DuckTales is back! And luckily, it’s pretty great. I’m a big fan of the original series, and even watched the sort-of-a-reboot, Quack Pack, that came out in the mid-90s. So, let’s dive in! In this week’s episode, the show attempts to parody Silicon Valley culture when Huey and Dewey compete for a coveted internship with tech mogul and soon-to-be billionaire, Mark Beaks.
1. Once again, the B-plot is much better.
As the show progresses, it has become clear that it really excels at the little moments, jokes, and one-liners. It’s having a little more trouble telling a compelling overall story. Between the boys competing with each other for the internship, and Mark Beaks’ being a “victim” of some corporate espionage, there was way too much going in in the main plot. There were too many elements competing for attention and none of it ended up being very satisfying by the end of the episode. The real entertainment of the episode was with Flintheart Glomgold and Scrooge, starting with their “Vision Beast Battle of Wills.” The ridiculousness of the two ducks with thick Scottish accents bickering back and forth was funny enough, but it got better as soon as Beaks gave them a reason to team up. I’ll take a whole episode of Glomgold’s slideshows. And having him use a particularly obsolete piece of technology to plot against someone on the cutting edge of tech was a nice touch. I also hope we get to meet Glomgold’s “shark guy” at some point. These scenes continue to prove that David Tennant’s Scrooge is the bright spot in the show, and it suffers when he’s not a main part of the story.
2. Please just stay in Duckburg.
The Silicon Valley parody didn’t work. I don’t think this is a show that can make literal real life parallels. It’s anachronistic, and not in a good way. A show with anthropomorphized animals needs to walk a fine line with the suspension of disbelief of the audience. As long as there’s some degree of separation from reality, talking ducks wearing clothes, driving cars, and operating slideshow projectors is all fine. As soon as more elements of our reality are brought in, like Silicon Valley culture that is in the zeitgeist at the moment, that suspension of disbelief falters and makes the silliness of the show’s concept more apparent. That’s not to say the episode didn’t have it’s moments. Dewey’s “super serious business briefcase” was a great way to illustrate what the show (and many others) think about people in Silicon Valley: that they’re faking it, or just coasting on one good idea. The “Remember… you’re replaceable!” poster behind Huey and Dewey at one point is a perfect distillation of how it can feel working at a huge tech company.
3. And please leave Silicon Valley to Silicon Valley.
To complete the show’s commitment to parodying the tech industry, they even cast Silicon Valley actor Josh Brener as the titular Mark Beaks. Beaks is a perfectly passable example of a tech bro, and Brener portrays him perfectly. But his involvement almost makes the episode worse by bringing in the comparison. While Silicon Valley actually has something to say about the tech industry and the people in it, this episode of DuckTales is just trying to generate comedy by reference, instead of using it to make a point. I realize that Dewey has a generic realization about needing to work hard to earn money at the end, but that didn’t need the events in this episode to happen. In fact, Louie pretty much learned the exact same life lesson last episode. The episode kind of ends on a cliffhanger, but it’s not going to continue next week according to the description, and I honestly hope they never return to it (unless Glomgold’s hipster bike messenger disguise makes another appearance).
4. Just say “no” to dubstep.
I think the most glaring usage of reference-as-parody by the show was Mark Beaks putting on some music for Scrooge and Glomgold. I’m not even an EDM fan, but inserting that moment into the episode was the equivalent of saying that something “sucks,” a cop-out criticism when you don’t have anything better to say. It’s as if the writers were saying, “Hey isn’t this music that we don’t understand terrible? Why? Oh, it just is.” This is why the show’s suspension of disbelief is so important. The music shouldn’t be distracting, and if it causes me to question the writing, then it’s a problem.Continued below
5. The premiere is still the high point.
We’re now seven episodes into the first season and none of them have been as good as the first. Since Multiversity is mainly a comic-focused site, I’m going to go ahead and just assume it’s because “Nimona” and “Lumberjanes” writer Noelle Stevenson worked on the story for that first episode, and hasn’t been in the credits since. But in all seriousness, I’m sure this is passing as a perfectly fine show for kids; it just hasn’t been satisfying as an older viewer after the first few episodes. As I mentioned earlier, there are still really great little moments and jokes, but the overall story is not reaching any further than surface level entertainment. Next week involves mummies and hopefully an actual adventure, so it definitely has the potential to start gaining my confidence in the show back.