version of them were first introduced in 1951 under the Walt Disney Comics and Stories title but would most often appear as antagonists of Uncle Scrooge’s and would even get their own eponymous series of comic books from 1964 through 1979. It wasn’t until DuckTales though that they received individual names and personalities.
While Ma, Big Time, and Bouncer Beagle are reasonable facsimiles of their 80s’ counterparts, Burger traded in his portly frame for a more svelte one. Like Robin Hood’s pal, Little John, his moniker now trades on irony.
Perhaps the most notable change from the Beagle Boys’ appearance is their prison numbers that were always prominently emblazoned across their chests. As ridiculous as it was to advertise their status as escaped convicts, there was a cockiness and bad-assery to it that was endearing. It’s a bummer they’re gone.
The arcade game, “Uke or Puke,” is a play on the real life game “Guitar Hero.”
I love the implied history between Beakley and the Beagle Boys. Like I said before, this show has a past that’s just as ripe as the present – let’s hope they truly explore the space (*ahem* Mrs. B’s life as a spy *ahem*)
The contrast between Donald’s fiery passion and Beakley’s cool reserve is fully realized when greeting their respective family members – Donald scoops up the boys and embraces them in a bear hug while Beakley calmly pats Webby’s head and proudly acknowledges her use of a slip stitch.
Big Time nets the biggest laugh when lamenting the relationship Donald and Beakley have with their kin with a “why can’t we have what they have???”