Season 1, Episode 1: "The Most Dangerous Game… Night!" 10/20/18
Starring: Louie Duck, Scrooge McDuck, Huey Duck, Dewey Duck, and Webbigail Vanderquack
Costarring: Gyro Gearloose, Bentina Beakley, Launchpad McQuack, Duckworth, and the Gyropuddlians
Setting: Central America and Duckburg (McDuck Manor)
Plot: Tired of adventuring, Louie cons Scrooge into hosting a game night.
As the episode hopscotches from one plot line to the next,* the one constant is Louie and his disruptive neurosis. Louie, the quirky layabout, hasn’t ingratiated himself into as many plots** as the needy Dewey or the over enthusiastic Huey. Here, “the green one” gets some much needed attention and encouragement from his Uncle Scrooge.
Louie has grown weary from all the McDuck family adventuring. A fan of gold,*** Louie complains that he was expecting “more treasure and less hunting.” He’s more inclined to stay home all day, watching another Ottoman Empire marathon while downing cans of Pep. Is Louie just another spoiled member of Generation Z who wants the juice without the squeeze or is there something deeper at play here?
Before we get to that, let’s recognize what Louie does best: conning people. Sure, as Louie laments, Huey is the brains, Webby is the fist, and Dewey is the guts but Louie possesses that special brand of manipulation and savvy that eludes most pre-teens. When Louie is hell bent on staying home in lieu of embarking on another treasure hunt, he cons poor Huey into thinking his status as a Junior Woodchuck is unraveling due to some loose threads and shoddy needlework. Louie then uses Huey’s meltdown to trick Scrooge into staying in for a family game night.
Back to Louie’s true motivation; sure, he’s “lovably lazy” but this isn’t merely about getting money for nothin’ and chicks for free. And, yes, his first instinct will always lean towards maxin’ and relaxin’ at McDuck Manor but what’s truly eating at Louie isn’t either of these things. He’s still a bit shell shocked from the reveal behind the tragic disappearance of his mother, Della Duck. It’s easy to see why too. Della met her “end” when she adventured a little too hard and one time too many. This is what Louie fears. Not only is he worried about the inherent dangers of adventuring but what the effects of such can do to the family dynamic. Like Huey’s sash of merit badges, Louie can see the thread and how little it’s hanging on by.
As Scrooge recognizes, Louie “judges every angle.” While Huey, Dewey, and Webby are all taken by the thrill of the hunt and the reward of the spoils, Louie sees beyond all that… and so does Scrooge. That’s why, instead of punishing Louie for shrinking down the family and putting them at war with the Gyropuddlians, he uses this as an opportunity to encourage him. Sure, Louie causes the conflict but he also gets them out of it. Scrooge is “sharper than the sharpies” and sees a lot of himself in Louie. That’s why he gives him the Idol of Cibola as his metaphorical Number One Dime. And, in turn, Louie creates “Louie Inc.: Adventure is Our Business.”
(*) Starting with a Raiders of the Lost Ark parody, then a family game night, and finally a battle against a clan of Gyropuddlians.
(**) His most prominent role to this point was in The Great Dime Chase! (S1, E3) where Scrooge attempts to impress upon him the value of work ethic. Louie has had his moments but they are fewer than that of Dewey, Webby, and even Huey.
(***) Louie reveals in The Secret(s) of Castle McDuck! (S1, E21) that he knows about gold and follows that up with the hilarious sequence in The Shadow War! (S1, E22/23) when he’s reluctant to give up the Golden Khopesh of Tothra.
For Season Two, the opening sequence has a few changes:
With the Raiders of the Lost Ark parody, it’s worth reiterating the connection between DuckTales and Indiana Jones. While it’s true that DuckTales ‘87 probably never would’ve happened without the Indiana Jones franchise. Indiana Jones was also heavily influenced by Carl Barks’ series of Uncle Scrooge comic books. It’s well documented how much Barks and Scrooge inspired George Lucas. For example, the famed sequence of Jones taking an idol from a pedestal which trips the rolling boulder first occurred in the Uncle Scrooge comic, “Seven Cities of Cibola.”
Speaking of which, the gold statue Scrooge pilfers from the temple is called the Idol of Cibola. In real life, “Cibola” is one of the Seven Cities of Gold - a popular 16th century myth that claimed there were settlements of gold found throughout the New Mexico Territory.
Scrooge’s rustic Cibola outfit is the same one he sports in The Golden Lagoon of White Agony Plains! (S1, E15).
Dewey and Webby’s new bond centered around theme songs is fantastic. It’s nice to see that the relationship they built in Season One wasn’t just about finding Della.
Duckworth can be seen hanging the painting of Scrooge, Donald, and Della fighting a crew of pirates aboard a ship. This is the same painting Dewey and Webby came across all the way back in the pilot that began their search for Della.
“Team Uncle” delivers the funniest moment of the episode when Donald and Scrooge try to impersonate a mermanticore during charades.
In Scroogeopoly, there’s a space called Dawson (the real life Canadian outpost where the fictional Scrooge meets Goldie) as well as Barks’ Place (an homage to both Carl Barks and Park Place from Monopoly).
Gyro’s micro-phone along with the conflict with the Gyropuddlians felt half-baked and misplaced. It was an odd and involved plot device to get the character from point B to point C.
I’m a bit disappointed that we didn’t get any clear indication of what this season’s arc will be. Could the hidden map found in the idol come into play?