Fall TV: 'DuckTales' Is Back And Continues To Be Quacking Adorable
I owe you all an apology. I feel I’ve let you down. You see, Disney XD aired two brand new episodes of their delightful Ducktales reboot this weekend (you know, the one featuring the voice talents of literally everyone that matters) and I missed them. I’d been waiting since that special premiere in August, and then I totally dropped the ball. I’m just… so, so sorry.
But the good news is that I just caught up, and am ready to discuss them at length! So let’s dive into that Money Bin together, shall we?
The channel was smart to pair “Daytrip of Doom” and “The Great Dime Chase” together, because they both feature more grounded, everyday shenanigans than the globetrotting Atlantis adventure of the premiere. They also have some nifty character expansion and a few anticipated introductions. “Daytrip” focuses on the burgeoning friendship between Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby, as well as the growing pains at Scrooge’s mansion as he and Mrs. Beakley get used to the additional houseguests.
“I’m pleased to have you here as long as it in no way inconveniences me.” — Scrooge, but also anyone who has ever had houseguests stay for longer than a night, amirite?
He defers the real house rules to Mrs. Beakley, who has… a lot of them. And Donald isn’t into it, so he tries to become as completely independent of the mansion as he can get whilst still living in a houseboat parked in Scrooge’s pool. It involves a lot of generators, and an oil fire. “That idiot is going to get himself killed,” was Beakley’s response. And then she giggled. YOU GUYS I THINK MRS. BEAKLEY MIGHT BE MY FAVORITE NOW.
And that’s some mighty stiff competition, because Webby is shaping up to be the show’s secret weapon. Literally. She’s downright lethal. Her proficiency with night-vision goggles, wall-scaling and grappling hook guns comes at a cost, however. She doesn’t really know how to have normal kid fun. She says things like “If you’re not a player, you’re a pawn,” turns every game into a war game, and manages to knock down a tree with a hacky sack. She’s, frankly, intimidating. So it’s no surprise that the boys don’t quite know how to keep up with her, or get a little scared to play with her, or even question whether they should take her out in public. But take her out into public they do… to Funso’s Funzone (where fun is in the zone, duh!).
There’s video games (“Uke or Puke,” which is like “Guitar Hero”… but with a ukulele) and snacks and a ball pit, and Webby embarrasses the boys in each scenario, eventually causing enough damage (grappling hook gun ftw!) that they get kicked out for life. And that’s when Beagle Boys kidnap them, to impress Ma Beagle (Margo Martindale, who seems to be having a fucking blast). This family of ne’er-do-wells are petty crooks with a bone to pick with Scrooge, and they see their meal ticket in ransoming off the kids. Donald and Mrs. Beakley join forces to respond to the ransom note, only to find that the kids don’t really need saving at all — thanks to Webby and her danger-skills. The boys tell Webby to just be herself, which makes sense because “herself” knows how to escape from restraints and fuck shit up.
In the end, Donald impresses Beakley (WHO MIGHT BE A SPY, FYI) with his berserker-rage and single-handedly takes down two of the Beagle Boys, while inside Webby manages to trap and tie up another Beagle Boy plus Ma herself, impressing everyone. And Scrooge? He’s taking a money bath. The episode very easily could have made Huey, Dewey, and Louie out to be little shitheads who need to be convinced that Webby is worthwhile, or who get offended that she’s more hardcore at games than they are, but to its credit it never does. The boys always respect and value Webby while also recognizing that she’s a bit intense and may not fit in to certain situations. Yet they take her anyway, to get her out of her element and expose her to new things. They get frustrated (they’re kids), and her feelings may get hurt a bit along the way, but it’s clear they aren’t surprised when she saves the day. They know exactly what she’s capable of. And while they may be a tad scared of her sometimes, they are more than happy to have her save the day. They know the value of keeping her on their team.
“The Great Dime Chase” focuses on Scrooge taking Louie to work in order to show him the importance of hard work, while Webby and Dewey tag along to access Scrooge’s archives — where they hope to find information about the boys’ mother, Della Duck. And yes, there is definitely a Dewey Decimal gag included.
Louie has been getting a little too comfortable with all the free soda, cell phones, and reality television available at the mansion, so tagging along for a day at the office isn’t his idea of a great time. Things get interesting, however, when Scrooge arrives at the Money Bin (which seems to be a sort of smaller, private office, as opposed to the more corporate headquarters downtown) to find that his board of directors have come to meet with him… about his own spending. Well, it’s interesting for us. Louie is clearly bored out of his skull. So he escapes to hit the vending machine, stealing a mysterious dime from a decorative velvet display pillow on the way so he can buy a soda.
Of course that dime turns out to be the first dime Scrooge ever earned, a.k.a. the inspiration for him coming to America. And so, while Scrooge has to explain the importance of funding for magical/mystical protections on the Money Bin (do you guys even KNOW how many curses he has on his head? DO YOU?), Louie is frantically trying to track down a dime that’s already been collected from the vending machine and is now being moved around a LITERAL MONEY BIN. It’s like trying to find a needle in a pile of other needles, pins, and assorted sharp objects.
Good thing Louie has already met one of Scrooge’s pet inventors, a disgruntled genius named Gyro Gearloose (voiced with the perfect amount of huffy angst by Jim Rash) — who just so happens to have a new invention that might come in handy. Lil Bulb is a lightbulb-headed mini robot does it all, and totally won’t rise up and attempt to overthrow the humans, why would you even worry? Seriously, I’ve never seen a kid’s cartoon mine so many robot uprising jokes in one sitting, but I’m glad someone is out there warning the youngsters about our future overlords.
Louie scams his way into a free trial of the ‘bot, and sets it the task of locating that one special dime. So it… goes ahead and tries to find ALL the many dimes. Then finds some giant machinery to take over, so it can go on a rampage and continue searching for all the dimes MORE EVILLY. Gyro steps in and manages to fix his invention (or at least stop its rampage), while Louie finds and returns that very special dime. Only to find out that it’s a decoy dime! Obviously Scrooge wouldn’t leave something that important just sitting around, that’s preposterous.
The message is obviously that robots aren’t the answer because they’ll just gain sentience and try to take over, and yes you should put in the hard work yourself, and also sugary soft drinks are terrible. Though the only lesson Gyro seems to have learned is that while the robots he creates may turn evil, perhaps he just needs to turn HIMSELF into a robot… hello, “Project Blatherskite”! We’re one step closer to finally seeing Gizmoduck!
Meanwhile, in the b-plot, Dewey and Webby make it into the archives, where they have to perform some tests to prove their worth before the librarian will help them find the information they need. Sure, the tests are mostly a way for the librarian to foist her work off on the kids, but they do gain the knowledge necessary to access a super-secret chamber… full of items related to Della Duck. Who maybe stole something called the “Spear of Selene” from Scrooge? This is shaping up to be a whole overarching mystery for the kids to unravel, and I’m HERE for it.
What DuckTales continues to do well is blend the nostalgia for the original with clever, modern updates. The jokes fly fast and furious, the characters are more defined and nuanced, and yet the focus is still on the kids. No amount of Donald or Scrooge or “Hey, we have the hot Scottish guy from Doctor Who in this, let’s give him all the lines” will distract from the essential balance of the series. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Launchpad, who was barely in these episodes, and there are still new characters on the horizon (GIZMOFUCKINGDUCK), and I’m sure there will be more grand adventures on the way. But it’s great to see that the show doesn’t need to leave Duckburg to be a good time.
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