I loved being a dad back in the 1980s. Life after school was immensely pleasurable and easy to do. I got the kids home (I worked at home, and still do) so that was my job. Got the snacks ready. The turned on the television and took a little break with the kids. After all, we all deserved it.
The familiar music came on, we saw the duck tails wiggling as they strode along, and we were all off on our latest adventure with Uncle Scrooge and the boys. Man, those were the days. Back then there was nothing like DuckTales on television. It was Disney’s first foray into the animated television market with a series like that, and it became a model for a lot of other Disney products as well as other cartoon companies.
The show ran from 1987 to 1990 and lasted 100 episodes. Besides Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie, the series also gave us other stalwarts from Carl Barker’s iconic comics such as Gyro Gearloose, Goldie O’Gilt, Flintheart Glomgold, Ma Beagle and the Beagle Boys, Magica DeSpell, and Black Pete.
New characters were also added as the television series progressed. Uncle Scrooge’s adopted grandniece Webbigail “Webby” Vanderquack, Launchpad McQuack, Mrs. Beakley, and Duckworth.
There was magic in those shows. In one episode, Uncle Scrooge and the boys could be off on an Indiana Jones-style adventure and in a science fiction story in the next. The barometer for their adventures swung from mythology-based (“The Golden Fleecing”) to literature-based (“Duck In The Iron Mask”) to movie-based with a twist (“Duck to the Future”) to history-based (“The Uncrashable Hindentanic”).
For thirty minutes, the kids and I would sit totally mesmerized by the story and our favorite characters. There was real drama, suspense, and laughs to die for. And Huey, Dewey, and Louie always triumphed over the bad guys even though Uncle Scrooge didn’t always get the treasure.
The Volume 3 DVD release is chock full of goodness. Thankfully, I have a 10-year-old who hasn’t seen them and can sit down with him and enjoy the episodes all over again. He’s still living his childhood, but I use him as the excuse to relive mine. And with this third volume out, there can be only one more volume to go before we have them all.
There are 24 episodes in this latest release, but that includes two five-part serials that were originally broadcast over a week of showing to keep everybody in suspense. And, yes, it worked.
“Duck to the Future” is an obvious play off the Michael J. Fox film series that was so big at the time. Uncle Scrooge just wants to take a peek at the future the boys might have, to make sure he’s doing the right thing, and ends up in a trap by Magica DeSpell as she tries to take his Number One Dime.
“Jungle Duck” has Uncle Scrooge and the boys looking for the legendary Silver Buzzard and end up crossing paths with a Tarzan-like character in the jungle. As it turns out, he was one of Mrs. Beakley’s first charges who went missing.
“Launchpad’s First Crash” is the story of how Launchpad and Uncle Scrooge first met, and is great.
“Dime Enough for Luck” mixes romance and betrayal for Uncle Scrooge as Magica makes yet another try for his dime.
“Duck in the Iron Mask” is a nephews-centric episode about Louie coming to grips with being mistaken for his brothers. The episode is a takeoff from The Man in the Iron Mask and the fictional country is Monte Dumas, after the author Alexander Dumas.
“The Uncrashable Hindentanic” is a hodgepodge brought about by the two great disasters involving the zeppelin, the Hindenburg and the Titanic.
“The Status Seekers” is an Uncle Scrooge-centric episode where Uncle Scrooge learns that status isn’t everything.
“Nothing to Fear” is another Magica episode, and they’re always fun.
“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. McDuck” is another play on a work of literature, this time Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which Uncle Scrooge gets turned into a money-spending duck instead of being a tightwad. They have to go to London and end up meeting Jack the Tripper!
“Once Upon A Dime” tells the story of how Uncle Scrooge became rich and earned his fortune, as well as the history of his Number One Dime.
“Spies in Their Eyes” has Donald accused of being a spy and the boys attempting to help him out. Which turns out to be, for a while anyway, more bad than good.
“All Ducks on Deck” shows Donald getting caught not being the brave and important duck in the navy that he’s told his nephews he is. But it’s one of the heart-warming tales.
“Ducky Horror Picture Show” again plays off of pop culture. This one comes from The Rocky Horror Picture Show and has Uncle Scrooge hiring monsters in his new entertainment business that are actually monsters.
“Till Nephews Do Us Part” involves a near-miss marriage for Uncle Scrooge that would have separated him from Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Glittering Goldie shows up in this one to help save the day.
“Time Is Money” is the first five-part serial on the discs. Oddly enough, it’s separated instead of kept together, which is somewhat annoying because you’d think they’d put all of those episodes on one disc. It has Uncle Scrooge scrambling to prove he owns an island, and involves time travel (bet you couldn’t see that one coming!) and the rescue of a cave duck called Bubba Duck that becomes something of a regular in the series.
“Super Duck Tales” is the second five-part serial. When a new superhighway is routed to go through Uncle Scrooge’s money vault, he has to move his fortune. The Beagle Boys hope to take advantage of that.
This series is absolutely one of the best Disney or anyone else has ever conceived of or produced. If this is your first time through the cartoons, my congratulations because you’ve got hours of entertainment ahead of you. And if you, like me, love this show, make excuses to put yourself back in front of the television and get ready for some real entertainment and a return to greatness.